If you’re fascinated by antique hay tools – barn pulleys, grappling forks, hay spears, hay carriers or other barn accessories – Doug de Shazer of Crofton, NE, would like to hear from you.
De Shazer and his friend Steve Weeber of Iowa City, IA, are founding members of the National Hay Tool Collectors Association (NHTCA). Roughly a year old and with a growing list of nearly 150 members, the association is geared toward helping collectors share information about their hand hay-tool collections and learn more about tools produced in other regions of the country.
De Shazer’s own collection got started by accident seven years ago. “I was admiring a pulley at a farm show and a friend bought it for me,” he relates. “By the end of the day, I was carrying 15 pulleys out to my car.”
Today, de Shazer owns several hundred pulleys, an equal number of carriers and numerous related accessories. “I’m very mechanically minded by nature,” he says. “I’ve always been fascinated by the engineering and design of the pulleys and carriers. They’re so ornate and detailed. A lot of them are out-and-out gorgeous.”
He and Weeber met at a collectors’ event in Grass Lake, MI, about a year ago. “We got talking about trying to get a group going. We put together a list of collectors and mailed out 300 letters. When we got a pretty good response to the mailing, we figured we’d give it a go.”
A newsletter published by de Shazer is the focal point of the association. Published every other month, it offers profiles of members, features on manufacturing company histories and updates on farm shows and events held around the country. The publication is delivered via the Internet at no charge. Association members who want a hard-copy version pay $15/year. The fee covers printing and mailing costs. “Some of our older members don’t use the Internet,” says de Shazer. “When they first contact me, I encourage them to ask a family member or friend with Internet access to let me deliver the newsletter to their e-mail address so they can print it off for the member.”
Future plans for the association include developing a Web site that will enable members to post items they have for sale. The site is expected to be up and running sometime later this year. “It’s been keeping me plenty busy,” says de Shazer, who is self-employed as a general contractor. “But it’s been a lot of fun, too."
To learn more about NHTCA, contact de Shazer by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 402-510-8845.