The Straw Sculp­tors

Our farm com­mu­nity works as a team to turn big bales into amaz­ing art­work.


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.

“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

Afield 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.

Large 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

Story con­tin­ues on page 50 Karen, Al and Darla (above, from left) de­sign a new creation each fall.

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