My father-in-law, Keith, would have been 91 years old on Sept. 1. My mother-in-law, Ruth, would have been 89 years old. After Ruth passed in 1993, my husband, Duane, took over most of the responsibilities on the farm, and Keith’s adventures started. He drove all over the United States in search of Oliver tractors he could restore. As everyone knows, when you are retired, it is important to keep busy. He would call us to let us know he was leaving to go look at a tractor, and then return with a new project on his trailer. All along the way, he made new friends at every stop.
    With all this passion for these Oliver tractors, he started a collection, and boy what a collection it became. Annually he began taking a few of his favorites and displaying them at Badger Steam and Gas, Rock River Thresheree and a few other Old Iron Shows.
    The Rock River Thresheree is always over Labor Day Weekend, and would usually fall on Keith’s birthday. As he got older, many of his friends would meet up with him and have a party. This was important to do, while everyone was still around. His party was the highlight of the summer! Food, music, friends and family would all show up at his place and party until late in the evening. There was laughing, sharing stories, and making memories that would last forever. Keith’s party became a tradition.
    As the years went by, and friends passed, Keith’s party became even more important. The few that were left would get together and celebrate new marriages in the family and arrival of grand babies. The family was growing and the older folks were slowly not able to make it due to health issues or passing on. No one was forgotten. The photos of past parties were always brought out, and the good times were vividly recalled.
    When Keith unexpectedly died in 2009, he was the one who passed on that year. His many friends and family members attended his funeral and also the auction that followed months later. His display of over 70 Oliver tractors was put up for sale. We were all amazed how many tractors were in his collection! He had them packed and parked in his shed so tight it was like taking puzzle pieces out. It was a sad day when all were sold and everyone took home a part of Keith Hinchley’s Olivers.
    Everyone seemed to purchase a tractor or a few at the auction. As family members, we still try to bring his old tractors to the events. Mike Hinchley, a cousin, has a nice collection of tractors, and they have a little get together on the Saturday night of the Thresheree, but not like Keith’s.
    We finally made it happen after many years of saying “We need to all get together. We need to have a family reunion.” Just as it was when Keith was around, every year we seem to wish we spent more time with each other. It is important for our children to get to know who their relatives are and how we all fit together.
    My sister-in-law, Marcia, put a few posts on Facebook, made a couple phone calls, checked on dates and rearranged things so everyone could attend. The plans all fell together very well. Our daughters, Anna and Catherine, helped tidy up the shed, and we all worked together to make the pulled pork, cowboy beans and lemonade. Duane secretly ordered a birthday cake from his favorite bakery because the party just happened to land on my birthday.
    It was a wonderful day to have a family reunion. We actually needed name tags because for many of us it was the first time we had met or we have changed so much we didn’t recognize each other. Everyone brought a dish to pass: Grandma’s potato salad recipe, the favorite Special Klemp Bars, Catherine’s Cowboy Beans, so much food, and of course my birthday cake with ice cream.
    As the day went on and the photos came out, we all wondered why it took so long to get together. We visited and laughed about old stories. We watched the little ones just starting to walk and the young kids running, playing tag and just being kids. Cousins played together for just a few hours, while we remember when our kids were little did the same things. Time goes on, and we all recognized the importance of what the day brought to all of us. We are family, and we need to keep this party going.    
    After taking a family photo, we all ate a plate or two of food. It didn’t take long for the little ones to get squirmy and need to get out and go for a walk. All of us walked over to see the cows and the robots. We took a hayride out to the pumpkin patch and watched the young parents help their little ones get a pumpkin. We took photos, laughed, and just enjoyed the day together. Just as Keith saw the importance of his party, we all agreed “this needs to be a tradition.”
    Tina Hinchley, her husband, Duane, and their daughters, Anna and Catherine, milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots. They also farm 2,300 acres of crops near Cambridge, Wisconsin.  They have been hosting farm tours for over 20 years.