Publisher's Post - April 2024

hay press
Herschel Brichto explains how the hay press works as I shoot footage for our Rural Heritage television probram.
What's coming up on RH on RFD and more.
publisher's post

I was on the road a lot in February, visiting several horse and mule loggers in Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as a historical museum in Vevay, Ind. The county seat of Switzerland County in southern Indiana, Vevay is a beautiful town that once flourished as a shipping hub and still sports the grand architecture its affluent residents were able to afford.

Retired schoolteacher Martha Bladen serves as Executive Director of the Switzerland County Historical Society which manages the two historic museums downtown as well as the Thiebauld Farmstead outside of town. She gave us a tour of the museums, and we'll be featuring many of those exhibits on an upcoming episode of Rural Heritage on RFD-TV and on our Rural Heritage YouTube channel. She introduced us to Herschel Brichto, who has helped restore the farmstead as well as relocate and restore the haypress barn that was on the farm.

I suppose many of you may already be familiar with a hay press barn, but it was new to me. Imagine a building whose primary function is to take loose hay and press it into huge bales that would then be put on steamboats to feed livestock downriver all the way to New Orleans, La. In fact, some of that hay was then hauled along the coast, eventually providing feed for the thousands of horses, mules and other livestock in the country’s major cities.

I got a chance to see the hay press and am excited to be going back in May to see it actually operating. Stay tuned. I'll be sure to share the experience here, on our social media platforms and television show.

My visits with mule logger Zach Odom in Morrison, Tenn., horse logger Ben Burgess in Russell Springs, Ky., and horse loggers Jeff Ferge and John Walker in Somerville, Tenn., will be on episodes this summer. Lastly, on the way home, I stopped to visit Bryan Dale Headley in West Salem, Ill., and film a couple episodes in his blacksmith shop as he forged very nice door hinge for a cabinet and then a candle wall sconce. Those shows will be coming up in the next several months. Bryan does a great job, both with his blacksmith craft as well as his communication skills. He is a pleasure to work with and has been a good friend for many years.


A few months ago, a young man phoned asking us to help him connect with draft animal loggers in the southeastern states of the U.S. His name is Lucas Hales and he is working to get a graduate degree in Environmental Science and Natural Resources at the University of Alabama. Part of his graduate thesis is to survey draft animal loggers and create an index of them so landowners and foresters already interested in using draft animal power can find them, and those unaware of horse, mule and ox logging can learn of this important forest management resource.

The survey can be very brief, consisting of only a few questions over the phone. Or, if the logger is interested, it could be a more in-depth conversation or in-person inverview on-site.

I've spoken with Lucas a couple times on the phone and find him to be an earnest young man interested in the subject of draft animal logging. When I mentioned I could write about his project in Rural Heritage, I asked him if he was familiar with the magazine, and he said he was a both a subscriber and regular viewer of our video programs. In other words, he comes to the project with some knowledge and won’t require orientation. He says he is “looking forward to hearing from folks and really values their time and insights.” You can reach him by phone at 919-593-2262, or email him at The states he is covering are Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky. If you or someone you know logs with draft animals in one of these states, please consider helping him with this project. I am eager to see his results - jm

Contact Joe
As always, if you know of a person, farm, company or event you think we should be covering, either in the magazine or on the television program, let us know. If it is something you, a reader, is interested in, it would probably interest others as well. Shoot me an email at or give me a ring. 319-362-3027.

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