One Kansas Farmer

Please be sure to read the Pray For Rain page!

I've had a crush on the One Kansas Farmer sign for well over a decade. I've actually attempted to commission two different artists to produce a custom rendering of the sign. Seems it is a creative challenge too great for the greats!!

The rest of the story unfolds in two parts.

Part 1
The Smith Family
in custom tees in 1999.
I've long been in the habit of making custom t-shirts for my family. We'd wear them on vacation and then they'd go in a drawer never to be seen again. I'm okay with that. It's the thought that counts.

As I said, I tried to get a custom rendering of the official (Kansas Agri-Women) sign, but to no avail. But I don't give up easily. I've got what I think are some pretty nice rural agriculture photos so I made my own image/design. I like it. So, without further delay, here is the 2016 t-shirt design. Do you approve?
The Official 2016 Smith Family T-Shirt Design

In the wheat state / sunflower state we grow our share of corn, too. This is based on a photo of a barn somewhere north of Topeka, KS.

I ordered up a t-shirt for all the kids and I'm working on some iron-on transfers for the little ones among us. I know these will go in a drawer somewhere, but in decades to come, I trust that "the thought that counts" will count for something.

I worked on the t-shirts in May and June 2016. As of June 11, I was still waiting for the goods to arrive.

Part 2
Here's the hilarious part. On a tour through our beloved Kansas on June 12, 2016 my wife and I came across a One Kansas Farmer sign that was all but gone. Time and the elements had destroyed the once-noble sign. I slammed on the brakes and dodged to the shoulder of the road. Leaping out of the car I said to my wife, "what's left of the sign will be scattered on the ground". Sure enough, I found several weather-beaten boards strewn across the unmowed shoulder and easement. Grass grew through cracks in the panels. Some boards split in half as I pried them up off the dried mud below. In a noble act of selfless civic-mindedness, I collected this roadside trash in the trunk of my car... to be disposed of properly.

I left the one panel in the upper left that was still clinging to public life. I'm a scavenger, not thief. I loaded everything in the car and sat myself in the driver's seat to recover from the 95 degree heat. My dear, darling wife said, "Oh, I wish we had that one last piece." Before she could withdraw her wish, I was out of the car again and up the flimsy, nail-spiked scaffolding. I busted the last piece loose. Now I'm a thief. Chicks dig it.

We've "rehabilitated" the pieces that we managed to get home. We've reassembled the sign on a wall over the back deck. You'll see there's one significant missing piece. KANSAS FARMER isn't all there! I like to think that he delivered the groceries and is back out in the field growing more!! (* Note on 128/155)
Our sign in its new home over the back.

Nobody will understand the sentimental value of the sign and the t-shirts, except my wife and I... and our children who are forever curious and tolerant of their parent's capers.

That's the wonderful story, in two parts, about the Smith Family 2016 One Kansas Farmer design. Can't wait until next year!!!

By the way, there is a children's counting book inspired by these very same signs. We love giving them as gifts to the little ones in our lives. Maybe you will, too.

sign update in October 2012
* Note on 128/155 - When the billboards were launched in 1978, one Kansas farmer was feeding 55 people ("+ you!"). By 1999, it was up to 128. In 2004, Kansas Agri-Women declared that in the future they were not changing the numbers on the signs because everyone had gotten the point. But by 2012, the Farm Gals were out updating the signs again (which had received a new graphic treatment as well.) I featured the changing number (155) in my t-shirt design because I believe the ever-increasing productivity of the American farmer is an amazing accomplishment and should be celebrated.

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