I was at the Hancock County Fair in Britt last week and on the fairgrounds is an ag museum that I have visited for several years while at the fair.
Each year I walk through the museum to see what has been added to its display.
It’s an excellent museum with old tractors, the implements they pulled and horse-drawn equipment.
The walls are lined with displays of hand tools, livestock equipment, different types of steel fence posts and more, plus my favorite, the hand tools used for installing the tile that changed this country from marsh into the excellent farm land that we have.
I recognized most of the equipment from previous trips and this year there was a new addition, a New Holland baler that was different from the New Holland balers in my memory.
The first difference was how the baler picked up the windrow from the left side of the tractor instead of the balers I knew that picked it up from the right.
There were a few other small differences and the written explanation about the baler said it had been converted from two men riding in the rear twisting wires to tie the bales to a twine tie baler with knotters, eliminating the need for anyone to tie the bales.
One of the best parts of the museum is the history that accompanies each piece of equipment that includes the owner and where they farmed.
This old New Holland baler had the four-cylinder, Wisconsin engine sitting at the front, which is what it had in common with New Hollands I remember.
My knowledge of New Holland balers was learned when I was around 10 in the second half of the 1950s when my dad bought a New Holland wire tie baler with a Wisconsin engine mounted on it.
He used it through much of the 1960s so my memories are from about 10 years of baling experience.
My dad liked those 50- to 60-pound wire tie bales. Baling hay and straw was a lot of heavy lifting.
The other strong memory is starting that balky Wisconsin engine. Once started, it was quite reliable, but when it was shut off for meal time or to refuel, getting it to start again was going to take time and consternation.
I go into the ag museum wondering if they will have a Minneapolis-Moline model G4 combine.
Yes, my dad had one of those. He bought it just after World War II when implements were being made, but still in short supply.
It had its own four-cylinder engine that came from a Minneapolis-Moline model Z tractor. It was used through the early 1960s. And it was hard to start.
Like many farmers who look at this old machinery, I have a love-hate relationship with those pieces.
I know they made farms more productive with more work done by fewer people, but they still required work of their own.
My dad had no sentimentality for farm equipment. He would look at a tractor as a tool, no different from a set of wrenches.
He would question the need for an ag museum and if he went in, it would be a brief visit.
When he was finished using his New Holland baler and his Minneapolis-Moline combine, he parked them in the machine shed where they spent the rest of the year when not in use and he simply walked away from them.
And that is where they both are today, faded paint covered in dust in that same shed on the farm where I grew up.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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