It seems like we are always in hurry to get from Point A to Point B. The same roads are traveled over and over, until any bump in the road tell us how many bumps are left until our destination is reached.
The quickest route to our son’s farm is via the interstate. Therefore, practicality doesn’t allow for much variance. We seldom vary from the one hurried stop that we allow ourselves. After all, we should have been there working three hours ago. In a way our own minds have developed that despicable ‘fly over/drive by’ notion.
But last summer, we did something out of the ordinary. We pulled off the interstate to visit the South Dakota Tractor Museum right at the Kimball exit on I90. This museum opened its doors in 2000. So for sixteen years we have driven past, often commenting on it, but never stopping.
Its roots are definitely in agriculture. The idea came from a group of individuals who had restored tractors and each had his own eclectic collection of antique farm items. They made the decision to open a museum so others could enjoy the sundry items.
It is still run by a board of seven community members and staffed by volunteers who donate their time to make your visit a thorough enjoyable one with a real education on how these antiques were once used.
The day we stopped we met the nicest couple. The ninety year old gentleman was a walking history storyteller.
Our tour started in the kitchen, a really important place on the farm. Not only was good food prepared there, but hopes and dreams were discussed around the table as the simple act of eating together took place.
I am always constantly amazed at the work farm women have done, from the kneading and baking of bread, to the laborious work of keeping the family in clean clothes, often sewed and mended by their own fingers. Seldom do I read an autobiography in which they complain.
Thankfully the farm chores would have kept me too busy to get a perm, as that machine one terrifying contraption. Because by the time I would have gotten the cream separator figured out, there would have been eggs in the incubator that needed turning, and the lamp chimneys were getting a bit smoky.
Interesting as the family life building was, there were plenty more buildings to go through. And I knew once we got to the farm machinery and farm tools, my farmer would be lost for hours in the world of days gone by.
But he wasn’t alone in finding the hours spent fascinating. Our guide explained how things work, because they had been part of his life. The horse drawn implements were no stranger to him. It wasn’t until the pastures dried up in the 30’s, and the horses died, his family purchased its first tractor.
He is pictured atop a high pyramid of fresh cut grass hay. He didn’t mind the hard work, because farming gave him the independence he needed.
The multiple displays of old farm tools, will surely have any know-it-all scratching his head over ‘what is that’ at some time during the tour.
It’s called a tractor museum for a good reason, because there are sheds full of tractors of every color and names. Some are very rare. Yet the museum is much more than just tractors.
The grounds have been immaculately groomed each time we have driven by. Inside the eight buildings the displays were spotless and wonderfully displayed.
We plan to stop back another time, as we didn’t have time to take it all in. With a planted prairie on the back forty, there will always be something different to see. The museum opens in late May until the end of September. No admission is charged, but donations are welcomed.
Lord willing, we will be visiting our son many times again this year. I kinda think we will find many more interesting places. And it’s a sure thing we will be shaking the hands of some of the nicest people around.
What have you been driving by for years?