How would you like to live next door to a junk yard? Most people wouldn't select that for a choice location. But that's where we live, and it's the most interesting junk yard you could imagine.
All junk yards have a name and the sign on this one says, "Ruth's Junk Yard." Ruth created it, and it's filled with the things that are a big part of her and her husband Rick's life — turkeys, moose, bear, deer, hunters holding guns, ducks and pheasants; also peacocks, chickens, dogs and some flowers.
Ruth and Rick French live in Phillipston. Both are hunters. The objects in her junk yard display the hunting they enjoy, but they do not tell about the major outreach they have made to the hunting community and their service to conservation. Volunteerism to protect the environment and make hunting a safe sport are a big part of their lives.
For almost 20 years, Ruth and Rick have taught hunter education classes to hundreds of people in many communities. Knowing the hunting laws and gun safety procedures are extremely important to respect and follow. Their classes teach animal habits and stress respect for the environment.
In addition to the adult education classes, they have taught a youth turkey hunt course to 12- to 17-year-olds. And on the Saturday before the regular turkey season opens, they take them hunting. One of the youths who took the class — now an adult hunter — spoke about the excellent experience it was.
It is impressive to see the respect hunters have for nature and how the hunting seasons are designed to keep a good balance of the natural world. Our ancestors depended on hunting for sustenance and that maintained balance. Just imagine if we had too many bears or moose or deer. We'd certainly have more highway accidents and a bigger tick problem than we already have.
And, importantly for the hunter, they are participating in a sport that's good for their health — being outdoors, walking, breathing fresh air and appreciating nature. Activities that benefit everyone.
Furthermore, the money brought in from hunting licenses is used for conservation. Turkeys wouldn't have made a comeback without that effort. Money is also used to buy land, so that animals will have good habitats. The conservation areas for the animals give people places for hiking and enjoying the natural world. It also prevents over-development.
Ruth and Rick French have received awards for their volunteer outreach to the sporting community. They received the State Conservation Award for service to youth and conservation; the Massachusetts Environmental Police Officers Association Award for their many years of volunteer service; and the Youth Mentor Award, presented by the Worcester County League of Sportsmen's Clubs Award, for outstanding work with youth, the hunter education program and all they do for the sporting community.
It's important during this time of gun problems to bring awareness of the importance of hunting and the preparation that a hunter must have. It's wonderful to have people like Ruth and Rick French, who reach out to bring safety and respect to the hunting sport.
Ruth's junk yard also has chickens and peacocks and dogs to show the love of the animals on their farm, and the scattering of flowers throughout makes it a junk yard of beauty as well as meaning. There's a lot to contemplate when one looks at her junk. It's a junk yard anyone would be proud to live next door to.
Carole Gariepy is a Phillipston resident and author of “Dragging Gerry around the World” and “Why Go There?”
This article originally appeared on Gardner News: Ruth's Junk Yard in Philipston demonstrates her love for hunting