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Photos from the family album.

All of us at Farm Collector look forward to the February issue all year long, because that's when we get a chance to see tractor and engine shows through your eyes. When you send your favorite photos of the previous year's shows, it's like a giant box full of valentines.

When we shake out the box and look at all the photos, it's as if the air is full of magic dust. Each year, the photos seem to conform to a theme of their own choosing. My job is to sit still and try not to mess it up.

As we sorted and sifted through this year's batch of images, it quickly became apparent that we were looking at the pages of a family photo album. Nearly every photo seemed wrapped in family ties. Toddlers carefully wiping dust off engines. Moms and daughters working together at shows. Sons showing off dad's tractors. Cousins up to their ankles in mud at pedal tractor races.

There is a particularly sweet charm to family members sharing a hobby, particularly a hobby that centers on the past. It is a fine thing when a new generation is completely captivated by something that connects them to a time they'll never know. And when a person of any age learns a bit about mechanical devices, what makes them go, how they work and what they do, invaluable knowledge is spread.

But the family connection is bigger than that. When people draw family members into the world of old iron, the hobby expands. Chew on that for a minute. How often have you heard that young people aren't interested in old tractors and engines? How often have you heard that they're busy with other commitments, they have no money for a hobby, no place to stash a tractor or an engine? These photos say otherwise.

When people draw family members into the hobby, it is a uniquely effective form of recruitment. Newbies come with built-in mentors, and eventually pull in a friend or relative of their own. The old guard's level of engagement in the hobby rises. It's like a pyramid scheme that actually works!

Of course, not every family member will take the bait. Some will be a hard sell. It may take more time than you think. But when it works, it's a beautiful thing. Food for thought at the start of a new year!

Leslie C. McManus

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Title Annotation:FIRST THINGS
Author:McManus, Leslie C.
Publication:Farm Collector
Date:Feb 1, 2020
Next Article:Long-forgotten breed rediscovered.

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