Most Farm Homes Attest to Untouchable Toys - Illinois Farm Bureau Partners Most Farm Homes Attest to Untouchable Toys - Illinois Farm Bureau Partners

Most Farm Homes Attest to Untouchable Toys

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Joanie Stiers

Empty farm toy boxes take up more space in our attic than any other category of items, whether suitcases or childhood memorabilia. To my husband’s defense, my addiction to Christmas décor doesn’t count. We store seasonal items in a separate place, and besides, one of the themed trees uses tractor ornaments anyway.

I reiterate: these toy boxes are empty. They sit there untouched, ideal for recycling, except I am told their disposal would deteriorate the value of the 30 toy tractors and combines on display in our house.

From a farm family’s standpoint, the presence of “for-display-only” farm toys in the home seems as natural as fruit on the kitchen counter. In contrast, we eat the fruit or make banana bread if we wait too long. The 23 tractors and combines in our living room alone rest securely in their cabinet every day of the year minus the infrequent dusting. No kid fingerprints. No carpet farming. Only viewing. The shiny replicas of farming’s mechanical marvels even earn their own spotlight, which we illuminate almost nightly. Meanwhile, my good China sits in darkness.

Grandpa’s recent 80th birthday party redirected my attention to this normal, symbolic part of our everyday life. The kids and grandkids together created a “Top 80” list, which revealed 80 fun and loving facts about my grandpa, a lifelong farmer. The first statement: “A toy collection that never gets played with.”

My aunt from California’s L.A. suburbs contributed this observation. She referred to the farm toy collection that neatly lines several shelves on the walls of Grandpa’s tidy garage. They sit, unopened and out of child reach.

All my farming relatives own farm toys. Some replicate equipment currently or once owned on the farm. I identify most of these displays as idle, collected over time without aggressive desires to make additions. My dad places toys atop the farm office bookshelves, my husband keeps a second, smaller display in our bedroom and one of my uncles keeps them behind glass, too.

I remember when our son, at 18 months old, would gaze into the glass cabinet in our living room. Even the neighbor boy has stopped playing to stare. Adult visitors have commented, too. The display becomes fodder for conversation. Meanwhile, our kids own plenty of toys to farm the carpet or dig in the garden.

Grandpa does use one display toy as a mock alarm clock, a fact that also made the “Top 80” list. He carries a noise-making silo set – still in its box – into the sleeping chambers of his West Coast grandkids when they visit the farm. He causes a racket and informs them, “Wake up! You’re on the farm!”

Where not every toy earns play time.

About the Author

Joanie Stiers, a farm woman of West-Central Illinois, displayed a blue tractor in her bedroom growing up. Blue matched her bedroom décor.

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