My best friend/ pal/ bosom buddy/brother, Ralph King, has never seen a new invention that he didn’t want to take for a test drive nor heard of some new, innovative — no matter how off the wall — idea that didn’t make perfect sense to him. Points East
I mostly tag along for the sheer entertainment value that is invariably a consequence of Ralph’s newest discovery. Over the winter he has led me to numerous websites that detail the latest thing in asparagus pickers, vegetable cultivators, roto-tillers, sprayers, mowers, balers, pumps and any number of other devices that will run off a tractor’s power take off (PTO). If it is mechanically complex and can be hooked to the back of a tractor, Ralph wants one.
Ralph’s old yellow Ford tractor/ endloader, better known as Old Yeller, and which Ralph has owned since Heck was a pup, is finally costing more in upkeep than payments would be on a new tractor. Which, of course, justifies the spending of many hours searching for a machine that will do everything but his laundry and do them in ways that have not been tried within 500 miles of Berea.
He is equally fascinated by simple hand tools, especially things that can be used to dig or cut. If it’s a new and different hoe, spade, garden trowel or pocketknife, Ralph will be the first kid on the block to own one. And if he doesn’t own it, he is in the process of building it from scratch.
He has, for example, worried over the fact that a pair of Canada Geese nest beside his pond every year but rarely, if ever, manage to hatch a brood because four-legged critters steal the eggs or snapping turtles catch the baby goslings as soon as they hit the water.
I laughed at the idea when Ralph constructed a 5’x5’ wooden box some 24 inches deep, mounted it on flotation devices, filled it with straw, and anchored it out in the middle of his pond so that the geese would have a place to nest that would be out of reach of foxes, coyotes, raccoons, weasels and the like. I didn’t figure that any self-respecting goose would go near the contraption but I was wrong.
We don’t know how many eggs she is setting on, but Mrs. Goose is now on the nest pretty much 24/7 except for stolen moments when she flies over to the bank at the urging of Mr. Goose to fill her craw with cracked corn that Ralph has dutifully spread about.
In the meantime, Ralph has shopped for elaborate turtle traps and found one that he can build himself. Said trap involves much six-inch PVC pipe, chicken wire, netting and flotation devices that will enable the capture of the turtles so that they can be hauled some miles away and released on a pond where nobody is trying to assure the survival of goslings. I have offered to take my .22 rifle over, take a rest off the banister of his back porch and shoot the heads off every turtle that pops its head above the surface. But Ralph is worried that shooting will scare the geese.
But rest assured that the most complicated, mind-boggling turtle trap in central Kentucky will be in operation before the geese hatch and I will cover all bets that it will work. In fact, I can’t wait to see Ralph trying to take a ticked-off, 12- pound snapper out of the trap, but I fully trust that he will construct a long-handled turtle snatcher involving steel pipe, ropes and pulleys that will enable him to do just that.
I will watch and learn and take many pictures over the next few weeks. Suffice to say that life around my buddy, Ralph, is never boring and I wish I were a patent attorney.