No. 48: The Farmer’s Field at Ackley, Iowa

While I was waiting for a shipment of parts to show up from the US, I decided to get started on what I call “the farmer’s field” which is a foreground scene on my layout.

The farmer’s field area is about nine inches deep by 30 inches long.  The real field has probably been a corn field since the 1930s but I am not going to put down a couple of square feet of HO scale corn, thank you. Below.  The farmer’s field, ready for planting.  That’s Marshall Canning in the back.


Instead of corn I chose to plant beans and found a simulated bean plant from Silflor that looked great.  Specifically I used Silflor #766-22 “Agrarian Stripes with Leafs, Summer” that I bought online from Scenic Express. This is a larger package and you can do at least a six-by-six inch square with the contents of the package.  They sell a small package that is just right for a large garden scene.  The beans are made from what I’d call a pipe cleaner with a lot of nice close-to-scale leaves and greenery. Individually the strips don’t look so hot but when you lay a few down in a row they look really good.

The photo below shows most of the area to be covered, with the Silflor product laid out to test coverage.  The stark dirt color was a real eyesore, and I often rested my elbows on it–what a bad habit.


One of the features I wanted to add to my field was a narrow walking path between the fence and the field, and another narrow path down the center of the field. On those areas I put down some hair spray and the applied a light coat of Arizona Rock and Mineral #102-0 “Light Tan Earth (Kaibab Limestone)” to better simulated dirt. This is N scale material and I think it works great.

In the two photos below…my weapon of choice:



Below.  The spray is applied, and the dirt has been sprinkled on.  Once the dirt is down I hit it again one more time to seal everything top-to-bottom.

And one more view below.  I spruced up the area along the fenceline to make sure everything was ready for planting.  Even in the closeup below the “dirt” doesn’t look too bad.  remember it is N scale and it is giving just enough texture to be seen.  We’re ready for beans!


Next I laid down a bead of glue along the far edge of the field and began laying down the bean strips one at a time. I just used pain old Elmer’s White glue right out of the bottle and laid the strips down one by one. It was easy.  I left enough room between the rows for an HO scale farm girl to get through.


Below, the first row has been planted and next to it is a line of Elmer’s glue waiting for the second row.  The contrast in texture between the grass and the beans–texture, but not color–is just enough to make the crops stand out.


The Silflor product is not peel-and-stick.  The rows are still very easy to use and glue down as needed.


Laying down the bean rows went really quick.  I used a steel NMRA ruler to make sure everything lined up.


After about an hour, along with an ice cold La Choufee and listening to an old Real Estate album, I ran out of supplies.  I managed to finish most of the field.

My buddy Jason Klocke made his own bean rows using material he bought at a craft store called chenille (another name for…you guessed it…pipe cleaners) and simple leaf material. I think his look great. They are a little fluffier than mine.  Photo below by Jason, or maybe by Clark Propst.  I don’t know–it was one of them.


So I just worked my way down from them the trackside fence to the front of the layout fascia and that was it.  The track is not parallel to the fascia edge here, and neither is the farmer’s field, so there are a few blank spots where the rows run into the layout edge. Not a big deal in my book.


This worked so well that I want to do it again in a few more places on the layout.  Many thanks to the guys at Silflor and Scenic Express.

Below.  My youngest daughter Kirsten gave me a nice set of figures for Christmas.  She found–in a hobby shop in Munich–an agricultural figure set that she thought I’d like.  I think they fit in perfectly.  They are supposed to be German farm girls, but they look great simulating American farm girls.


If you get bored building box cars I highly recommend trying this stuff out.  It is easy to use, looks great, and is addictive.  – John G



One thought on “No. 48: The Farmer’s Field at Ackley, Iowa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s