If you're 30 or older and pay even casual attention to Indiana Prairie Farmer, you likely remember Carl Eiche, senior editor. From the late 1950's through most of 1994, he was a beat writer, hitting the roads and visiting farmer after farmer. At first he was the Indiana editor for Prairie Farmer. Then when Indiana Prairie Farmer became a separate magazine in the late 1970's, Carl became a senior editor. He was best known for his column, Indiana Ike, where he relayed the inside touches that didn't fit stories from his travels across the state.
Memories of Carl came flooding back last week when he attended the Indiana Farm Management Tour and Master Farmer awards banquet, which doubled as the evening program for the tour. Carl was one of the judges for the Master Farmer awards, and has been since his official retirement. That means he's been associated with the program for 43 years, ever since the modern version was restarted in 1968. No one else can make that claim. Until his retirement, Carl was in charge of the program.
Carl appeared out of the crowd at the first stop at Del Unger's near Sullivan, wearing the famous white, lightweight, wide-brim hat and tan shirt and pants whose predecessors of the same description visited many a farm in Indiana. At the second stop, he even asked a question of Mike Horral at Melon Acres from the audience. I couldn't help but kid him later, "Carl, seems like maybe you're ready to do some more free-lancing for us." That didn't go over too well.
These days, Carl enjoys retirement and plays a lot of golf, and still lives in Frankfort. Ironically, Indiana Ike was originally from Kansas, attended Kansas State, and moved to the same house where he now lives when he came to Indiana. It appeared a Kansas State reunion would break out when Howard Unger, Del's father, himself a past Master Farmer, wearing a K-State hat because his daughter attended there, found out Carl was also a K-Stater.
Recently someone wanted photos from the early days of Pioneer Village for the 50th celebration at the state fair. I have a huge box of Carl's photos dating back into the 1960s. He has them sorted by week. I doubt if anyone alive today has visited more farms or talked to more farmers than Carl Eiche. With today's modern communications methods and editor responsibilities, I don't get on as many farms as I like, not as many as I used to or as Carl did in his early days.
If you know Carl, make sure you tell him you saw this just in case he misses it. For 35 years he wrote about seeing other people in Indiana Ike. Gotcha Carl- this time we wrote about you! All of Indiana agriculture hope you and Harriet continue to have a great retirement!