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Thursday July 19, 2018
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Toying Around



Groeb, perched behind the steering wheel of the big tricycle tractor, moved the herd's heavy daily nourishment of feed and hay into place. After the milking chores were complete, he directed the powerful machine to lift the heavy milk cans into the critically important refrigeration storage unit. In addition, the tractor powered the plowing, planting, and harvesting of crops on the Groeb farm.

Today, tractors still play a central role in Groeb's life, albeit not on the same scale. The home that the friendly retired farmer shares with his wife, Barb, houses more than 1,700 diverse makes and models of toy farm equipment. A huge display fills their large, long basement on floor-to-ceiling shelves. "I finally found the time to count each unit on display," Groeb notes, smiling, "but my wife reminds me there is toy back stock in boxes downstairs that I didn't count!"

Toy farm implement collections number over 3,000 nationwide, and it's not surprising that many of the collectors are former farmers. Groeb's grandfather first sparked Bob's interest in collecting farm implements, giving the boy his first toy tractor, a cast iron model, when he was five years old. "It's the cherished part of the collection as well as an antique," he notes. "Not for sale."

Nearly every brand of toy tractor is represented in the Groeb museum including toy models from England, France, and Germany. A Mercedes tractor? Yes, Groeb has a model.

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