SIOUX CENTER—Art Kamerman’s yard is a magnet for animals.
Each day, passers-by can observe a flock of eagles perched next to the 86-year-old retired farmer’s front porch at his home in Sioux Center.
But, that’s not the only habitat Kamerman has attracted over the years.
Not a foot away from the eagles, a skunk family makes its home surrounding the bushes adorning the front of his residence.
Kamerman doesn’t mind in the least.
In fact, he put them there.
About 20 years ago, Kamerman partially retired from farming and decided he needed something to do to occupy his downtime.
“I had always liked cars and trains,” Kamerman said.
But, he decided to scale down his interest a little bit, and decided upon the perfect hobby — woodworking.
During the winter months, Kamerman began ordering car, train, truck and animal patterns from woodworking magazines like Toys & Joys and Meisel Hardware Specialties.
Each pattern comes complete with wheels and dowels, but Kamerman constructs everything else by hand.
Typically, Kamerman uses pine wood, which he buys locally and cuts himself, but for special projects, like the medium-sized fire truck he has on display in his basement, he uses oak.
The project, which Kamerman regards as one of his favorites, took him nearly six weeks to fully complete in 2005.
“It took a lot of technical work,” he said.
It did, indeed.
From the circular swiveling ladder to the miniscule muffler and door handles, Kamerman certainly had to pay close attention to detail.
It’s not Kamerman’s only pride and joy, though.
Surrounding the small-scale truck are shelves covered with a variety of cars, trains, tractors, combines, semitrailers and even a Hummer.
Each project is scaled down from 12 inches to one, so if a full-scale car is six feet wide, Kamerman makes it six inches wide.
And, with the exception of the fire truck, each vehicle also is painted, staying true to its real-life replica.
Blue and red ribbons also grace the shelves, which Kamerman has won from years of entering his projects in the Sioux County Youth Fair.
Although Kamerman used to produce such projects on a much heavier basis, now he is more particular with the time spent creating. If he only feels like working for an hour or two a day on a winter project, he is perfectly content with that.
While the number of great-grandchildren Kamerman keeps increasing, he continues to supply them with a special gift.
“If there is a boy, I make him a pickup,” Kamerman said. “For girls, I make mini rocking chairs that they can sit in for a while and when they get too big, use them to put their dolls.”
And, throughout the years, Kamerman has continued to see the advantages of his hobby.
“It’s just a good pastime,” he said. “It’s also good for my mind.”
Don’t be concerned when passing by Kamerman’s home, though.
Although realistic looking, the animals adorning his yard also are homemade.
This article appeared in the June 20, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.