Starting from 60-odd years ago, I had an idea to save things, largely ag-related things. My dad, Ed, helped by giving each of us kids some money from a land sale (it was either give it to us kids or the government!). This became seed money for our museum.
On to an interesting item and how we acquired it. Jean Elsinger, a widow who was married to the brother of a friend of mine, called some years back to say that her mom, Mrs. Walt Aschwegy, also a widow, wanted me to come up with $100 and a trailer. A week or less later, I did.
We went through her basement, gathering fruit jars we did not have and other interesting items, and on out to the outbuildings. Coming around the corner of the barn, I saw a New Idea hay loader just barely sticking out. When I asked Mrs. Aschwegy about it, she said her late husband had last used it in the 1950s, and it had been in the lean-to ever since. We hand-pushed it out, did some rearranging and managed to get it onto a tag trailer.
This was a rare find, as the loader was complete and operational. It had no rotted wood, no rusted metal and was useable. Once we got it home, we called Myron Joneson, a neighbor who played with horses. He agreed to cut some hay with them, rake it with a dump rake and pull a rack and the loader to see how well it’d work.
Well, the day came and we did all that. It turns out, the hay loader really works! Another neighbor, Mike Schmidt, had a barn with the gear still in it to run slings, so Mike and I ran one of my pump rigs into the barn, used it for a ladder to get to the carrier, oiling and loosening it up so it would work. Testing was done with a 5-gallon
Myron then hooked his horses to the rope and we successfully lifted two slings of hay into the barn. This was a learning experience: One learns after pulling the trip rope that opens the sling to let go of the rope on the second one!
The hay loader now rests comfortably in one of our museum buildings, where it can be viewed by another generation. FC
Jim and Joan Lacey operate Little Village Farm, a museum of farm collectibles housed in 10 buildings at their home near Dell Rapids, S.D. Contact them at (605) 428-5979.