TROY TWP. - Henry and Dorothy Abma should feel safe.
After all, they have Captain America standing guard over their farm in Troy Township.
OK, this may not be the real Captain America, but he's pretty impressive.
At nearly 15 feet tall, the Captain America at the Abma farm on Pisgah Road is made entirely of hay bales - and eight cans of spray paint.
The other day, I received a phone call from Henry, who left me a message about his latest hay bale creation. Every year, I've taken a photo of his organic works of art. He starts putting them together in late August at his farm.
There's a new one each year.
Last year, though, there wasn't one. With all the rain last September, conditions were just too wet for one of Henry's characters to come to life.
Over the past 20-plus years, there's been plenty of hay bale characters at the Abma farm: Spiderman, Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox, Thomas the Train, and The Old Woman in the Shoe, to name a few. Henry also had a Humpty Dumpty made of hay bales, and just like the nursery rhyme, this one had a great fall. It was up to Henry and Dorothy to put him back together again. And they did.
But this year, it's all about Captain America.
"I thought, 'we'll put a Batman up,' but my grandson said, 'no, Captain America,'" Dorothy recalled.
She wasn't familiar with the comic book character, but she said all the kids are crazy about him. The character of Captain America appeared in a movie this summer, "The Avengers." It made a lot of hay at the box office.
So, a couple of weekends ago, Henry; his son, Shawn, an agriculture teacher in Gettysburg; and grandson, Malachi, 9, rolled up their sleeves and made Captain America out of four round hay bales and four square hay bales. They even made the superhero's shield and put little wings on his head, just like in the comic books.
Henry said he followed an illustration in a children's book to guide him in creating his Captain America hay bale creation.
Dorothy noted that people have really taken notice of their creation, especially kids.
She recalled how one man lifted a little boy over the fence, and how the little boy ran over to Captain America to have his picture taken. Then, he ran back.
"It was really cute," Dorothy said.
This year, Henry also has ten of his Farmall tractors parked in a row beside Captain America.
Dorothy said her husband keeps making the creations so people can enjoy them.
"He wants the kids to smile."
Dorothy noted that Henry started making the hay bale creations after they saw some in farm and ranch magazines.
One year, they even got into a little political commentary when all the government bail outs were taking place.
Henry put out a hay bale with the message that he had his "bale out."
Dorothy said it was popular, and a photo of Henry's "bale out" appeared in numerous newspapers.
In addition, they took a photo of their Paul Bunyan hay bale creation and sent it to Bemidji, Minn., where there is a Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statue.
The creations are a source of joy for the Abmas.
"We have fun doing it," Dorothy said. "It's fun to watch people come in. I think it's nice for the area."
So, stop by the Abma farm and say "hey."
Or is it "hay?"
Do you have an idea for the Western Bradford Notebook? You can reach Eric Hrin at (570) 297-5251; email: firstname.lastname@example.org