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Landsend Farm, Part 1 of 8: Overview

The idea behind Landsend Farm was to depict something of a classic Northeastern farm—if there is such a thing (it exists in my mind's eye, if nowhere else). As for its potentially awkward proximity to the gorge, this actually reflects a place I'd visited many years ago. While driving through seemingly endless, nearly flat farmland, I was startled to suddenly come upon a rugged rocky gorge, complete with waterfall, behind a band of trees.

By the time I began work on this project, there were enough Z scale barn and house kits available that I didn't have to worry about taking the time to scratchbuild anything except perhaps some of the detail elements. Indeed, there's a veritable cornucopia of farm paraphernalia available these days. Consider: GCLaser, Baz Models, Nansen Street Models, Miller Engineering and Mountaineer Precision Products all make barn kits (although MPP has dropped their Z scale line). For houses, there's GCLaser, Nansen Street, Animek and Fannocreek.

Details are relatively plentiful as well. There are two sources of silos, GCLaser and Nansen Street; two makers of windmill kits, Nansen Street and 3RWorks; and two types of etched metal corn, Micron Art (includes a corn crib) and miniTec; plus fencing galore from Baz, GCLaser, Miller Engineering, 1zu220-Modelle and others; GCLaser even makes a doghouse. Preiser and Merten (much improved quality these days) provide plenty of farm animals. But, unfortunately there's not much in the way of farm equipment. Nansen Street has a crude metal tractor and hay wagon; MZZ has a few gorgeous tractors that are also European and expensive; MakeMyModel makes a barely-adequate pickup; Micron Art produces a number of Model T vehicles that, with some effort, could be adapted for farm duty (assuming an earlier modeling era); and 1zu220-Modelle and RSLaserkit offer horse-drawn carts. But nowhere can one find essentials such as plows, thrashers and other items readily available in N scale.

In the end, I went with GCLaser barn kit #54283 and farmhouse kit #5346. Aesthetically they were the closest to my target, although they're larger than I'd have preferred (the barn is bigger than the theater, and the house is larger than the hotel). I made my choices just prior to starting the scenery, so that I could design the terrain around the farm. Good thing, too, as the farm was going to need much more real estate than originally planned: not only did I end up with larger structures than I'd had in mind, but I also had a head filled to overflowing with detailing ideas. For example...

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This is the "blank slate" upon which Landsend Farm will be developed.

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The plan is sketched out in pencil on the access panel base.

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After installing foundations for the main buildings, terrain is added.

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As the buildings are completed, the placement of details is worked out.

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Some details, such as the fence, require careful planning.

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Although detailing can continue for a long time, the farm is essentially done.

  • outbuildings—tractor shed, chicken coop, dog house, etc.
  • driveway with bridge over Auger Creek
  • family cemetery with stone fence
  • hedgerow with small stream
  • planted field
  • pond

And that's just off the top of my head; as the project progresses, I imagine that I'll come up with many more items I'll want to cram into the space—although I could foresee having five pounds of farm stuff to fit in a three-pound plot of land. At least some of the detail items I'd like to add won't take up much space—for instance, an ancient, rusted Model T sitting in the weeds; a trough for the cows; and a swing in a tree, just to name a few.

Some of the outbuildings were already taken care of, more or less. Either the Micro-Trains lineside tool shed or RSLaserKits Paul's Repair might be a good candidate to convert into a tractor shed, and—in perhaps the strangest transmutation—the RSLaserKit Bunkhouse might become a chicken coop. But I may have to scratchbuild my own silo, though—GCLaser's is too big, and Nansen Street's one-piece casting is a bit crude.

Alas, as I got down to the task at hand, I quickly saw a few of my ideas melt away. There was certainly not going be enough room for a hedgerow, much less one with a small stream; as it was, there'd be just enough room for a token fringe of planted field. The silo might have to go, although I might still be able to work in a corn crib.

As one might be able to tell, there was much cogitation involved in this project; the better part of a day was spent just scribbling on the access panel with a pencil. One challenge was placing the structures such that the most interesting parts faced the viewer, but without violating their logical arrangement. And, in the process of designing the area, I noticed that some old habits are hard to break: I kept drawing N scale width roads!

Well, enough yacking—let's get cracking...

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