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Farm Toys Made From Corn Cobs
Nebraska farmer Randy Reiss has an unusual hobby - he makes farm toys out of corn cobs.
Reiss makes tractors, combines, front-end loaders, planters, bulldozers, 3-wheel self-propelled sprayers, center pivot irrigation systems, pull-type sprayers, fuel trucks, and crop duster airplanes. Red corn cobs are used for wheels and red or white cobs for the body. Kernels of corn make headlights, pieces of milo stalk and wheat straw serve as mufflers, wheat straw with half a soybean on top might serve as an air cleaner, and milo stalks are turned into drawbars.
"No two toys are alike. They all have subtle differences," says Reiss, who works on the toys during the winter. He started his hobby three years ago when his parents gave him a corncob tractor they bought at a craft show. "The toy tractor wasn't any-thing fancy so I didn't think it would be too difficult to make some for our Lions Club toy show. But I was in for a surprise," says Reiss. "At first I tried cutting the cobs with a sharp butcher knife. That didn't work because when the cobs dry out they're as hard as wood. I finally ended up using a band saw to cut them. It takes a lot of close cutting and requires a lot of patience. No two cobs are exactly the same."
Reiss picks corn by hand before harvest. "Once corn is harvested the cobs are broken up too much," says Reiss. "It isn't always easy to find the right size cobs because most of the corn produced by seed companies today has long, narrow cobs. I have to do a lot of searching to find what I want."
Besides growing field corn, Reiss grows his own white corn, popcorn, and Indian corn. White corn has white cobs, and pop-corn cobs have a smooth texture that's just right for airplane bodies. He grows Indian corn mainly for the kernels and sorts the red ones from the black ones. He mounts black kernels on top of gearshift knobs and red ones on top of throttles or levers.
Reiss sells the toys for $5 to $10.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Randy Reiss, It. 1, Box 127, Wilcox, Neb. 68982 (ph 308 567-2443).

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1991 - Volume #15, Issue #3