This issue of Farm Collector is full of unexpected connections. In an article by J.O. Parker, reporting on the enthusiastic dedication of two Nebraskans, we learn about the way farmers once used rock crushers to create an extra revenue stream. Both for agricultural use as a soil additive and for use in road construction, rock crushers on the farm earned their keep – although the claim made in a 1921 ad for a manufacturer of rock crushers (“Make Big Money Crushing Limestone”) seems perhaps a bit optimistic.
That thread of entrepreneurship finds its way to an article by Jon Fieker. Writing about a business partnership established by his grandfather and great-uncle, Jon shows what two enterprising young men could accomplish a century ago with a traction steam engine. Roadwork (including rock crushing), sawing, threshing, and more kept the engine busy and two young families afloat. The engines used in that partnership are long gone, but the brothers’ passion for steam endures two generations later.
Family ties also surface in an article by Bill Vossler, who reports on the Minnesota man who cherishes his daughter’s involvement in his old engine hobby. The two attend shows together, working side by side as they run engines from his collection. Having grown up around engines, Emily Knish tends to the hobby in both a hands-on way and with an eye to the future, telling her friends about old engines and encouraging them to attend shows.
And that’s the thread that leads us to Mutti Ketola, who collects chainsaws and loves to share that page from the past with others. As writer Jerry Mattson explains, chainsaws are just part of Mutti’s collection. He’s filled seven restored barns with antique hand tools, hit-and-miss engines, chainsaws, and more. Mutti enjoys nothing more than giving tours. Indeed, visitors from all over the world have had a look at his treasures.
All of these folks have at least one thing in common: They love their hobby, and they’re pretty sure others will too if they can just reel ’em in and tell them all about it. They love the history, they love the early technology and they love bringing it all back to life. Enthusiasm like that helps build connections – and connections are what keep this hobby strong. Show season is fast approaching: What new connections can you make this year? FC
Leslie C. McManus