Note: This feature is in the June TF 2017 issue.
Piet Bloed's farm toy collection is pure green.
While John Deere may be a common brand in many farm toy collections, Piet has scratch built some implements for his collection that may not be as common, such as a peanut harvester or a potato planter. And some are replicas of Dutch equipment that Piet used on his own farm.
A retired dairy farmer, Piet lives in the Netherlands. Martin Smits, another Netherlands resident who helped with translation between Piet and the Toy Farmer, also shared information about the area's geography: Several major European rivers, including the Rhine River, cross the Netherlands, basically draining parts of Germany and the Swiss Slps into the North Sea. The rivers that cross the Netherlands more or less divide the country into two. So, residents refer to being from either north or south of the rivers.
The reference is similar to the western Untied States and the eastern United Staes, depending upon which side of the Mississippi River is called home.
Piet grew up right in this river ares, near Arnhem, where he operated his dairy farm. The river area is known for its heavy clay soils, but it is good land for pasture and is also a well-known area for fruit production, primarily apples, plus and cherries.
The Bloed farm was purchased for rural development, so Piet and his wife, Jannie, who has her roots in the northern part of the country, moved their farm further north. The homestead is located only a mile away from the little rural town called Lauwerzijl.
Piet, who is 74 years old, retired from farming several years ago. The dairy herd was sold and the land is now used by neighboring farms, primarily to grow seed potatoes, which is a major crop in the area.
Until about 20 years ago, Piet was an avid marathon runner. He participated in a total of 170 marathons in the Netherlands, but also ran in the 26.2-mile marathons around the world, including in Berlin, Germany, London, England, and also in the New York City Marathon.
In 1965, Piet's first tractor on the farm was a John Deere 310. By the 1970s, the family was purchasing farm toys from the local John Deere dealership for their children. The children's toys prompted Piet's interest in collection. Soon, toys were purchased to be put on the shelf, rather than to be put at work at the carpet farm.
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