We have always loved windmills and pump houses (tank houses) used on farms. We love how they look, love the function of them, how primitive yet well designed for what they needed to get water from the ground to the surface to use for animals and humans.
At our property in Nevada City, we purchased an old 1880's windmill from a cattle ranch that was tearing it down and put it on top of our well house. It always made a distinctive sound when it turned. We could tell if it was a mild wind that day or a strong wind by the metal screeching as it turned.
We moved that windmill when we sold our house, to the house in Manton when we re-located. Frank had just erected a tall metal stand for it and it was working a couple months before the forest fire went through and burned our house and everything around it, including the windmill which was melted to a big heap on the ground.
When we purchased this Gridley farmhouse, we knew we needed another windmill to have on the property. Aeromoter windmills are our favorite brand, there were many, many companies that were making windmills in the early 1800s, but Aeromoter was the biggest and most popular manufacturer. Frank found one on line; again made another metal stand for it; and with a friend took the tractor, ladders, ropes and pulled the windmill into place. Hence started our Windmill Farm.
One day I was shopping at a antique co-op and saw a wooden miniature windmill, I bought it and gave it to Frank as a gift. That started a miniature windmill collection and a semi-understanding about what they were and why the difference of sizes. A few of the miniature windmills were, actually considered salesman samples. That means when a person who worked for a windmill company would travel across the US selling them to farmers and ranchers, he needed to show them what it would look like, it was a lot easier to carry a miniature in his suitcase!!! But other windmills we found were for miniature child's (or adults) railroad train sets. Since railroad sets come in various sizes, so did windmills.
My favorite miniature windmills are the ones hand made by someone from the turn of the century to the 1930s. But are very hard to find and I haven't seen one for sale in several years.
The next collection to start was when Frank built a storage shed and it had this big blank wall off his shop.
For a birthday gift, I found a windmill "tail" on Ebay, had it shipped and gave it to him. Then I found a few more tails with different manufacturer names on them and different shapes. I found a few wheels (that is the part that spins around). And as the education about windmills increases, I discovered that very early and primitive windmills wheels were made from wood!! I had to have one of those but most were rotten. I did eventually find one that was 1/2 of the wheel which wasn't too large to ship. Most of the ones I found came from Ebay. I even found a windmill tail that was manufactured by "Baker" so we purchased it and gave it to our daughter & son-in-law for Christmas one year. Their last name is "Baker". They have it hung on their wall inside the house.
I have noticed in a few decorator magazines and on television programs, the windmill parts are showing up on walls. And windmill parts are becoming more and more expensive.
My ultimate acquisition would be to someday find a complete wooden windmill-wheel with a wooden tail.