Ask Me Anything! Let’s talk about traveling the backroads and see what cool places the farm, small towns and quirky museums have to offer.

Cindy Ladage
Jun 5, 2018

My name is Cindy Ladage.  During my Ask Me Anything, AMA, Ask me questions about my travels.  My blog is Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl, plus I am a freelance writer and I write for Farm World, Senior News & Times and Antique Tractor Magazines.  I am married to a farmer and you can find me at antique tractor shows, flea markets, and fun museums.  Ask me about cool places I’ve been that you can travel to as well! It is fun to get off the highway and see the wonderful places, especially with agricultural history.  Our world is changing so quickly and I think it is especially important to preserve agricultural history.  That is my passion.

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How often do you write? Do you still write even when you’re not in the mood?
Jun 12, 1:40AM EDT0

I usually write every day, not always, but usually.  When I am not in the mood, I may do more research or take a break and come back to it because when you are not in the mood, words surely don’t flow like when you are!  I do love to write though so unless I have an assignment for a story that really didn’t catch my interest it usually is fun.  I do admit though that I am not as bit on rewrites as I should be.  I love the crafting of the story and the research, but I am not big on the cleanup although I do like clean results!

Jun 12, 4:41PM EDT0
What’s your dream travel destination - a place you haven’t visited yet?
Jun 11, 9:40PM EDT0

Ireland is one of the places that is on my list of dream vacations. My husband and I really would like to travel there someday!  

Jun 12, 4:38PM EDT0
Would you ever write and publish a book about your travels?
Jun 10, 4:52PM EDT0

Kristen, great question!  I am actually in the process of writing an ebook that will be titled Unique Places in Illinois,.  I will be giving a presentation at a tea at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in September and it is my hope to have the book completed by then! If it does well, I would like to continue a series of Traveling Adventures in other states that I have traveled to and do ebooks about great stops I have found there as well!

Jun 10, 5:22PM EDT0
What is the historical depth of tourism in your area and how do you want to contribute to that through your writing?
Jun 9, 2:53AM EDT0

There are a lot of historical aspects in central Illinois where I live.  The biggest focus in central Illinois is on the Abraham Lincoln sites and Springfield Illinois and the surrounding area is home to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential museum and library which is world class. 

Lincoln's home, tomb, law office and the state capital where he practiced law is also here as well as New Salem where he worked at a general store and split rails.

Springfield is also home to the Dana Thomas house which was built by the amazing architect Frank Lloyd Wright. There are several other historic homes, in Springfield and the Governors Mansion too.  This area is also home to Route 66 which brings visitors from all over the World.

Central Illinois soil is some of the best there is with black soil that grows wonderful crops.  There are many festivals and celebrations as well as the Anderson Mansion in Carlinville that has both a spring and fall festival that includes an agricultural association.   I support these by writing about them both in my blog and the other publications I write for as well.

Jun 9, 11:12AM EDT0
What are you favourite destinations for holiday and what makes them your favourite?
Jun 8, 4:49PM EDT0

Some of my favorite destinations for the Christmas holidays include the Amana Colonies and Clarksville Tennesee.  For several years, my husband and I have traveled to Amana Colonies at the Christmas Season we love to stay at the Zuber Inn, a really cool old hotel that was once a restaurant and go during the first weekend of December when they have their Prelude to Christmas Event.  The stores are lit up in these old fashioned communities and what I really love is the open house tour that my husband and I go on.  Last year my brother-in-law and his wife went along and it was great fun. Here are some links to Amana stories travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com/?s=prelude+to+christmas.  

Last year for the first time I also visited Clarksville, Tennessee around the holidays and they really go all out to decorate and make this medium size town outside of Nashville TN glow.  There was also a fun art community that made Christmas shopping fun as well.  Here is a link to that story.  travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com/2017/11/29/christmas-in-clarksville/

In the fall (when we are able to get away if we are not in the fields) we really like to go to some of the Covered Bridge Festivals in Indiana and enjoy some of the fall colors.  Here in Illinois some other fall favorites are the Spoon River Drive which offers flea markets and entertainment all along the Spoon River.  There are a lot of wonderful fall festivals that I enjoy.  

In the little town near where I live, Virden has a hokey 4th of July celebration with a lot of homemade rides for kids that is also very Midwestern and quite fun.  I would love to go to some of the German markets in Europe for Christmas someday, but whenever I've traveled overseas, it has always been just before they started!

Then, it is not a holiday per se, but I really like to head south come February to get some reprieve from the Illinois winter!

Jun 8, 6:05PM EDT0
What do you think is the role of agricultural tourism in the growth of cultural experience?
Jun 8, 2:05AM EDT0

I think that agricultural tourism can play a huge role in the cultural experience when you travel.  Agri-tourism to me shows the basics, the true self of who the people are and the real experience of the place I am visiting.  Visiting a farm, or farmers market shows what grows in the area and there are usually farmers and people that work with the land on hand that have real life experience with the soil and can tell the true story of their experiences.  Agriculture is ever changing, so this cultural aspect is always changing as new crops emerge.  That is one reason I love the museums and historic sites because they can show the cultural experiences of the past that may have flourished at one time, but may no longer exist in the current climate.  Just because they have passed on though their importance is not diminished because the impact they had on a place is part of what makes it what it is today.

Jun 8, 1:43PM EDT0
How do you recognize the manifestations of the diversity of tourism? What can government do to promote historical and agricultural tourism in general?
Jun 8, 1:26AM EDT0

I try to recognize the diversity in tourism by visiting the local museums and historical sites whenever I travel. Each place has its own history and that history encompasses a diverse group of people.  I guess one example would be a trip I took last summer to Cedar Falls, Iowa.  I visited the National Czech and Slovak museum (here is the link to the story travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com/?s=slovak+museum) and learned about this unique history in the area.  Seeing museums like this helps me realize that each place is made up of the stories and blood sweat and tears of a mixture of races, immigrants and pioneers that settled in an area. 

Another town I visited that truly shows its unique roots is the Dutch town of Solvang, California. Here is the link to this town Another town I visited that truly shows its unique roots is the Dutch town of Solvang, California. The town  has windmills and a lot of fun history that makes a each place special and distubct from another. Here is the link to the Solvang story travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com/2016/04/15/elverhhoj-museum-of-history-art-the-heart-of-solvang/ .  

As far as what the government can do to promote historical and agricultural tourism in general, I really think funding CVB's and visitors associations on a local level is the best way to promote these sites.  Then sharing the information about these sites on a state and national level making websites available and when possible (and warranted) allowing sites to be national parks and protected lands so generation after generation can visit is a wonderful way to share our history.

Jun 8, 1:57PM EDT0

What inspired you to start writing?

Jun 6, 3:57PM EDT0

Darbie:

I have always wanted to write from the time I was a young girl.   I wrote poetry and fiction early on and , really it wasn't until I was an adult that I ventured into non-fiction and travel writing.

Part of what inspired me to write is my love of reading. I'm never without a book in my hand and I am always unwinding stories in my mind.  Then, when I started traveling, I thought, "It would be so cool if someone would share and tell about this beautiful place". 

When I got the chance to write for a couple publications, the writing world opened up for me and I stepped out on a limb and have never stopped writing.  Writing for me is a purge, a kind of outlet.  It is great to be published, but my need to write is greater than my need for readers, I would write even if no one read anything I put on paper.

Writing is something I love to do because I feel cleansed after I get what was inside, out on paper!

Jun 6, 6:32PM EDT0
To what extent, are the gender roles of men and women in the farming industry exaggerated and to what do you attribute the cause of this exaggeration?
Jun 5, 10:22PM EDT0

Interesting question.  In all honesty I think I think a lot of the exaggeration is in people’s minds and maybe media interpretation.  In farm families, men and women work together to get the job done.  Many women help driving tractors and trucks and work in the fields alongside their husbands.  Many men often take the children (or did more in the earlier days when safety laws were not as strict as today) in the fields in the tractors and combines during planting and harvest.  

I admit farming is considered more of a “man’s job” than a “woman’s” job but I think that is just following the gender bias of our society in general not so much the farm world.  If there is any bias among the farm population it is probably that of independence not willing to depend on others or be “team players” farmers, at least most that I know, both men and women alike, are strongly independent individuals that follow their own path, gender not withstanding.

Jun 5, 10:53PM EDT0
In what ways does your lifestyle fuel your writing and your writing fuel your lifestyle and what void does this dynamic fill?
Jun 5, 9:00PM EDT0

The travel which is part of my lifestyle fuels my writing because I want to share the places I go and the things I see with others so they can go and experience the wonder of the places off the beaten path as well.  One thing I really love about the travel when getting home and writing about it is researching it after the fact, it  is like visiting the site all over again.  I find great joy in looking at the pictures and learning new facts when I write the stories about where I have been and share this information so others can travel, or if they can't travel can learn about the people, and places and the fascinating world we live in. 

Travel and sharing fills a need, a void to give back.  I am so blessed to be able to see and do the things I do and see the places I see that writing about it completes this part of my life that would empty otherwise.

Jun 5, 9:24PM EDT0
Are you a first generation farm owner or has your family been in farming in the past and what is the most satisfying part of farming for you?
Jun 5, 6:46PM EDT0

Hi Kamaa!

My husband's family has farmed for years and the land we live on now was actually farmed by a family member years ago.  I however grew up in town and moved to the farm so it was a new life for me! 

We have been married for 38 years and the thing that I think it took me a while to grasp is that farming is not just a job, it is a way of life.  My husband lives, breathes and thinks farming. The soil beneath our feet and mother nature is quite a task maker, you never know from day to day how they will react and what each new season will bring. 

The most satisfying thing about farming is that what we do makes a difference, we plant a crop, God willing, it grows, we harvest it and it is a useable commodity that feeds and clothes people.

Jun 5, 7:36PM EDT0
What are some of the causes for which you have used your traveling and blog to create awareness and what about these particular causes are important to you personally?
Jun 5, 3:42PM EDT0

The main cause for me is sharing information about historic sites that have little funding.  Many small museums and rural communities don't have a lot of financial support and by visiting and writing about them I hope to highlight what they offer.  Through my visits and stories in my blog and in other publications that I write for, as well as social media, I hope that these out of the way destinations like the round barn museums, the grist mills and the small museums and tractor shows and festivals become places that visitors will come to.  I hope that these same visitors will then eat in the local diners and shop in the small shops and bring much needed monies into the small Midwestern rural communities where I find many of these treasures.

As part of the Midwest Travel Bloggers we try to highlight the beauty of the land between the oceans and share the history and events that happen here in what is too often called the "fly over states".  I love to go all over the US and beyond and find things to write about everywhere I go, but Midwest rural agricultural sites are high on my list of causes.  Events like the Half Century of Progress that happens every two years in Rantoul, Illinois shares not only old iron, but shows visitors that come to this event how the equipment was used.  This is one of the few shows where you can come and see antique machinery in action.  Here are links to some of the stories about the Half Century of Progress in the past:  travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com/?s=half+century+of+progress.

Another love of mine is animals and I support animal rescue and in particular of late the local Barn Cat Program, which teams up feral cats with farms and warehouse businesses that need mousers.  After we lost our farm dog (spoiled indoor 15-year-old baby) and  11-year-old farm cat we needed some cats, and this program fit the bill.  Here is a link to the story travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com/?s=barn+cats.

Being someone who is really big on supporting local, my charity dollars go to the local food panty and my church.  The food pantry is important to me because  I think food is the first neccessity and that it is important to take care of our neighbors.  There are so many other places that are worthy, but this is where I try to focus.

Jun 5, 5:02PM EDT0
What are the recent technological innovations in the farming industry?
Jun 5, 9:54AM EDT0

Although most of what of what I write about is on the antique tractor collecting side of the fence, recent technologies that stand out include autosteer, field mapping, GPS, and the use of drones. These technological changes have affected todays farming industry drastically.  I have often wondered what our fathers and grandfathers  would think about how we farm today.

Jun 5, 12:11PM EDT0
When attending the River City Sculptures on Parade, which sculpture did you vote for in the parade and why?
Jun 5, 4:28AM EDT0

Thank you for the reminder, yes, I did send in my vote!  I loved the River City Sculptures on Parade and it was very hard to decide.  I emailed my vote to the Chamber of Commerce this morning! I voted for the Puddle Hunter and I chose it because of the fun exhibted by the child in the sculpture.  

The art on the walk made this city so lovely.  On my hosted visit to Mason City, I stopped and looked at many photos and another favorite was a previous winner The Farmer.  Maybe because I am married to a farmer, but I loved the look of the sculpture.  I also adored The Actor and the bench where I had my mom take my picture.  There was also great fun at the sculpture The Architect facing the Historic Park Inn since it is a sculpture of Frank Lloyd Wright who designed that lovely hotel and his intersting past with the city! Here is a link to a story I wrote about art in Mason City!

Jun 5, 9:00AM EDT0

I wanted to add a note to this.  I just learned that the Puddle Hunter is being purchased so I voted for the Artist!

Jun 5, 11:59AM EDT1
What crops do you grow? What's your main crop and why that particular one? What has been your most consistent crop in terms of making a good profit?
Jun 5, 1:24AM EDT0

Corn and soybeans has been the crops we grow consistently.  While they both have been profitable, soybeans have probably been more profitable in the last three to few years.  We used to grow a little wheat too.

Jun 5, 8:48AM EDT0
What role do you play in the preservation of historical agricultural sites and what particular organizations are you apart of that aid you in this endeavor?
Jun 5, 12:37AM EDT0

I belong to the Graham Bradley and Sears Related club as well as a central Illinois tractor club and work torwards promoting agriculture preservation through them as well as working with the newly formed Land of Lincoln Expo, a  group that had their first tractor show and tractor drive in 2017. The drive was along historic Route 66 and was an opportunity to expose riders to the beauty of the historic route and help bring tourism to some of the Route 66 communities.

Besides this, I try to work with groups to help share information about historic agricultural sites through my writing, in my blog and in the publications I write for.  I am also a member of the Midwest Travel Bloggers and we all try to share stories about the Midwest and I focus on agriculture and the backroads.

Jun 5, 8:46AM EDT0
What was your trip to the Kinney Pioneer Museum like, what did you most enjoy about the museum and what was the best part of getting lost on your way there?
Jun 5, 12:30AM EDT0

The Kinney Pioneer Museum was a great find.  We saw everything from the beautiful bright yellow Colby car that was one of 900 made in Mason City, to one of the coolest musical instruments I have ever seen, a Regina Orchestral Corna that actually played.  My mom that came along loved the lace table cloths, the furniture and the period clothing.  

There was a lot of wonderful farm machinery and some unique history like the wooden cart that was used for hauling grain at the old Red Mill in Wheeler Wood, a city that has disappeared and is now just part of Mason City.  The hand carved wood yoke that carried maple syrup that was made by a Civil War solider was perhaps my favorite item in the museum along with just the variety of things to see and do. 

Getting lost is what I do!  I am as my husband says directionally dyslexic but thankfully, the Director of the Museum was a human Garmin that led us directly to this wonderful museum, that was the most fun!  Here is my link to the story about the museum travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com/2018/06/01/kinney-pioneer-museum-a-mason-city-find/.

Jun 5, 8:40AM EDT0
What are some of the historical agricultural sites you have visited and what unusual agricultural history have you learned from them?
Jun 4, 7:20PM EDT0

What a cool question.  There are so many!  One of the most fascinating places would be the Tinker Cottage in Rockford, Illinois which was the home of Robert Tinker, who was married to John Manny's widow.     The Tinker Cottage looks like what you would envision as the home of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  John Manny is important because Cyrus McCormick sued Manny for patent infrigement on the reaper and Abraham Lincoln was one of Manny's lawyers!

Another place would be in Galesburg, Illinois there is both the placard downtown where the George Brown Planter works once was, and a historic society museum where one of the planters is on display. George Brown is credited with making the first planter  Here is a link to some of the George Brown history.  .http://travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com/?s=george+brown+planter.

Another site that you would never credit with agricultural history was the Andersonville Prison where 13,000 Union prisoners died  from starvation, disease and exposure. My husband Keith and I visited Andersonville a couple of years ago and we were amazed that anyone could survive this small piece of ground enclosed by a fence where men were shoved with little but what they had with them when they were caught to survive. Robert Avery was a prisinor here and to keep his mental state while in prison Avery developed a cultivator that would launch the Avery Manufacturing story on down the line.  Here is the link to the story that mentions this.   travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com/2015/02/08/avery-history-lives-on-at-knox-college/.

There are beautiful round barns with amazing architecture that stuns, recently we visited a windmill that runs a grist mill that was built in 1874 that still exists in Golden, Illinois.  I have yet to write about this amazing place. Then there are museums like the Kinney Pioneer Museum in Mason City Iowa where I was a couple weeks ago where you see individual creativity like the hand carved wooden shoulder yoke that was used by George Lyman of Geneseo Township. The yoke was used to carry buckets while making maple syrup. George used this before he went off to the Civil War and left his wife and five children..  Here is that story travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com/2018/06/01/kinney-pioneer-museum-a-mason-city-find/. These are just a few of the amazing things I have seen over the years! I am constantly amazed how American history was affected by American agricultural history and vice versa.

Jun 4, 9:46PM EDT0
Why do you love to travel and do you promote sustainable travel, why or why not?
Jun 4, 6:11PM EDT0

I love to travel because it is a big beautiful world and I want to see and learn as much about it as I can whether in my own backyard, a couple states away or a country away.  I feel like my horizons and my world broadens each time I step outside of my "norm" and learn about other parts of the world.

My background is actually in the environmental field and I have a strong belief in being a good steward of the land, however I don't think I have always been the most sustainable traveler although I do try. 

The way I try to promote sustainable travel in particular is to frequent local establishments, I like to eat at local diners, attend local events and also to go to local museums and shop at local shops.  When I can I also stay at small local hotels or bed and breakfasts.  When in a city I do try to take public transportation and to walk when I can, I admit you can see more on foot!

Jun 4, 6:38PM EDT0
How have the tools farmers use in their trade changed through history and what were the sociological and environmental factors that created this need for change?
Jun 4, 1:44PM EDT0

This question, could and has spawned entire books!  As I'm sure you know, farming began by hand, then horses came along and farmers adapted machinery to fit the animal whether we are talking horses or oxen.  Once the farmers changed their mode of planting or harvesting, this required new machinery.  Some of the changes that came about when horses were the mode can be seen in my story on The Horse and Buggy Museum in Biggsville Illinois  travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com/?s=horse+museum.  After the horses, the next move was the threshing period which spawned a whole new sociological era with threshing machines owned by a few that went from farm to farm with the big threshing meals and groups of men working together to bring in the crop.  As time went on and machinery developed tractors were invented and tillage equipment came on the seen farming became a mechanized industry.  While I write about antique equipment, I am married to a farmer and just in the years we have been married, equipment has changed dramatically and now farm equipment has become very computerized and that has changed the game in an entirely new way.  While farmers, a very independent sort, once could pretty much fix everything themselves, many  now have to depend on the dealer in a lot of ways to come and set the computer when trouble arises.  Farmers today have to be mechanics, accountants, chemical experts, crop savy, and know the soil.

I do see specialty crop farmers as well that are making their way in the organic and farm to fork.  Some of them are using smaller or even old equipment to work the soil and in some ways are taking a step back to the smaller fields of yesterday, but these farmers are very market savy and on top of their game.

Jun 4, 6:08PM EDT0
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