Sublette is over….

Every year there are some events that mark the end of a season and the beginning of another. The Sublette Toy Show does that for me. This was the 33rd year for this show that is a wrap up of the indoor winter toy shows and the advent of Spring. You never know what kind of weather the Sublette Toy show will bring; this year it was nice, hopefully an advent of things to come.

Oliver was the featured brand for this year’s show and there were a cool bunch of tractors lining the streets of Sublette. This has been our year to attend Oliver events and the brand was well represented in the streets although club attendance was down in part I think because of the winter event and the following big event in Peoria. You can only go so many places.

This show is quite beloved because it has all the small town charm, kind folk, and the proceeds from vendors and other events goes to the local sports and scholarship so it is a win/win event for everyone.

We attended the banquet this year and listened to Don Dinges share his fun jokes and introduce this one and that one and hand out the scholarship to various 4H and FFA winners. It is nice to see young people interested in these great clubs and that agriculture is still going strong in the rural communities. The entertainment was a magician that made us laugh.

The show itself brought some neat equipment out of the woodwork. Some of my favorites included a very cool 1940 Cockshutt 70, 1951 Farmall McCormick MV high clearance tractor and some amazing scratch built combines to name a few.

My favorite part of the show is walking down the street and seeing the trucks, old cars, tractors and such lining the small town streets with the huge grain elevator looming over it all. This is small town America at its best






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Jones Brother’s Market, a Step back in time

When I was a kid I lived in Mattoon, Illinois not too far from a little store called “My Store”. While I admit not very original in name, the store was my store, our store. My sister Debbie and I would walk to the store for candy or other treats, or a loaf of bread for our mom. The store was close enough she didn’t worry a lot about where we were although I grew up in a time when parents were not required to have near as tight a rein on their children as they do today.

Recently I drove to Ashland, Illinois to visit Jones Brother’s Market for an interview for Senior News & Times and found myself back at “My Store” all over again. There was the old fashioned building, meat counter and friendly faces. The Jones family offers up amazing meats and specializes in brats that are bringing people from all over central Illinois to this small town. Last night I tried a Cheddar brat and loved it. I can’t wait for the Monzerella garlic brats as well.

The business began back in 1932 with a woman at the helm. In fact, Dan Jones said she was the first female business owner in Ashland. The building was built in the 1850’s and expanded by the second generation to run the store in the 1940’s. Needless to say, I loved my visit and hope you will read all about it in the May issue of Senior News & Times.

If you can’t wait and need more details, Jones Market is located at 201 Editor Street in Ashland.


They are open Monday – Friday from 7:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. ad Saturday from 7-4. Check out their Facebook page for more information or call 217-476-3914.

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Tractor Winter Conventions – Good for the Collector’s soul

March is here and the snow is finally beginning to melt and thoughts of spring don’t seem quite so ludicrous as they did a couple days ago. One bright spot in the midst of the winter doldrums were a couple of winter tractor shows that Keith and I hit. The first one was during the midst of a winter snow storm, the Hart Parr Oliver Collectors (HPOCA) that was held February 27, 28 and March 1st at the American Farm Heritage Museum. When we first walked in the door we had a deja vu moment when we saw Marvin Stinebaker he and Keith had been at another place and time recently and it took us a minute to place the cool lawn and garden collector who had his Oliver beauties on display.

The show had an array of neat tractors and vendors set up. We stayed for the banquet that evening, but hightailed it before the speakers so we could get home before the snow piled higher than Keith’s four-wheel drive could maneuver. The next day was our 35th anniversary and we heard Kurt Aumann had a bit of fun with our date during his portion of the presentation.

This past weekend over we headed north and attended part of the Red Power Winter show to get a bit of Farmall Red fun. The show was put on by Chapter 33 and we stayed at the Blue Chip Casino where the event was held. It was quite a sight to see International Harvester tractors outside the casino/hotel doors. From our window we also got a glimpse of the nuclear tower as the sunset offering another surreal view over Lake Michigan.

The winter show offered up and auction and banquet where we heard the stars of Small Town Big Deal and enjoyed the truth behind the stories of real people and real towns. The show is family friendly and that in itself is a miracle these days. The tractor shows are family friendly events that bring families and friends together and allowed us a bit of scenery besides our farmhouse walls.

Spring really is around the corner, and the winter shows made us ready for summer and tractor show after spring planting is done!



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Pancake day celebrating at home!


Some days are just too snowy, too rainy, too cold or too something to venture out and today was one of them. However it felt like a day to celebrate health, happiness and a day to stay indoors and get things done. I have been out and about and not up to date on chores so laundry was like a mountain about the size that my grandkids were sledding down the other day. So what better than to celebrate Pancake Day!

I found out that Pancake days origin is for “Shrove Tuesday”. The day I learned comes from the word shrive, meaning “absolve” Shrove Tuesday I found is a day observed by many Christians for self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent. It is all about Lent and making amends and the more I learn the more I wonder if it was not actually to be the day before Ash Wednesday.

A website called Baking Bits added that the tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday began as a way to use up ingredients including butter, milk and eggs that were not supposed to be eaten and would go bad during the period of Lent and that pancakes were a great way to use up these ingredients.

Well, I surely have a lot to repent for, my self indulgence, my lack of thankfulness for all I have and lately lack of dedication to the health I take for granted so I will use this day to reaffirm my dedication to taking care of God’s temple after eating my pancakes. With peanut butter and syrup on top the way my mother’s people eat their pancakes and French Toast. So, if I am as my mom always says, “A day late and dollar short” so beit, but anyway, Happy Pancake/Shrove Tuesday I celebrated it this morning and hope you did too!

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Murals, art in unexpected places.

Downtown Springfield has an art program that I am loving. They are adding murals like this of Lincoln the Surveyor at various buildings adding a touch of art to the downtown capital. The Artification project began in 2013 as a cultural endeavor. The city used local artists to create the murals that hopefully attract tourists to stop and visit Springfield sites.

My first real notice was of the Vachel Lindsay flower that accompanied a poem he wrote for the commemoration of the Panama Canal. While this has nothing to do with the mural project, the flower high on the wall on a recent cold, snowy, windy day in downtown lifted my spirits. It was then that I noticed the cool Surveyor picture and wondered how many others I have missed along the way. Art has a way of lifting the spirits and making you think creative thoughts.

For details on the project and its roots, log onto I just wanted to pass along the beauty of the downtown murals and pass along the thought of keeping your eyes open to beauty like that and raise a glass to local artists bringing beauty in unexpected places.

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Traveling Companions, Laying it all on the line

A traveling companion can add so much to a trip. Whether you are going on a grand adventure or an afternoon jaunt memories can be made, memories that you have no idea on that day that they may have to last a life time. This last week we said goodbye to my father. He was a homebody to the max, but during this last year, we had some grand jaunts my dad and I. He traveled with me to visit a museum in Lincoln, Illinois straight there and straight back of course as was his way, but the Lincoln Heritage Museum will always be special to me because we went together. Unlike his usual self he a former teacher, albeit only for a short time, that day was quite vocal on his opinions of Lincoln and what the man was like during our visit. He said quite a bit to the Director as we traveled from exhibit to exhibit. He had written a paper about Lincoln and his religion and through his thoughts on Lincoln I gained insight into my father, a quiet man’s, thoughts as well.

My favorite grand jaunt with him this past year was to Salisbury, Illinois where my mom and dad and I visited my friend Rose who lives in the town where my dad was born and lived the first eight years of his life. It was a happy place for my father and we drove all over town and he pointed out where he was born, where he tore through the streets being a boy and making the paths his own. Living a youth that sadly no child can have today, a freedom that no eight year old is allowed anymore. He also shared the hard work, the lawns mowed, the gardens grown and the love he had of his great-grandmother that shaped the man I so loved.

Yes, a traveling companion whether your dad, your lover or your friend can add so much to a trip. While you have the chance take the time to tell them how you feel and how wonderful they really are. One morning early this week, Garth Brooks song “If Tomorrow Never Comes” came on the radio and tears ran down my eyes as he crooned the words “would she know how much I loved her”. Thankfully I know how much he loved me, more than words can say, more than phrases I can write and today I am living on his kind words, his gestures, his smiles and remembering those short cherished afternoon trips. In answer to Brooks words,”Is the love I gave her in the past, Gonna be enough to last, If tomorrow never comes” and the answer is yes, it is enough to last until my last breath.

Tell your traveling companion how special they are, lay it all on the line.


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Avery History lives on at Knox College – Photo by Rex Cherrington


This lovely picture was taken by historian Rex Cherrington of Galesburg, Illinois. For the past few weeks I have been researching Avery history for one of my columns in Farm World and Mr. Cherrington has offered insight into this amazing family that changed the face of both Galesburg and Peoria, Illinois. If you, like me, love the agricultural stories of places you visit you too would enjoy a gander at this lovely building that was built in 1903 as the home of Cyrus Avery and now serves as the home of the President of Galesburg’s Knox College.

Robert Avery was a Union solider that was captured and sent to the horrific Confederate prision Andersonville. 13,000 Union prisoners died in this place from starvation, disease and exposure. My husband Keith and I visited Andersonville a couple of years ago, (in fact you can search through the archives and read about the prison) and we were amazed that anyone could survive this small piece of ground enclosed by a fence where men were shoved with little but what they had with them when they were caught to survive.

To keep his mental state while in prison Avery developed a cultivator that would launch the Avery Manufacturing story on down the line. The Knox County Illinois Genealogy site states, “It was while confined there, however, that Mr. Avery from sheer lack of mental occupation, first directed his thought to those improvements in the implements of farm work, the perfecting of which have made his name famous.”

After the war, Robert joined up with his brother Cyrus and together they developed the cultivator and later a spiral stalk chopper that Robert developed. While these machines would start and stop the company as they tried to make a name for themselves and survive the financial panic of 1883 it was the corn planter they developed that set them on the agricultural map. The original planter is at the Edison Institute Museum at Ford’s Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan.

The Avery Company manufactured equipment from 1872-1882 in Galesburg Mr. Cherrington said was through the partial purchase of the already established Frost Manufacturing Co a foundry owned by Joseph Frost. The original buildings are gone today, but Mr. Cherrington said, “A few buildings in the south end of Galesburg are the former site of Frost but they are of a later period.”

As the company grew, during the summer of 1882 they made the move from Galesburg to where they produced corn planters, check rowers, stalk cutters, cultivators and hand tools and the company was renamed the Avery Planter Company. At one time they were the largest employer in Peoria. Robert Avery died in 1891 while touring the Western US with his family in California of a heart attack. Cyrus Avery then took over as President of the Company and retired in 1902 building the lovely home shown above in 1903. Forty-five year’s later it would become the home of the President of Knox College.

Cyrus Avery died in 1905, but the company still thrived well into the 1920’s then suffered setbacks during the Depression and finally closed when World War II. Watch for my two columns in Farm World which delve deeply into the history of this fascinating family and agricultural history. When driving past Knox College think about the Avery connection.

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The Champaign County Historical Museum called my name

What is not to love about a building named the Cattle Bank? The Champaign County Historical Museum is housed in a building called the Cattle bank because it was once a bank and our guide shared that the building that was built in the late 1850s began as a branch of the Grand Prairie Bank, which was Urban, Champaign’s sister city. At the time Champaign was the southern terminus of a railroad line to Chicago and this was where cattle raisers from the surrounding area drove their cattle to ship to the Chicago market.

The brochure about the bank shares, “The Cattle bank building was built in the spring of 1857 by Messrs Color and Hubbard. Only one block from the new Illinois Central Railroad, it was formed to meet the anticipated needs of the local cattle producers as they prepared for shipment of cattle to Chicago. Cattle grazing was a major business in this are in the mid-1850’s, before the prairies were drained and plowed. the bank failed in 1861, and by 1865 had opened as a grocery store. It remained as such until the 1930’s when it was converted to a drug store.”

After a fire in 1971 the building was almost torn down, but thankfully deemed worth saving and was placed on the Natioal Register of Historic Places. In addition, they also added the adjacent building and together they both serve as the museum.

We were in Champaign to go to a toy show and I wrangled a visit to the museum with my husband Keith first when I learned the amazing history of the 1919 popcorn truck that they own. Sadly this amazing truck that they take out and pop corn in at local events is moth balled during the winter season, but the rest of the museum offered up some neat history so the visit was worthwhile.

The first room we saw during our tour was the replica of the 20th century grocery store that was recreated to represent the one located in the building after the bank closed. The store has a lot of lovely wood and is filled with neat items like an original typewriter and a turn-of-the-century stove. The store also includes a very neat old scales and a beautiful wooden ice box. Shelves are stacked with items that might have been found on early 20th century shelves.

Lovely clothing is on display in the room next door but my favorite piece of clothing to see was an outfit belonging to one of my favorite musical artists of all time, Alison Krauss, a famous blue grass singer that hails from Champaign. The outfit denotes an early award that Krauss won.

Like many historical museums, they have military history with some special items. For me as a mother of a son, the one that really hit home was the World War II Airforce uniform on display. This leather jacket and pants with the wool collar and cuffs were to keep the young men from freezing at high altitudes. The owner of the uniform never made it back from a mission and his family donated his extra.

There was also a cool machine, the Millionaire Calculator which was the first machine capable of making direct multiplication. They were built between 1899 and 1935. Only 4,655 handmade machines were built and the machine was donated by the University of Illinois.

The museum also had some interesting early toys and I had fun seeing the displays put on by local high school students and their idea of “really old” items. I am afraid they would think I am rather ancient, but if I recall back then anyone or anything 30 or more is quite elderly!







img_1158For more information about this charming museum, log onto

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A little education at the Specialty Crop conference

The Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference was held January 7-9, 2015 at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Springfield, Illinois. Since I am married to a grain farmer I always enjoy this conference that touches on crops I know little about. We have a garden and grow some of the regular sweet corn, potatoes etc., but this conference for me is like receiving the seed catalogs in the mail, a hint of spring. There is usually some herbs on display in the exhibition area, popcorn is popping, seed growers are there and farmers from specialty growers are mulling about comparing notes.

This year I interviewed a man that sells bees to enhance pollination and listened to a workshop all about root crops harvest and storage. My favorite stop though may have been to Papa’s Midwest Kettle Corn that is located in nearby Chatham, Illinois. Perhaps this was my favorite because he offered treats at his stop and I walked away with some tasty kettle corn.

While winter has its hold and the weather is somewhat questionable check out a workshop or conference and travel somewhere to enhance your brain power. I learned several things at this event, one, bees are shipped all over the world for pollination, there is a market for fall broccoli and don’t wash vegetables until you are ready to use them or they may rot. The most interesting things I learned though came from R. Allen Straw’s presentation about farming by the moon. “Root crops need to be dug in a waning moon, a 3rd quarter moon,” he said.

The reason he added is that the waxing moon has a pull on the Earth. “There is moisture with the waxing moon. The ground will be wet pulling moisture to the surface overnight”

Who knew? I am going to a community event today as a volunteer, maybe I will learn a lot of new health issues while handing out heart health brochures! Get out, stay warm, and expand your knowledge, you will be glad you did!

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The Harkey House brings out my own family memories

My mom and I took a trip back in time to the two-story Solomon Harkey House, a lovely Federal style structure that stands on the corner of Broad & Water in Hillsboro, Illinois. The home is the oldest in Montgomery County and was built in 1834 by Solomon Harkey.

Harkey came from North Carolina with his family, established a tannery then farmed and flourished in what was then a pioneer village. He built a house of brace construction that used bricks to line the interior walls. During our visit, we saw many wonderful items within the house, furnishings, paintings, quilts and even a pair of scissors belonging to Abraham Lincoln’s mother, but what hit home for me was the story that my mother told when she saw the bread raiser in the kitchen.

I had never seen a bread raiser before so that in itself was revelation. The bread raiser brought out a family story about my grandmother I had never heard. She said her mom loved to make bread and her mother told her one day they had enough bread and not to make any. Later when she got home she said, “Ena, I told you not to make any bread.”

When my grandmother (Ena) asked her how she knew she had made bread, she said she could see the soil rising in the back yard where grandma had buried it! It is neat to hear your own family stories when touring a historic home.

My grandmother has been gone for many years now, but hearing this story I can picture my quiet grandmother who loved cooking and cooked for her six children and anyone else that happened to stop by kneading bread and enjoying the rhythmic movements this would have taken. Ena Pearcy was not one who needed a lot. She really didn’t need much at all but a good book (primarily Harlequins), a comfortable chair and a bit of quiet.

Thank you Harkey House for bringing a bit of my grandmother back to me through my mother’s eyes.

. bread raiser

The Harkey House is a lovely home with a lot of history and worth a visit. The Harkey House is open on special occasions and by appointment. For tours call Betty Darden at 217-532-3691 or Janet Carlyle at 217-532-5642

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