Name Our “American Farmer”!

From left: Jay Lehman, “American Farmer”, and wood artist Joe Watkins.

“Wow, look at that!” “He’s huge!” “What’s his name?”

All these comments and more floated through the air at our Kidron store last few days, as our guests got an eyeful of a wonderfully unique wood sculpture of a larger-than-life farmer by Joe Watkins, a Lehman’s customer and friend.

The white pine sculpture is in our lobby, across from the Customer Service Desk, in the heart of our retail store.

But “American Farmer”needs a name! That’s where you come in–literally. Currently, we are accepting name suggestions in our Kidron store. Stop in at Lehman’s in Kidron, and put your suggestion in. We’ll narrow down the names to the five best suggestions. Once those five have been chosen, we’ll post them on our Facebook page, and give our friends there an opportunity to vote on the best name.

“American Farmer” in progress at Joe Watkins’ Georgia home.

How American Farmer Came To Be
The pine tree was transplanted as a seedling from Brass Town Bald, the highest point in Georgia, to the home of Raymond Doster in 1960. After a nasty spring storm in 2011 toppled the pine, Doster, not wanting the tree to go to waste, gave it to Watkins.

“I always knew I wanted to carve it as the farmer,” Watkins said. Although he’s only been chainsaw carving about 18 months, Watkins has had plenty of experience in woodworking. He owns Back When Carriage Rides in Winder, Georgia, and has been hand-building carriages  for Back When since 1991. “Most folks don’t attempt the human form until after they’ve been chainsaw carving for a few years. I just knew, though, who this fella was going to be.”

Watkns chuckles as he relates a story about initial reactions to his farmer. He was on an email list for chainsaw carvers, and he’d sent a photo of the finished farmer to one of the more experienced folks on the list, sharing that he, Watkins, had only been chainsaw carving less than a year at that time. “The fella didn’t believe me!” Watkins said. Just looking at “American Farmer,” it’s easy to tell that Watkins has put his prior experience in fine woodworking to good use. That experience gives his work a rustic and appealing presence.

With his chainsaw and fine woodworking tools, Watkins released our “American Farmer” from Doster’s fallen pine. The piece is over 7 feet tall. After a short exhibition on the porch of Watkins’ local feed store, he and his wife transported it from their home in Georgia to Kidron in their pickup truck. “Usually my wife and I come up in October. We stay at Zinck’s Inn, and just enjoy the area. I buy my horses up here. But it turned out that I needed to find a horse now, and when we were getting ready to come up, I said, ‘I’m going to go ahead and put the farmer in the truck; we’ll see if anyone in Ohio is interested in him.’ And it was a good thing he did. Glenda Lehman Ervin, Lehman’s Vice President of Marketing saw the farmer when Watkins and his wife stopped at Lehman’s in Kidron. She  knew he would be a perfect addition to the Kidron retail store. And so “American Farmer” joined the Lehman family!

We hope all of our readers have a chance to come in, see our “American Farmer” and submit a name for him. He’s just one more thing that makes a visit to Lehman’s worth the trip!

Editor’s note: Lehman’s Communication Specialist Alison Knight and web copywriter Karen Johnson contributed to this blog entry.

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