Courtesy Kathy Corgatelli NeVille CountryA few years ago, Darla Hoff painted a pumpkin face onto a round straw bale to advertise her U-pick pumpkin patch at Al and Karen Goldman’s farm in Idaho Falls.
While Darla has stopped growing pumpkins, the annual tradition of straw bale art lives on at the farm and has grown to involve friends and neighbors.
Once Darla comes up with an idea, the team goes to work. Past creations have included an owl, Minions, dueling tractors, Thomas the Tank Engine and a teddy bear.
The impressive public art has become quite an attraction. (Be sure to check out how this NYC street artist turned ordinary objects into works of art.)
Courtesy Kathy Corgatelli NeVille Country“People who drive by seem to get a kick out of it,” Al says.
When Darla, her daughter Savannah, and Darla’s sister DeAnne Hoots painted Minion faces on three of the round straw bales, these bright yellow critters were the talk of the town. The Minion display was the site of a wedding proposal and children’s field trips, and it also lured many picture-takers and admirers.
“We all picked a different face and chose a straw bale,” Darla says. “It was my favorite display.”
The giant teddy bear was Karen’s favorite. “His great big smile just made me happy,” she says.
Dueling tractors have since replaced the Minions in Darla’s affections. For these, Al, a loyal John Deere owner, baled round straw bales in two different sizes—smaller ones for the tractor’s front tires and larger ones for the rear.
Courtesy Kathy Corgatelli NeVille CountryLarge square bales made up the bodies. Jerry Kienlen used his equipment to arrange the bales in the shape of two tractors.
Then it was time to bring the tractors to life. Karen and her daughter, Lana Hedrick, secured some green paint from Bingham County Implement in Blackfoot, and Steven Longhurst, a devoted Case equipment owner, got some red paint from Pioneer Equipment in Idaho Falls. (Have you seen the amazing art this barn painter creates across the country?)
Darla’s husband, James, sprayed the entire creation with a paint gun. For the finishing touches, Steven donated two shiny exhaust stacks, and Al and Karen salvaged two steering wheels from their farm parts stash.
Courtesy Kathy Corgatelli NeVille CountryThe farm’s annual straw bale art projects have become a way for everyone to celebrate the end of another growing season. “It’s just something fun to do together after harvest,” Al says.
Generations of these families have planted potatoes, grains, and alfalfa in this fertile soil. Raised on the farms they now cultivate, they grew up together as their elders did before them.
“This neighborhood has always been close,” says Jane Hoff, Darla’s mother-in-law.
It helps that Al and Karen are truly super neighbors. Every year they also grow about two acres of corn to give away. Al’s dad started the tradition 20 years ago, and Al and Karen have kept it going. Anyone can pick some, or Al and Karen will even deliver.
Courtesy Kathy Corgatelli NeVille CountryAnd during long Idaho winters, everyone congregates at the farm, where fresh coffee and cookies are served like clockwork at 10 a.m. and again at 3 p.m.
This year’s straw bale creation theme is Straw Wars. Without a doubt, the force will be with the team. And all eyes will be on Al and Karen’s farm as their creation takes shape.