It was the 4th of July in 2012 which marked the birthday and military deployment homecoming of Mike Onchuck’s cousin, Andy, which prompted him and his relatives to make a “Welcome Home, Andy!” greeting with three bales of hay, three red, white, & blue stars, two American flags, and a banner. Little did Mike know that his first encounter with “hay art” would not be his last.
His next creation came one year later. This time he used six bales of hay, plus the flags and the stars he had kept from the year prior’s hay art. Getting praise from neighbors, the Onchuck family realized the hay art was a success at making people feel cheerful. His mom, Kathi, saw a smiley face made out of hay, and she asked Mike if he could create something similar. He decided that he could do something like that. Since it was the Winter of 2015, he decided to create a happy-faced snowman.
By this time, more than the neighbors were taking notice and showing appreciation. “We definitely have a lot of people make it known that they really like them. People leave notes that they enjoy them, and it’s things like that which make you want to do them again,” Mike said.
With spring arriving in 2016, the snowman needed to...melt. “Since it would be simple enough to make some bunny ears and a face, I decided to turn the snowman into a bunny for Easter. I thought that one was the cutest of them all,” Mike shared.
Given Mike was on such a roll with making hay art, two of his uncles joked that he needed to make a firecracker for the 4th of July in 2016, and Mike did just that. He was motivated throughout his various hay designs knowing that his nephews (and now his new niece) would enjoy seeing them.
Posting each design on his personal Facebook page, friends started to notice and send him a few ideas. In October, one friend shared with him a teddy bear made of hay, asking “Your next project?,” to which Mike replied he would make it if he had the time. When another friend sent him the same picture, somehow he found the time for this Valentine’s Day, and he created the teddy bear in January. “I plan to make a big, red heart and put it on its chest just to give it a little color,” he mentioned.
On the first few days of the teddy bear’s existence, it seemed the deer were a bit scared of it and they stayed away. Unfortunately, after a few days, they got used to it and have started feasting on its hay paw given this hay creature is not wrapped in plastic. Even though Mike used very strong, long nails to attach the art to the feet, the deer are finding a way to do a bit of damage, actually pulling one nail completely out and eating some of the hay.
While it is unknown how long it will take for the deer to create total destruction, Mike said it took him about fifteen minutes to put the hay together for the teddy bear. “Making all the pieces, like the paws, ears, nose, etc., that took several hours,” Mike shared, but he made sure to give credit to his mom, Kathi, who does most of the artwork as she is really good with painting all the craft pieces and often helps with the creative element.
Doing a rough build of all the pieces in his yard helps to make sure it will all go together nicely and easily when he places it out near the road where people can drive by and enjoy it. If you would like to view the Onchuck hay art designs, you can travel down Flemings Rapids Road in Phillips and enjoy the current work of art.
Mike said that since the teddy bear was shared on My Price County, he did notice increased traffic last weekend. “It got around in a hurry; word travels fast.”
While he doesn’t have any immediate plans for the next hay art project, Mike doesn’t plan to retire from it just yet. “I think at some point we’ll do something again. When we see an idea we like, we’ll do it.”
Shown in the photos are Mike (twice) and his sister, Pamela Onchuck, along with their two nephews, Jaxson and Jarrett. Photos provided by Mike Onchuck.
[Edited by My Price County Administrator on Feb 06, 2017 at 09:16 PM]