CULTIVATING IDEAS: Enterprise’s Boyd Makes A Big Idea Out Of An Ant Hill
A “bad hop” inspired one idea; “laziness” inspired another.But no matter what the motivation — or the innovation — Ray Boyd of Enterprise is a “tinkerer” who enjoys putting his ideas into action.That’s why Boyd, 49, will be heading to San Antonio on Jan. 11-12 as he competes in the annual Farmer Idea Exchange contest at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 90th annual convention.Boyd’s Ant Bait Applicator is among 15 ideas or innovations from across the country chosen to compete in the AFBF-sponsored contest which is designed to surface inventions, equipment modifications, innovative crops, marketing techniques, management systems and farming practices developed by farmers and ranchers.The winners selected receive up to $1,500 toward expenses incurred to participate in the AFBF showcase. At the 2008 annual meeting, an Arkansas farmer took the grand prize with a double-bale spike which allows tractor drivers to haul three round bales of hay, instead of the usual two, at the same time.”This Ant Bait Applicator is one of those ideas that you carry around in your mind four or five years before you say, ‘Doggone it, somebody else is going to do that!’ So, I quit procrastinating and went to work on it,” said Boyd, who ended 30 years of farming last fall when he sold off the last of his cattle.The Ant Bait Applicator is a Plexiglas hopper which attaches to a zero-turn-radius riding mower and is filled with a pound of granular ant bait, allowing the operator to treat fire ant mounds as they are encountered while cutting.”I’ve got a pretty big yard, and this idea came from the fact that I’m too lazy to walk around the yard trying to apply ant bait at all the mounds,” he said. “This way, I don’t have to make as many trips around the yard.”Fire ants, Boyd said, are a common problem for farmers in the South who’ve seen the pesky insects clog equipment, attack newborn calves and turn lawns into a potentially perilous playground.”We’ll never be through with fire ants. We’ll have to deal with them from now on,” said Boyd. “But my applicator helps control them. Broadcasting ant poison around the yard isn’t good because, No. 1, it kills your beneficial insects, and you don’t want your kids playing in it. But having this applicator on the mower, it’s so easy — you just dispense it when you want by using your left foot — you don’t even realize that you’re doing two things at once.”Actually, the Ant Bait Applicator isn’t the first time Boyd has put on his thinking cap — he’s also the inventor of the Catcher Protector, a molded seat that fits on a five-gallon bucket and protects dads who are catching during pitching or batting practice.”When my daughter was a softball pitcher, I’d sit on a five-gallon bucket to catch her pitches,” Boyd explained. “Well, one day, the ball took a ‘bad hop.’ So, I came up with a seat that you could put on a five-gallon bucket and it would protect the groin area. It’s real comfortable. I fashioned it off an old-time tractor seat. All of us farmers know how good a tractor seat sits.”The Catcher Protector, available at www.catcherprotector.com, is carried by about 20 stores and retails for $29.
Getting that idea into stores was good experience, but Boyd says a tinkerer’s work is never done. There’s always a better mousetrap waiting.”I don’t have a clue as to what my chances are (at the AFBF meeting),” he says. “I’ll just be happy to be there and get some feedback. I may get some good ideas on some improvements I can make to my design.”