Uncommon Horse Sense

Joseph Barto holds two versions of a horse manure shovel that he invented. The one at right has a motor that vibrates the device, allowing the user to sift the fecal matter from straw or sawdust without shaking the handle. 2007 file photo

For Joseph Berto, it all came down to long hours spent shoveling horse manure from the stalls at his Firefly Ranch west of Eagle Point.

A helicopter pilot by profession when he isn't thinking of ways to improve daily life, Berto figured spending countless hours to remove meadow muffins from the wood-shaving bedding was a waste of time.

"I hate spending so much time cleaning stalls," he said in a 2007 interview. "It's something that has to be done, but I figured there had to be a better way."

So he went out to his shop and worked for two months, eventually coming up with his patented self-cleaning electric manure fork called the Berto Shake'n Fork, powered by rechargeable batteries. He also developed a nonmotorized version in which the tines are on a hinge. A shake of the shovel causes the tines to quiver, prompting the shavings to sift through, leaving the road apples.

Berto says the fork saves not only time, but also money because he doesn't have to replace the shavings as often. The horse manure is used to fertilize hay fields on the ranch.

Last month, he caught the attention of infomercial king A.J. Khubani during an "American Idol-like" conference for inventions in Los Angeles. Berto, who told the judges he also has a smaller version for cat boxes, was invited to meet with them again.

For more information on Berto's manure forks, check out www.shakenfork.com.

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