Not Just Farm Toys - Old Traditions of Young Farmers

Not Just Farm Toys - Old Traditions of Young Farmers

Sitting in my agriculture technology management course, my professor holds a cherry red disk drill, using the model to explain a seed calibrating scenario. The following class period, he displays a green row crop planter – another in his collection of farm toys used for the introductory course. These teaching tools are not new to many in my class, as they might have cherished similar toys in their toddler days.

With the ever-increasing amounts of gadgets and technology tied to equipment used by farmers and ranchers, sometimes it’s refreshing to bring back the basics, leading into the complexities from a familiar point.


Personally, my grandfather (my mom’s dad to be specific) comes to mind when discussing these toys. He grew up on a farm, has made a career as a dentist, and is a self-proclaimed collector of these “toys.” A wall of shelves in the basement display them, and Grandpa’s excitement is evident when anyone wants to know more.



When my cousin, who is now in high school, was young, Grandpa would sit and play with whatever tractors my aunt had packed in his backpack. I overhead Grandpa teaching my cousin about what each implement was designed for and if he operated an older model, it would of course be noted.

As my cousin began to learn more there and at home, he developed his own interest in his toys and soon the machines they actually represented were his to operate. It wasn’t just playing that created this interest, but I know they were precious moments, especially for my grandfather.


The farm and ranch store at home displays many plastic animals and tiny tractors.. I know parents who have admitted to walking roundabout ways as they enter, strategically avoiding this stand, because it’s tough to say no every time. Similarly, parents would hate to discourage their child’s affection for all things ag.

While these popular toys may look like just entertainment, they are more than plastic hay bales being stacked and hauled and unstacked. They are also more than Holstein cows having to be put back into their pen after little sister left the gate open. Lessons are learned from these traditional games and the stubbed toes they may come with now and then. The aspiring farmers and ranchers, who pause for a cookie with milk or a game of fetch with their equally young dog, will not be young forever.


Today’s farmers were once on their hands and knees rolling around in a dirt pile or in the middle of the kitchen with their tiny green, red and yellow tractors. If this sounds familiar, anything with wheels or four legs held high priority. These seemingly simple toys teach future agriculturalists to shut gates, back up trucks to unloading chutes and make quick time of drilling an imaginary crop into the front lawn.

As time passes quickly, these kiddos, like my cousin, upgrade to riding in the combine with family between their practice rounds of running a combine through the living room carpet, where yields can be as high as desired. 


Although the scene there is unusual and not likely a common occurrence for the young boy, it portrays the eagerness young farm kids have to be just like dad or mom. This theme is carried through many popular markers within the culture of agriculture, subtly encouraging an appreciation and sentimental connection to this way of life. For example, Paul Harvey’s famous speech “So God Made a Farmer” from decades ago concluded by plucking at the heart strings of both parents and children who can relate.

“’I need somebody… Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life 'doing what dad does.’ So God made a farmer.”

Cover Photo Source: Wilderness










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