HTF - Look Back So Far

HTF - Look Back So Far

From a toy store, to a medical breakthrough brought to us by a turnip, we've seen a lot so far this year in "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer."

We met Tim Renken, in February.

Ten years ago if you would've asked me which piece of equipment on our place generated the most money, or that we made our living off of, I never would have told you it would've been our computer," said Renken.

A little more than three years ago he was farming, but landlords sold the land, so he had to find another way to make a living.

"We started buying tractors and equipment and then fixing it up to resell it," said Renken.

Success came selling that stuff online, so out of that Renken Auctions was born.

He says he has sold 917 items in 2016 alone, and had millions of hits on the site, too.

In fact, some of the machinery he's listed for sale on his site have actually ended up all around the world.

"(I) Had a grain trailer go to Honduras, we just sold a truck this last Wednesday that's going to Africa," said Tim.

Then we heard the sounds of success with Steve Bierman.

He designs equipment to help change those huge tires on agricultural equipment.

Steve says he got the idea after buying a new tractor more than a decade ago.

"It had 46 inch rubber," said Bierman. "So I tried it once by myself and it's too dangerous."

That's how the first model of his "EZ Dual Changer" was born.

It didn't take long for his neighbors to get interested.

"Then I made a few more, took'em to a farm show and I sold'em all," said Bierman. "It's the safest thing I've ever done."

Now, eight years later, he can stand in the midst of his inventions, because the rest, as they say, is history.

"I've sold thousands of them since," said Bierman.

We saw some of the coolest things come in small packages at the Le Mars Toy Store.

"I'm kind of like the late Carroll Shelby," said Albert Schulz.

Schulz's hot rods are a little smaller than the Mustangs Shelby modified, though.

With a team of seven fabricators from around the country, he modifies off-the-shelf farm toys.

"Remotes, bigger tires, wheel weights, everything else looks like the real loader-tractor, doesn't it?" said Schulz, holding up one of the creations in his shop.

He and his team make these tiny toys look more like the real thing.

"Probably got 10 hours in it," said Schulz.

He says it's what people were asking for.

"People that wanted a lot more detail, something they can't find that looks more like a real tractor," said Schulz. "We started to build custom toys."

And in March we found out how a local turnip could be a game-changer.

Dr. Paul Weber and Dr. Daniel Jung are studying the prairie turnip.

Right now, the turnip is being tested against staphylococcus aureus, which causes staph infection.

So far, the results are promising.

"Fewer dots, that means there's fewer bacteria," said Dr. Jung, pointing out the results of the experiments.

The research is promising, so far the turnips are stopping the staph.

But, years of research could be needed yet.

"We need to do all these baby steps to get to some kind of medical advances later," said Dr. Jung.

The advances could be things like creams that could help burn victims.

For now, though, the students who are helping out are happy to get real-world experiment experience and be a part of what could be a medical breakthrough.

If you think of a farmer that might be great on "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer," please email Jake at:

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off