The future of farming: hay bale art? - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

The future of farming: hay bale art?

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COON VALLEY, Wis. (WXOW) -

It's harvest season in Wisconsin. That means farmers are busy combining corn and baling hay for their cattle to eat when winter hits. The hay bales at the Gilbeck farm in Coon Valley have a different purpose.

"We feed the beef, then we sell a lot to the Amish," explained Gary Gilbeck, who grew up on the farm.  His wife Terry moved in when they got married 44 years ago. Neighbors call the Gilbeck's the most gracious and kind people you'll meet. But like many farm families they couldn't convince their son to stay.

Gary and Terry's son Chad ditched the farm life for a more 21st century job. He passed up art school for a more lucrative degree. He works in the Instructional and Information Technology department at Viterbo.

Chad is popular around campus and not only because he fixes computers. Chad channels his artistic side on the side of a hay bale.

"I've always said that I'd love to have a studio and do artwork. I still tinker and this is my outlet I guess," said Chad. "He always had an interest for art and always told me he'd have a room, now this is his one room to come out and paint," added Terry, his mother.

With a white bale as his canvas and his finger on a can of spray paint Chad churns out a masterpiece. Art that fits the culture. "My youngest daughter is a huge Pokemon person so when she saw this it made her day," said neighbor Heather Euler.

His most popular piece so far? The hail mary pass for the Green Bay Packers.

Although Chad didn't stay on the farm to work. He comes back to make artwork and the farmers reap the benefits.

"I just sit in the bobcat and watch him work," said Chad's dad Gary.

As the farmers work starts to taper, Chad's artwork has only just begun.

Chad has big plans for his turkey head creation, he's going to make it a stacked turkey with a painted top hat just in time for Thanksgiving. If you want to drive out to the farm to see his creations first hand it is two miles from Coon Valley next to Norskedalen on County PI.

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