I am a do it yourselfer who usually winds up wishing he hadn’t done it himself. To say I am bad at building things is to slight people who are bad at building things. I am atrocious at building things. Maybe even horrendous.
Take the turtle trap, for instance.
My pond is the Sodom and Gomorrah for turtles. They descend on it during the warm months and spend much of their waking hours engaging in acts of depravity right out in the open. “Hey! There’s baby ducks and goslings around!” I holler at them, but nothing short of a Biblical scourge is going to deter them.
The pond gets absolutely polluted with turtles all of who eat my fish. Reprobates though they may be, I can’t bring myself to kill them. What I didn’t know is the turtle traps they sell on the internet are all lined with gold. Or, at least, I assumed they were based on their price.
“No problem,” I told my son, Matt, an equally bad builder who usually helps me with projects around our farm. “We’ll build a turtle trap.”
“Are you sure, Dad,” he said, his face a mask of concern. “I have a ski mask and a pistol. I could knock over a few convenience stores to get the money.”
“Thanks, but no,” I told him. “We’ll build it.”
We made it out of wood, some fence sections we had lying around the farm and dock floats we bought for seven dollars apiece. It was basically a big, floating basket with a wooden plank (sort of like a bridge) over the top. The idea was for a turtle to climb up on the plank to sun himself. When he dove back in the water he would actually dive into the bucket. There he would remain until we came and fetched him.
Our turtle trap looked identical to the professionally built turtle traps we saw on the internet with the exception ours was made mostly out of wood rather than steel and it looked like it had barely survived a warehouse explosion. Porcupines didn’t have as many sharp, pointy things sticking out of them as our turtle trap, what with the wires and fence points and all. It gouged the hide of our arms, legs and hands every time we came near it. After we toted it to the pond, the casual observer would have thought we’d been mauled by a bear.
Much to our shock, not only did the turtle trap float, but it actually caught turtles. We thought the turtles would stay away from it, but the turtles did not fear it at all. All we could figure is no turtle would look at that thing and think it was a turtle trap.
Thus, encouraged, I took on several other building projects, all of which had roughly the same results.
“It barely survived a warehouse explosion,” I explained to a friend as he stared at my chicken coop. It didn’t help matters that the chickens were gathered around him staring at it too with the same stupid look on their faces.
“Did I mention the warehouse explosion,” I explained as another friend regarded my goat shed. I stamped my foot at all the goats gathered around it. “Git! Go stare at something else!”
I got the idea for the floating duck house as a way of keeping our ducks away from predators. My thinking was the safest place for them to sleep was in the middle of the pond away from the four-legged critters. The house would protect them from the winged menaces. Plus, they may start laying their eggs there.
When I told Matt my plans, he did a remarkable job of hiding his enthusiasm. “Seriously, Dad. I know floating houses are lined with gold” he said. “, but three or four convenience stores and we could buy one off the internet.”
For the actual part that floats, we fashioned a big rectangle out of six-inch PVC pipes and elbow joints. We fastened some square poles across the rectangle at about six-inch intervals. We have a bunch of old barn siding, wood fencing and the like around the place. We scavenged what we could and screwed the planks on the wooden poles for a floor. I had an old store-bought chicken coop lying around, too. We fixed it to the floor. We even added a deck of sorts.
“What do you want to name it,” I asked Matt when we were done.
“The Titanic,” he said.
We hauled our floating duck house down to the pond and set it adrift. Against all odds, it floated, which surprised us nearly as much as when the turtle trap floated. Matt took a picture to commemorate the moment.
It was still floating the next morning. We assumed it would take the ducks a while to get used to it, but a bunch of them were already gathered around it quacking for all they were worth. Two intrepid souls actually waddled into the house and sat for a spell then left.
So far, that’s been about all the interest they’ve shown.
I showed Matt’s picture to some friends at work.
“It might look like a duck house,” said my friend, Ben, who is a good builder of things wooden, “but, I think it is a submarine.”
He predicts that it is not a matter of if, but when, the Titanic sinks.
Lucky for them, ducks float, too.
I included a picture of our floating duck house with this article so you can see it for yourself. Please keep in mind it looked a lot better before the warehouse explosion.