Don Wheeler has grown accustom to people in cars and trucks slowing down as they pass his home near Hardin. Some even stop in to take photos and ask questions. It is all thanks to a giant ear of corn on the front lawn.
When part of a 100-year-old ash tree blew down by Wheeler's home, he did not start making firewood. Instead, he enlisted the expertise of nearby chainsaw artist, Donald Davidson, to create a masterpiece, or at least, a talking piece.
Davidson is known throughout the area for his intricate carvings of animals. He creates bears, river otters, and a few farm animals like roosters. However, Wheeler is a row crop farmer. "I knew exactly what I wanted," he says. "I wanted an ear of corn."
The two were a little concerned at first as to how their art project would turn out. Davidson did not grow up on a farm, so Wheeler provided a little agriculture education. He found his friend was a quick study.
It took Davidson a couple of months to turn a 9-foot stump into a 6-foot golden ear of corn. He made the kernels come to life by cutting grooves up and down, as well as, left and right. Then Wheeler says the artisan started mixing stains to bring out the bright colors of a harvested ear, a mustard color for the kernels and a pecan tint for the corn shuck.
"It turned out amazing," Wheeler says. "He (Davidson) is really gifted. He can take just a stump of wood and make it into a masterpiece."
Bring on the bean
However, Wheeler did not stop with just an ear of corn. After all, he is a soybean farmer as well. Walk around the side of the house to the wooden gazebo and there at the entrance is a soybean pod crafted by Davidson. "He did so well on the corn," Wheeler says, "I thought he could make a soybean pod."
Davidson knew little about soybean physiology. "He wasn't sure how many beans were in a pod," Wheeler says. Not wanting to be overzealous, Wheeler asked him to construct a 3-bean pod using some of the ash tree remnants. Using a chainsaw and stain, Davidson created a 3-foot harvest ready soybean pod. "I think it turned out great," Wheeler adds.
Truth be told, Wheeler is waiting, and some days hoping, for the other tree in his yard to fall. "Then I will get my 6-foot soybean pod," he quips.