Family Ties Made of Hay Baling Wire

Four generations of a Minnesota family share the old iron gene through collecting hay balers.

| October 2015

When Doug Johnson’s father, Lloyd, retired, the rural Shafer, Minnesota, man took up the old iron hobby in a big way. “I’d been collecting for a while by then,” Doug says, “but he just blew me away with everything he was collecting. My dad is 89, and still working at it. He keeps us going.”

Today, four generations of the Johnson family are active collectors. Doug’s brother and sisters (Brad, Sharon and Julie) are collectors, as are many of their children and grandchildren. “Everybody has a little part,” Doug says.

Many pieces from the family collection are housed and shown at the Almelund, Minnesota, Threshing Show, northwest of Taylors Falls, Minnesota. A trio of stationary hay balers – an International, Case and Massey Ferguson – are family favorites. As working units at the show, they’re also reliable crowd pleasers.

IH unit has local ties

The Johnsons’ 1920s International Harvester Co. baler came from a nearby farm museum. “My dad bought it from them about 20 years ago,” Doug says. “We decided not to restore it any more than was required to keep it running. We prefer the old rusty look.”

History on the old machine is spotty, as the owners of the museum have passed away. “He was a local auctioneer who picked up stuff all over the place,” Doug says. “It’s pretty hard now to trace where it came from.”

Everything on the baler was workable when they got it. “There were a few bushing issues that we tightened up,” Doug says, “and the wood blocks for braking were worn out, so we had to make new ones. We oiled it up and freed the works, and it worked as it did before. If something comes up, we fix it, but we want to keep it original.”