We begin this column with an apology to anyone whose toes get tromped. With that, we state this premise: Anyone who collects items and displays them in some pleasant manner for others to enjoy is an authentic collector. Anyone who collects items and stores them away in a barn loft, attic or unused hog barn, or who piles them around the edges of his scrap iron pile, is a pack rat, pure and simple. If you're looking to make a change in your style, here are a few suggestions to assist the pack rat make the transition into the "collector" category.
Plow disc as a mounting base. Buy used and worn plow discs on which walking plows, garden plows, walking cultivators, planters, discs, potato diggers and other similar tools may be mounted by welding. This keeps the tool upright, in the working position, and protects the paint and handles. It also provides a smooth base where you can use a weed trimmer to clean away growth. The disc will look great painted dark green.
Livestock panels covered in tools make a decorative fence. Metal livestock panels, matching if possible and sometimes available at farm auctions, make a great mount for tools, small parts, broken tools, what-is-its and groups of related pieces, like wagon parts. Mint or good items should be kept protected elsewhere. Panels are a good place for not-all-there collectibles.
Use natural areas to display items around picnic or camping sites. Many farms and ranches have picnic and patio areas, open yards or camping sites which make a great place to display both of the items discussed above. If you have rocks, timber or rough terrain adjacent to these areas, they make a great mounting base for old tools.
Be aware in all display efforts. Remove or blunt sharp points, edges and jagged projections. You all know how grandchildren can run and play. Split garden hose, duct tape, tennis balls, a glob of hot glue and other protective coverings will prevent accidents. Better to be safe than sorry.
I stand with hat in hand, a convicted and converted pack rat, testifying to you that displaying your pack rat collection will be worth the effort and expense. It's almost as much fun as collecting the stuff, and can improve the harmony in your marriage! FC
Delbert Trew is a freelance writer, retired rancher and supervisor of the Devil's Rope Museum in McLean, Texas. His wife, Ruth, collects antique dolls, is secretary/treasurer of the Devil's Rope Museum and the Old Route 66 Association of Texas, and, according to Delbert, "Queen Mother of the local Red Hat club." The two share authorship of this column, and Ruth is the able photographer. Contact them at Trew Ranch, Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002; (806) 779-3164; email: firstname.lastname@example.org