Portland, a rainy oasis of tractors and stuff!

When we went to the spring swap meet it rained, and when we went to the late summer tractor show it rained. There must be something about the Tri State Gas Engine and Tractor Show that draws moisture out of the skies.  Before we went we went online to check the weather, there was an 80% chance of rain, but we decided to brave it.  The show was held August 20-24th and we arrived the morning of the 22nd after a 3-4 inch rain.

Keith sacrificed his rubber boots for my greater good and I duck walked looking a bit like Bozo the clown into the mire. Rain gear was only needed during the early hours.  After the sun came out and walking for about an hour we got the golf cart out and played mug bog in the rain soaked paths.

Ford was the featured brand at what is touted as the largest tractor show in the nation.  John Bensyl, a Ford collector from Penfield, Illinois was helping out in the Ford tent and said that as of Friday they had over 200 Fords at the show with more still to come.  There were many unusual Fords and Keith and I were fascinated with the crawler versions.

The beauty of this show, weather withstanding is the great variety of things you see.  From golf carts filled with a million people plowing through the mud to a Happy Farmer, Minneapolis Moline UDLX and a Ford Gold Demonstrator, there is something for everyone that likes old iron. 

The show was a break before the combine starts rolling and a chance for one on one time with the hubby before the long hours make conversations hurried “bring me this” and “I need that” those phrases that document the days of harvest.  So, when he said “Let’s go” I was all in before we get too tired and are all out!Log onto http://www.tristategasenginetractor.com/index.php for more information.





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Lipe Orchards, five generations of family on the farm


On a recent girls trip to Southern Illinois I found myself in Carbondale at Lipe Orchard where we made a stop to accommodate my husband’s love of Southern Illinois peaches.  The peaches were just part of the produce available at this family business.  I had fun speaking to Rose Lipe who told me that her husband’s grandfather started the business back in the 1800’s.

husband’s grandfather started the business in the 1880’s.  He planted the trees, back then everyone had a home orchard.  People had asparagus, chickens and eggs and more. ”

 Rose explained that orchards would take their produce to a nearby railway station to load it on a train to be shipped to Chicago.  “The train stopped at 4:00 in the afternoon. Farmers would bring in their produce, they even shipped cream.”

We had stopped earlier in Makanda which while today is an artists haven was once a huge train stop where the surrounding towns brought their produce to travel on what they called the “Fruit Express”.

It was interesting seeing how ingrained the love of the farm still is for Rose Lipe who has passed the orchard onto her children.  At the roadside stand that is on Illinois street, her daughter Laura grand daughter Molly and grandson Jared were all working together helping out the group of visitors that wanted fresh fruit from a local source.  3 generations Lipes were onhand at the stand. Today the family business is in the hands of the 4th generation with working members of the 5th.  Rose says that “helping out” is her therapy.

What a legacy we all would love to have, being surrounded by our family in a business we love.  Kudos to the Lipe family!

For more information about Lipe Orchards, log onto http://www.lipeorchards.com.

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The Hot Air Balloon ride, crossed off the bucket list!

When I covered the Lincoln, Illinois Balloon Festival taking place this weekend, August 22-24th, I saw that they were offering hot air balloon rides.  This has been on bucket list for a couple of years, the thought of floating over fields and forest has long been a dream of mine so I didn’t hesitate when I saw openings for the Sunday morning slot.  My dedicated husband that wasn’t too sure about the whole thing accompanied me to the Logan County Airport for the 5:45 a.m. meeting where we met up with our pilot Tony and his crew. 

We traversed the countryside to a park in Elkhart for the launch.  Three other ladies, a grandmother, daughter and grand daughter were all riding celebrating a year anniversary of a very private victory. The three and family and friends began the launch with a toast.  I soon found out they were from neighboring towns and we had a lot of acquaintances in common.

The whole process is like an aerial ballet. The unfurling of the balloon, the filling with air and flames shooting out to the rising as the balloon inflates.  We luckily had the only balloon that had a door so we just had to duck.  Keith shot pictures and followed the balloon while the ladies, Tony and I soared into the wild blue, blue cloudless sky.

Before we knew it we were at 1500 feet and floating.  Balloons were floating all around us, the sky over I-55 was filled with early morning riders.  Fields and farms looked like patch work quilts below.  Anyone that has ever been to Dyersville, Iowa to the National Farm Toy Show and saw some of the farm layouts would have a perspective of our view.  Beautiful and serene the ride was like standing still in the air with scenery moving by.

I loved every minute of the ride.  The landing was a bit bumpy, Tony warned us to hold on and we bounced down into a hay field without too much of a jolt.  Keith and the crew were waiting to pick us up.  Tony and his crew poured us a mimosa toast and we raised our glasses to a dream off a couple of women’s bucket lists and to celebrating life in all of its fragility.

God’s heaven laid at my feet

His glory crowned the sky

His miracles did greet

Us as we headed out to fly

Minutes out of a day

Seconds out of a year

I took the time to weigh

The little blessings that are here.



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Massey Ferguson Service Analyzer comes to LaGrange IN Tractor Show

These 33rd annual Antique Power Steam and Gas Show was held August 7-10 at the 4-H Fairgrounds in LaGrange Indiana and Ferguson equipment was the featured brand.  This year the Ferguson Enthusiasts of North America (FENA) held their National show on the grounds and the show brought around 66 Fergusons to the show with some coming from as far away as Quebec.

Along with tractors, one very cool item also made its way under the Ferguson tent, Richard Kimball’s engine analyzer. “The technician could determine what was wrong.  I found this at the Portland Indiana tractor show.  It is a good show, the biggest I have ever been to.”

Richard Kimball is from West Liberty, Ohio and has been a Ferguson enthusiast for years.  “I started collecting seriously in the early 70’s,” Richard said.  “The first tractor I bought was the Ferguson 40 on the baler I think.”

After that his collection grew as he purchased more Ferguson 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.  “I bought several in between if I could find them at a decent price,” Richard said.

“I grew up on in the late 50’s on a Ferguson 30.  My granddad had a 30 so when he quit, we bought it, then we went with the Massey Ferguson dealership until they closed up.”  Picking up implements from auctions in the 1980’s and 90’s rounded out his collection. 

“You get hooked because all these will fit onto the 3-point hitch.  I have about every implement they made,” Richard said.

When asked if he had a favorite, Richard said no, “One is as good as the other and they are all easy to work on. Now days you can’t do anything, I am a shade mechanic.”

The analyzer he had would have determined just what the problem was before the Ferguson would have been fixed and on its way!  For more information about the LaGrange show, log onto http://www.lagrangeengineclub.com/.



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Portland Antique Tractor Show



At the Portland Indiana Antique tractor show, you never know what you might see!

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Eudora Farms adds a bit of exotic to the Illinois State Fair


Horses, cattle, sheep, pigs and goats may be the mainstay at the fair, but Eudora Farms from South Carolina (near Aiken) had an array of exotic animals that kids and adults alike could enjoy up close and personal. This was one of my favorite stops at the fair. Located in the former Happy Hollow, I along with my mom Lora Disque perused animal after animal.

Mark Nisbest said that Eudora Farms has been open a little over 20 years. “We started out using miniature donkeys for our personal use. Then we got a Watusi cow and friends started coming over to see them. Sunday school groups wanted to see them then it led to a pumpkin patch and tours in wagons, then came a camel and now people ask us to do events.”

The mission at Eudora Farms is “to present an educational and interactive animal adventure like no other. Everything from Antelope to Zebra roams our countryside setting and we want to share our experience and the beauty of these animals with as many visitors as possible. Education is the key to preserving these animals for future generations to enjoy.”

With over 200 animals at their farm, the Nesbit family brings animals to events like the Illinois State fair for visitors to enjoy. Many enjoyed feeding some of the animals like the giraffe who Nisbest said is their rock star. Besides the close up interaction, there are signs that share information about animals not often seen on the North American continent. For more information on Eudora Farms check out their website at http://www.eudorafarms.com/.

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Sam Hunt, Dan & Shay and Hunter Hayes, plus the Illinois State Fair!

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A night out at the Illinois State Fair always spells the end of summer for a farm girl.  This was kind of a last hurrah, a fun concert and walk through the grounds with my friend Rose before harvest time.  Our first stop was the Illinois Lottery where Rose everything out.  We entered the sweepstakes and I won a $2.00 on a scratch off ticket, the night was off to a good start.

After a few stops at the butter cow, a chance to pet a rabbit in the petting zoo and a sit on a funny stool with legs  and a stop at the vintage ag display we made our way to the grandstand where I settled in to tweet about the concert. This was my first time blogging about a concert; it has been a great experience.  Loving country music as I do, a chance to combine two favorite things, writing and music was a win/win.

First up was newcomer Sam Hunt.  “I really liked his music,” Rose Hammitt said at the end of his set.

A Georgia boy is both a singer and song writer.  His work encompasses both country and hip-hop giving him his own style.  He has written songs sung by Kenny Chesney, Billy Carrington and the latest “Cop Car” by Keith Urban.  Last night he brought his own special style to Springfield and had the crowd swaying to “House Party”.

Next up were the Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney that comprise the duo Dan &Shay.  The two are famous for the debut singles “19 You + Me” as well as other songs.  Meeting at a house party at Smyers home in Nashville, the two have only been writing and producing music together since 2012.

The two young men like Hunt are both singers and songwriters and the crowd responded to their rock/country sound.  “I love their harmony,” Rose added enjoying their combined talents.

The Springfield listeners raised their voices and put their hands together in appreciation when the premier act singer/songwriter Hunter Hayes came on stage.  Sitting next to Rose and I was an attorney from New Orleans who came to visit his daughter.  He was a very interesting fellow and said that Hunter Hayes was from a town near New Orleans Louisiana called Breaux Bridge.

It is a small world!

Hunter Hayes began his session with rousing numbers that brought many to their feet and showcased his amazing talent with his guitar solos. The highlight of his performance for me was how humble he was and his song “Invisible” where the lyrics were so encouraging everyone to follow their dreams.  “I am a geek and a nerd and I always will be,” Hayes said on stage.

The singer is a true inspiration.  “I think he is a great role model for young people today,” Rose said.

All in all, it was a good night and this was just one of the amazing concerts that is part of the Illinois Lottery’s Anything is Possible Media Series.  For more information about the series, check out http://bit.ly/1nVuZaJ.

By the way, I did manage to be good and bypass the highest caloric fair food.  I succumbed to popcorn, but hey, I was at a show!

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Hunter Hayes here I come, thank you Illinois Lottery!

Got out the hat, got out the boots and turned it all in for tennis shoes!  Getting ready to go to the Hunter Hayes concert tonight. The concert is part of the Anything is Possible Music Series put on by the Illinois Lottery.  I got the lucky blog writer draw to be able to cover this awesome event.  I don’t know of many country musicians as talented as Hunter Hayes. 

Follow my tweets and my blog and I will let you know how the concert and the visit to the Illinois State Fair go.  Rose Hammitt and I will be stopping in at all the fun places like the horticulture building, the dairy barn and more.  The butter cow is a must see along with the vintage antique tractors.  If you love the Graham Bradley, let us know that one is ours!

I am trying to have a healthy fair visit, but I may have to succumb to some Culvers fries! 

For more information about the series, check out http://bit.ly/1nVuZaJ . Music row, aka Illinois State fair, here I come.



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The Saint Louis Zoo was a wrap

The Illinois State Fair is here, my husband is getting the combine ready for harvest and the tomatoes are ripe, this all means summer like a full moon is beginning to wax and wane. For a last hurrah with the grandkids my daughter and I headed down to St. Louis Zoo.

The first stop on the horizon was the Sea Lion show. I think Lilly must have been thinking of Disney World and the characters who sang and danced with a lot of flash. She was not duly impressed with the tricks of the sea lions. Her comment to my daughter was, “This is not the show I expected.”

The elephants, statues and other interactive items and especially the train though did live up to expectations. Voted (by someone they claimed over the loud speakers) the best zoo in the world recently, the St. Louis Zoo offers art, statues, animals, architecture, horticulture and even unique gifts. My grandson Cade was quite enamored with the binoculars and if I could have bought some without him knowing it, that would have been one less present down the road.

This week was “shark week” at the zoo and my husband Keith has been keeping up with statistics on the shark attacks. Quite convinced that too many dips in the ocean will result in a lost limb, I tried to buy a shark head on a stick, but they were sold out.


The zoo is a magical place with animals I had never heard of. Keep it on your list if you live in the Midwest!

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Steam at Hamilton, Illinois thresher show-Picture Keith Ladage

There is something magical to me about old steam engines. Steam trains, steam engines, water and heat working together seems natural. I know the engines take someone with a great knowledge and talent to run the old beauties and I appreciate the effort that the collectors take to bring these huge machines to shows.

Over the first weekend in August Keith and his brother Kim headed out to the Western Thresher Show in Hamilton, Illinois. This year they celebrated there 47th Annual Western Threshers Show that began like many as a group of collectors. They met in 1968 to decide how they wanted to display their growing collection of antique tractor.

I was unable to go, but enjoyed the pictures he brought back and I hope you will too. Besides the thresher show held the first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in August, Thresher’s host school tours in May for hundreds of area children. For more information about the show, log onto http://www.westernillinoisthreshers.org/index.html



Keep in mind other chances to see steam in action are still coming up. In fact, next week, the 55th Annual Steam, Gas & Threshing Show held in Pinckneyville, Illinois is going on. The show is featuring Ford & Fordson and will be from August 14-17, 2014. Log onto http://www.americanthresherman.com for more information.

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