Happke offers plants, parts and museum in Pierz
By Carol Stender
Date Modified: 04/19/2013 3:12 PM
PIERZ, Minn. — There's more to Kevin Happke's Rolling Hills Greenhouse than plants.
From his business location on Main Street, Happke also sells parts for older tractors and implements and displays historical items on display. The diversity prompted him to rename it Rolling Hills Greenhouse, Implement and Museum.
He's always been a collector. He started with toys and toy tractors and added McCormick-Deering horse-drawn equipment. As he purchased threshing machines, potato seeders and tractors, he began a parts inventory.
His collection expanded in 2008 when he acquired inventory from a closed South Dakota International Harvestor dealership. He purchased four trailer loads of parts, some from 1945, and invoices and parts books.
The invoices reflect the times. In 1952, a customer purchased a Super M tractor for $2,218. A Farmall 300 was sold for $2,343. An International refrigerator sold in 1952 for $269.97.
Behind his business counter, shelves are filled similar. Above the counter, he has cut-out letters spelling "parts" and "service" with the name "International Harvestor."
He often purchases items for his collection from E-bay. He has old farm catalogs from 1920 and a price list from 1924. He's collected several sales brochures for equipment like the Minneapolis Moline threshing machine.
Local auctions have been a good source.
In his greenhouse buildings sales area, Happke displays numerous historical items. He constructed one room for a blacksmith shop display. There are two pump organs, wringer washers, toy tractors and a horse-drawn seeder that allowed farmers to plant wheat between corn rows.
A hip-roofed building across the street stores more. Part of the building is used to store parts yet to be inventoried and large machinery. Another display area contains household items.
The second floor is a paradise for farm displays. Happke and his brothers created scenes using toy tractors and implements. Some of the buildings, like a metal Ertl barn, were made by toy companies. Others they constructed themselves. The Harvestore silos in one display are actual samples given by sales representatives years ago.
Plastic trees provide shelterbelts between the scenes. Popcorn was used to fill grain boxes that seem ready to unload next to the toy auger. The top of the auger is poised over the miniature grain bin.
Toy tractors are poised to pull machinery and fences hold back plastic livestock.
The displays represent the farm scenes familiar to the brothers who grew up on a dairy farm near Pierz.
A nearby display has a railroad that traverses through the countryside.
He has egg incubators, several milk separators and cameras.
The town also gave him items from its closed museum.
He enjoys showing his collection, but asks visitors to first make an appointment. For more information and to schedule a tour of the museum, contact Happke at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (320) 468-6474.