Publisher's Post

dick courteau donkey trainer
On location with the Montgomery Wagon Train.
Travels with Joe - April 2021
publisher's post

Sometimes when I visit someone who has a large collection of antiques, whether they're kitchen tools, farm implements or just about anything else, I wonder how they got started.

A couple of days ago, I was in a southern Iowa town with about an hour to kill and found myself gravitating toward a nearby antique store where I immediately began looking for examples of Blue Willow china.

My mother always liked Blue Willow. It was our everyday dining room dishware. She had a variety of pieces and took pleasure in setting them out for us to use.

By the time I’d left that antique store, I’d taken possesion of two smallish platters and four large bowls. At home, I added these to our already largish set of lue Willow plates, mugs, bowls, saucers and sugar and cream servers.

I guess it would be fair to say that I collect Blue Willow dishware, but I don't exactly think of myelf as a collector. By having and using the pieces, I feel a connection with my mother that makes me feel good.

I think that might be why a lot of people collect some of the things they do. My wife and her sisters like to collect Depression glassware because it reminds them of some of their great aunts and grandmother. It helps maintain a connection by just being there on the shelf.

Charlie and Mary Greer of Pinckneyville started collecting vintage tractors in the way a lot of people do. It wasn't a conscious decision to create a collection. Instead, it grew organically as they added a piece here or there.

But what started as a modest grouping of a few old tractors has become an expansive and well-curated museum celebrating our midwestern agricultural heritage at the Illinois Rural Heritage Museum.

I spent most of day there with Charlie and Mary and had a great time as they took me through all the displays while I shot footage for our television show. There were so many interesting exhibits that I suspect it will end up taking at least two episodes to do it justice.

Check our program schedule to see when the first one will air.


I received a call from Les Graham the other day. He wrote the novels, Jude's Gentle Giants and Surrendering the Reins, many of you have read. He has always felt his stories would work well as a film, and he's found a producer that is interested in the project.

One of the scenes calls for the actors to be working on a Percheron foal in distress, and they are seeking an appropriate film prop to use in the scene. It is perhaps a morbid topic, particularly to people who may not be experienced with raising livestock, but Les is looking for the body of a foal that did not survive. It would be shipped to a taxidermist to be made suitable for using as a prop in the film. I personally know how heartbreaking it is to lose a foal, but it might lessen some of the hurt to know it is being used in a film that celebrates family, church and horsemanship.

If you or someone you know is a horse breeder who endured the tragedy of losing a draft horse foal, of any breed, please let me know and I will get in touch with Les right away.

I am heading out on the road to gather photos, stories and video footage for our magazine, calendars and television show. First I'll be on a wagon train for two of its 10 days in Alabama as they cover over 180 miles, then I'll check in with Roy Pilgrim near Fayetteville, Ark., who logs with a team of Belgians and uses some of the harvested lumber for timber-frame projects and other traditional uses.

A few weeks later we'll be covering the Corn Items Collector Show to see some of the interesting tools and implements and other items associated with corn in America.


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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