(WVUE) - When a Louisiana farmer noticed that his eyesight was failing, he realized he couldn't hunt or fly an airplane anymore. So he searched for a new hobby. What he found has kept him busy, and amazed visitors, for more than two decades.
When you drive by Kelly Hundley's place north of Crowley, you can tell right away that farming is a big deal there. There's an antique tractor and other hand-me-down farm gear on the front lawn. But there's something else that goes beyond the farming of rice, soybeans and crawfish.
"This is my dad's first John Deere tractor," Hundley said. "He bought it in April of 1965 in Crowley, Louisiana. This was his first John Deere combine. It's a 1949."
Hundley can't resist buying farm toys, especially model John Deere tractors and anything else with the green and yellow design. His toy collection got started in 1989 when Hundley and a couple of his brothers were on a road trip in northern Arkansas. They were looking for some used farm equipment.
"We bought toys, we bought toys and we bought toys until it was no more good," Hundley said.
A few of the larger items, like this motor home, are not made by John Deere. But here in farm country, the custom paint job can turn heads.
"They'll look at it, and then they'll say, 'Man I didn't know John Deere made motorhomes.' I said, 'Only for one year.' And I leave them like that," Hundley said, laughing.
And a few visitors have donated to the collection, including some friends from Wisconsin.
"When she saw the toy snowmobile, ooh, she said, 'Kelly my daddy has one, I'm going to give you the one.' I'm thinking it's gonna be a toy. When he pulled the tarp off, there was a real John Deere snow mobile," Hundley said.
It's not just John Deere. There is an entire room dedicated to other brands of farm equipment. Hundley said he has no idea how many toys are on display. It's likely at least a couple of thousand.
"I tell people when they ask how many I have, I tell them 1,837. And that number is, I just used it because that's when John Deere and that of the plow," Hundley said.
Hundley built a 50-by-30-foot building to get the toys out of his house. That has been expanded a couple of times. Visitors and tour buses are welcome.
"We enjoy having them over, we have a little chicken sausage gumbo for them, I give them my talk about rice, crawfish, the toy collection, and then we have a little crawfish boil for them," Hundley said.
After almost three decades of buying toys, the collecting is slowing down.
"I am not buying like I used to," Hundley said. "I was bad at one time, oh, I tell you, I had the fever bad."
But if Hundley sees something in a John Deere store that he doesn't have, he admits he can't resist getting it. And that just means there will be more to see here, since Kelly Hundley loves to share his toy tractor collection and stories about life on the farm.