Local News

Wildlife carvings an attraction

On East 6th Street in Davenport, right about where the town meets the country, Leon and Connie Siefert’s yard has become an attraction. 

Leon, who joined Connie in Davenport in 2015 after retiring — she moved to Davenport in 2013 and he worked in Kansas — didn’t plan it that way.

“I hated to cut them down. It seemed like a waste,” Leon said about his disease-ridden trees. “I hate to waste a tree.” 

Leon, who has several hobbies, always wanted carvings. 

“I like stuff I can’t do,” he chuckled while standing near the carved eagles that flank the west side of his driveway. Leon has had carver, Jim Polanek out of Missouri at his home twice. 

“He had it down and brought three or four chain saws. The big eagles were $500 to $600. He made those and brought them to me.” 

Leon points to one of his outbuildings, where small bears climb up the poles above more bears and a watchful owl sits inside. 

“Bears were his specialty. It took him an hour or less to carve them. Here are two bears, their eyes are the best,” Leon said about Polanek, who has since retired. 

Polanek traveled through Nebraska and neighboring states to carve. For Leon and Connie, all types of wildlife were etched into sawed-off trees.  

“At first, we didn’t know what we wanted,” Leon said. On the east side of his driveway, a blue heron, cardinal and duck were sculpted. 

“I have three or four people who want carvings. You’d be surprised at how many people stop and want pictures. I say, ‘Heck yes,’” Leon said.

Leon is on the hunt for another wood carver. He is thinking of adding a panther to his collection. 

The trees aren’t the only attraction in the Sieferts’ yard. A colorful metal life-sized chicken next to the flagpole continues to draw kids. 

“The Shickley kids will stop once a year and run up to take pictures. They like it,” Leon said. 

The chicken was a gift to Connie after she returned home from her sister’s funeral in Minnesota. 

“I didn’t know if she’d like it. She just loves it,” Leon said.

Leon and Connie originally moved to Davenport to be closer to their daughter, Emily Siefert, who is the band director for Thayer Central.

“We like it here 110 percent. The people are real friendly. They’re just happy,” Leon said.