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Basement farming

By Staff | Mar 6, 2015

Travis Bartling


BUCKEYE – What’s a young mantodowhogrewuponafarm, loves the work, but can’t afford to own his own working operation?

Well, Travis Bartling, 33, of Buckeye, works by day for a farmer near Alden and, by night he farms at home in the basement.

“I like anything to do with farm- ing,” Bartling said. “Since I can’t afford my own farm, this is what I do.”

What he has done is to construct 1/64th-scale farm layouts, buying and customizing some pieces and designing and building other pieces.

-Farm News photos by Larry Kershner THIS 1/64th SCALE grain storage layout, designed by Travis Bartling, of Buckeye, is in scale, equivalent to 800,000 bushels, he said.

His basic farm operation has

enough equipment, including a seed dealership, to service 10,000 acres – 8,000 in corn and 2,000 in soybeans, he said.

His grain storage is enough, to scale that is, to hold 800,000 bushels of grain.

Besides the farm house, he’s added Hereford cattle on a grass feedlot, Angus feeders in a monoslope cattle structure and feeder pig confinements.

“Everything down here is 1/64th-scale,” Bartling said. That includes more than 250 toy trac- tors and implements – mostly John Deere and Case IH – many of them he’s customized or wait- ing to get modern tech upgrades.

THIS GRAIN TRUCK is being loaded, while its engine is being checked. It’s part of Bartling’s grain storage layout.

Dremel multi-use tools are es- sential to customizing scale models, he said. They can cut metal, grind edges, drill holes, sand and buff surfaces.

Bartling said he grew up on a farm in Eagle City, east of Iowa Falls. He works year-round as a farm laborer driving and operating whatever is needed during the year growing grain on 6,000 acres.

“We stay pretty busy,” he said.

Bartling said he’s been collecting and playing with toy tractors for as long as he can remember.

It start with Ertl toy tractor models. But as his enthusiasm grew, he found he wanted more genuine detail in the models, so he started buying models from catalogues and farm toy shows that have the realism he wants.

BARTLING HAS A pair of multi-hybrid, 48-row planters, which he customized with fertilizer tanks.

That attention to detail includes his to-scale machine sheds and work shops, complete with drill press, grinders and work benches.

Right now, the shop is busy getting tillage and planting equipment ready for spring.

He gets many of his models and equipment from Matsen Miniature Farms in Roland.

“But there are others,” Bartling said. “It’s endless the stuff you can get.”

And high tech has come to this industry as well.

On Bartling’s grain bins, the vents and motors were printed by 3D technology.

“You can get some great detail through 3D printing,” Bartling said.

Many of his ideas for new farm layouts, or adding to them, he said, come while driving past other farms. If he sees new details he likes, he tries to find ways to incorporate them.

The hobby can become compulsive, he said, and thereby time-consuming and expensive.

“It’s not hard to go to a show,” he said, ” and spend $600. “You need a loving and understanding wife.

“At the same time, this keeps me from bugging her.”

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