Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Some of the Beet Harvest Details... For The Answers Inquring Minds Want to Know...

#1... Would she do it again? I think she would. It just isn't that physical a job. The bigger task is the waiting between trucks. Once you're geared up properly to stay warm and dry... the rest of the ground crew work is pretty easy... actually, the Tare Lab job was the far more demanding of the two...

Now... as for that other... #2... Sitting on my kiester in a warm dry bobcat cab... yeah.... not so much. ;)

First, the night crew blew the door out of the bobcat assigned to me, the first night. So much for warm and dry bobcat cabs.

Second, the ground crew has breaks, lunch hours, and all that time waiting between trucks to kick back and visit...

The bobcat guys, two of 'em, have five pilers to keep cleared out, power cords to move and rebuild crossovers... and ventilation pipe to ferry from several hundred yards away while running a gauntlet of beet haulers that seem blind to the existence of any other machinery in the vicinity...

Soooo... breaks become eating your lunch as you walk to and from the port-a-potti ... quickly ;)

... now... add in a beet piler that's operating more like an automatic potato gun... whacking you in the head and chest with BEETs... (because that door is missing) every time you duck in under the boom to clean up the mess it's making... and the "Romance" of a warm dry Bobcat cab kinda goes away in a rushin' hurry! as well as a thumping UMPHHHHHH!

*view inside a warm, dry Bobcat cab*

Yeah... they kinda get your attention when the things fall out of the sky... through the cab door that... AIN'T there!

Now, shine all THAT up with the mechanicing to repair the hydraulic hose fittings that get crushed by 25 foot pipes three feet in diameter when things don't "fall" according to plan... or the ones that spray a load of fluid in your face when one of those Beets gets trapped between the bucket and another fitting and SNAP! WHOOOOOOSHHHHHHH!...

Then put in there that keeping those control sticks pushed against the wall to keep the bobcat moving as you slam and bam (Bouncing on the Cab roof more than once) across the rutted ground of the beet yard scurrying to the next chore consumes quite a little more effort than you might think... and the "Ease" of sitting on my kiester is not quite so laid back easy as it might appear to the un-initiated. ;)

Yep... there's ups and downs to Beet Harvest

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Loading Again...

The new tires are on. 66,900 miles on the old set of Hankook tires. I could have squeezed out a full 70,000 and more if my ambition was sufficient. Not too shabby for a hard used, not diligently maintained set on a dually weighing out at 18,000 lbs gcvw with the rig on give or take.

When you consider the heavy duty four wheeling that was included in those miles, it's pretty amazing really.

I fully believe, had I taken better care of 'em, those tires rated for 50,000 would have gone 80,000 reliably. 

Kind of tells you the benefit of "upgrading" to the 10 ply rated tires don't it.

The electric issue has gone "dormant"... so what I can't find I can't fix... and I've got little interest in throwing what few dollars we've got at problems... hoping to hit the right part. Soooo... I guess that gets left alone until it decides to show it's face again.

I tried the suggestion of bringing a code up with the odometer routine... except the odometer I've got ain't the correct sort. I believe Mike means that black letter digital sort...and this'un here is the lil' green "neon light" kind... High tech mechanical terminology there you know?

But, the batteries are holding their voltage, so I just can't see replacing them when they still get the job done, and me not Knowing for sure and for certain that they're even where the problem lives.

Anyhoo... I'll put the bike back on the truck this afternoon and start getting ready to pull the fiver off of Northglenn's sidewalk and begin the trek south to Avondale.

Looks like Wednesday or so we'll fire up the Cummins and start moving on farther south.

Trinidad, Raton Pass, Santa Fe and then we'll have to start making a decision... on down to Soccorro and cut west again through Springerville and across the Mogollon?

or... West at Albuquerque to Flagstaff and then turn south to Avondale... keeping to the big road...  I kinda lean toward Soccoro... but only time can tell.

Movin' On

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Parked on the Sidewalk in Denver

I don't know what the neighbors think... when we roll through here 'bout once a year and the rig sits in the street in front of the kids house... with a wheel rolled up on the sidewalk to get it allllmost level. ;)  ... and Bad Cowboy that I am? I can't say that I'm really payin' any attention to that!

We escaped Sidney just as a fresh slew of rain came pourin' out of the sky that shut the last of their picking down for at least a whole day...

It's an easy run down those super slabs from there to here... even if a boring one. And boring to me, because - I just don't care for interstates. You pretty much have to roll too fast to do much if any lookin' around... it's just drone on mile after mile. I strongly prefer, in the rig, puttering along the two lane.

But... this time, with maintenance issues I needed to take care of, and few days to lose if there are problems... I bit the bullet and took the highway.

We pushed the 750 miles, give or take in two days of running... which is the farthest we've rolled in two days in a long long while.

Now... we find ourselves up against another time crunch using up a few days waiting. The tires I need for the truck aren't in stock... supposedly those Hankook tires are so good they're having trouble keeping up with demand. Considering the mileage we've gotten out of our first set of 'em (hard on 70,000 miles) on a hard used dually, totalling in excess of 18,000 lbs GCVW... I'd have to agree with the "GOOD" part.

They won't be in until Monday the 28th at the earliest... We have to be in Avondale the night of Saturday the 2nd... at the latest... that gives only five days to over the 900 miles or so to the track... so... it looks like a few more days of a bit more rapid transit comin' up.

I would have preferred to dawdle 'tween here and there... maybe up on the Mogollon... but I guess not this time. One more week of work (for somebody else) and then I'm cut loose to once again pursue my own plans... 

It'll be Rapid Transit for us anyway... considering our average move is only 175-225 miles or so... and then only one day of rolling between ten or fourteen in a camp. The trickiest day of this run is Likely to be that getting out of Denver and over Raton pass... and of course... there's weather in the offing next week to keep that interesting.

It's probable that pass crossing won't actually occur until day two. We often use either the Walmart in Trinidad or the State rest area just north of town, and then cross the pass the next morning. It seems I routinely run out of ambition on the south run... right about there.

Once this next job is done it'll be a laid back winter of word whittling and warming on the desert... and... replacing the now rapidly aging house battery bank. ;)

Oh yeah... that electrical issue has not reappeared... I'm coming to think it's a combination of possibly a misbehaving "Fuel pre-heat" system... and the short run's (less than two miles) we were making to the Factory Yard. I'm believing that the batteries were being drained by the heavy draw that was drawing for too long... and not nearly enough run time to recharge the lost amp hours in that short run twice a day. So... at this point I'm taking a wait and see attitude and maybe I'll deal with it later, down in the desert... if simply going back to longer "Normal" runs doesn't just eliminate the issue.

Waiting on Fresh Rubber

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

On The Road Again... Again

Our Beet Harvest sojourn is done and we are rolling south. Headed out yesterday morning, 'bout two hours earlier than I'd anticipated. I'm guessing I was itching to be moving south.

Apparently we got out just in time as the skies opened up and it started raining again just after we left. ;)

Felt good to have ten tires hummin' on asphalt again. Made the turn at Glendive and cooked her down I-94 toward Billings. Yeah... the blinding speed of sixty-two miles an hour! ;) The idea was to turn back south east there onto I-90 to make the run to I-25 and south.

My thinking was, with the skies clouded up, the rain leaking out, and the ability of Montana and Wyoming to turn that into a can't see-your-nose blizzard in the wink of an eye, that I'd stay on the Big Road considering the tattered condition of my tires, the Battery/electric issue... and my waning desire for athletic adventure at the moment.

I doubt we'll find much weather, but I'm short on time to git er done as they say. (if any murphy sort of escapades erupt) Since K-uhlamity is my middle name... I kinda plug that extra time into my "planning"...

Yeah well... ya'll know me and plans... hit the road that cuts off south toward Hardin... a ways west of Miles City... and there it was... 70 miles or shorter to Sheridan that way, than goin' all the way to Billings... even if it WAS 'cross the Res.

So... with a lil' bit of brain smokin' cogitation, I hooked a U... which actually took a few miles, since they don't put many exits along there, backtracked to the turn and went south to the Wally World Resort in Sheridan! :)

Dale and Jo were already in Bozeman according to FaceBook...

Jeff and Connie from the Harvest pulled in right beside us a couple of hours later... after blowing a turbo line just up the road a ways... and anxious as they are to get where they're goin'... they already pulled for home as I'm writing this.

North West, West and South... and a couple sets I know of running east into the snows around Bismarck and beyond...

Yep... the Beet Pickers are scattering to the winds.

We'll be rolling in the next half hour and headed for the Blue skies of the Colorado Front range...

The land of new tires, Leather for Journals... and Grandbabies.

It's good to be On the Road Again

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Montana Beet Harvest's Last Hurrah...

At least for us...

Though the Harvest is not tee total complete... some farmers feel the need to drag it out to the last possible moment with winter breathing down their necks... as things slow down the need for us here has worn out its welcome.

We pulled in to Sidney I believe on the 20th of September... now here it is... a month of Sugar Beet Piling later. Today is scheduled to be our last two shifts. First the Factory Beet Yard and then our last trip to the Tare Lab.

Tomorrow morning sometime, we should be hitched and rolling, bound for Colorado.

Our coffers, though already dented by Murphy (how is THAT no surprise) and that malicious eastern gang of parasitic scoundrels that pollute the earth... are in better condition than they were.

We'll take most of two days to make the 700 miles give or take to the front range where we'll lay up for a week or so, doing repairs, maintenance and family visitations. Then it's another two or three days to make the run to Avondale and another week's NASCAR work at PIR.

With that done I'm bound for some quiet, secluded, nobody-can-find-me spot on the Arizona Desert. It's my intention to immerse myself in fanciful characters and imaginary tribulations for the purpose of fleshing out a pair of outlines into two new completed books this winter.

... and... to be honest... run some considerable rubber off the tires of a big red motorcycle under the Arizona Sun.

Headin' South

P.S. Couple of winters back, sitting on Plomosa Road... I piled some stones together... Look at what I just found on Google Earth... from twenty thousand miles or so in space...

RVer Piled Stones in the Arizona Desert

You'll need to click on the pic to see it clear... and be able to read upside down... but SOMEBODY has took MY spot! ;)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Winding down... and Making Ready for the Road

Coming up on a month here now, and the job is winding down. Rain almost every night slowing things down.

We're down to two Pilers operating now from the five that started out. Dan and I keep working the Bobcats to deal with the mud so everybody else can continue to function. The rain though it's been coming almost every night for the past few, has slacked off light enough so though it keeps things impeded, we're catching up.

Rumor is we'll shut another Piler down in the next day or so... There seems to be a bit of hopeful rumoring on the part of the crew that is contended with by drivers that say they've got another whole week of hauling. ;)

I think for most, the long days are tallyin' up and their endurance is running low, at least mentally. It's a tough go if you've never really experienced this sort of routine before... and can be enlightening if you go in with the right attitude.

Most have never worked this sort of a job where you're in a constant sea of mud, noise, wind, rain, dust and fatigue. The folks are PGA Golfers, retired cops, contractors, chefs... you name it. They've come from lives that run across the board.

But me... I'm the only pussgut, ditch digging, blizzard bashing, cow chasing, leather carving, ignorant mountain cowboy in the bunch! so... this isn't much of a change for me. :)

I'm getting tired... but then... I've gotten re-tired nearly every day of my life. 

It's looking pretty strong that Monday or Tuesday I'll be turning my windshield south for the annual migration to our Arizona Desert Retreats...

Got our first payday deposited into the account the other day... and of course a call that day from the accountant... announcing the Feds... were requiring nearly HALF of that check to pay the extortion for 2012... yup... I'd just as soon have kept those worthless mudsuckers shut down... I'm betting I can do for myself... a whole lot cheaper, what they CLAIM to do... and SELDOM perform on.

Those that believe those D.C. parasites are doing ANY of us any good, I believe, are living in a wonderland of denial. Buuuut then, that is your right to believe how you choose.

The past several days, we've been dealing with a "new" burp in the truck... this time starting. The batteries have been going waaaay low... rode a couple circuits with Dale and Jo in their jeep when the Dodge couldn't get going... not sure totally where the "issue" lays.

It's an intermittent "Voltage" issue... and of course... the batteries are from costco... with the nearest one being Billings I believe... well... a careful use of a small borrowed battery charger got 'em fully juiced... and the alternator is cranking out the voltage... but it don't seem to last overnight... bad batteries? Which are less than 25% into their 100 month lifetime... or something else that made the batteries go bad?

No time here really to fiddle and diagnose the thing... and of course, it's in my mind that, we make some dollars and Physics says the costs have to swell up to consume those... right? :)

So... When we had a late start yesterday... I took the borrowed battery charger off and ran the truck to a local hardware store and secured a small charger to add to our load... On our roll south, I'll be able to fire up the generator to run the charger to get the truck going needs be... or the compressor to air up that iffy tire ;)

Making it to Denver, we'll be back into the country of America's Tire, Costcos and time to diagnose things I don't "Get" well... and where I can get the warranties with the companies that have done me good in the past! From there on south, with fresh rubber and the "Batteries?" warrantied... we'll be able to make a relaxed run to the races in Phoenix...

It all Depends on the Weather

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Beet Goes On...

Ha ha... yeah... but I couldn't resist that one... ;)

The other day... before it started raining... I'm sitting in my bobcat taking a short break (lunch on the run) when I look up and there's this little... about the size of a trash can... four motored helicopter looking DRONE hovering over the Piler... 

Duck and RUN! The NSA, the CIA, ATF, FBI, and probably even the PTA has done found me!... Watch out for the HellFire's! ...

Ha ha ha... Uh... Nope...

Wasn't till a couple of days later I found out the thing is owned by the computer tech for the Sugar Factory! and it was taking video!!! They must pay sugar beet computer techs pretty good to play with such toys! :)

The bottom line is... you can get an Up close and personal look at what we've been spending our days doing! We've only actually had one day of bad weather ON the job... all the rest have come in the night and kept us from going to work. :(

For a reference... the early part of the video is at another of the piling stations... we're at the station where it labels it the Factory Yard...starting around 4:27 into the film.

Our piler, #4, is the one with all the "Pipes" in the pile at about 4:44... those Pipes are the ventilation I've been working on setting.

At 4:48 you can see both Bobcats working in front of the piler... the one directly under the boom is yours truly! Be honest... Does that Bobcat make my butt look big?

at 5:00 the shadow of the Drone skims across the screen.

A bit later at 5:12 is a shot of ME sitting in the Bobcat taking a quick lunch.

At 5:18... be ready... you'll get a quick sighting of Heidi tween the truck and the piler as the Drone skims across...

At 5:23 the DRONE comes down over the Piler and... Look over the cab of my Pickup in the top right hand corner... and see me taking my break... and I just spotted the DRONE... I'm standing in the door of my Bobcat...Pointing and hollering BOGIE BOGIE BOGIE! Expecting a missile to come streaking out of the sky at the sacrilegious congress basher sitting in his Bobcat! :)

Kinda fun!... and then it started raining... Been off pretty much since Saturday... two short nights in the Tare Lab only which is up in the actual factory compound area...

Just had a meeting this morning. We signed on to hold on till at least Sunday and hope we get the work done or the lions share of it...

The extra bucks from holding out won't hurt... only that run south if it gets to me having to push hard through bad weather... it could get a lil' bit western...

Waiting Patiently to Pile More Beets

P.S. If any of ya should ever sign up to work this Beet Harvest? tell 'em Brian Gore sent ya! I get a headhunter Bonus if you hold out to the end! ;)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

You Can't Screech to a Halt... In the Mud...

More a slip slidin' along... until you stop moving...

Started raining 'bout midnite the night before last... and rained all day. Not Hard... just that constant, slow, soaking rain...

... just got the phone word that the "Beet Yard" is closed all weekend... It'll take that long for the fields to dry out enough for the farmers to get back to pulling beets.

It's not that they just need dry enough for the equipment to get through the fields, it's if they're too wet they compact. When you run equipment across wet fields, down deep the ground gets compacted hard as concrete. You won't know something is wrong until next year when you try to grow a crop... and little happens. The ground was compacted so hard the roots can't penetrate...

... so we wait...

There's only maybe five days of work left... if we can get to it. The weather man holds promise. Kind of hoping for wind today to help dry things up.

Then Monday morning we'll hit it hard and run for the finish. There are some piling stations that have been able to get in a few loads so the Tare Lab operated... a whole hour last night! Buuuuut... work an hour... get paid for four... can't grouse too hard.

I'm ready to roll south with our accounts a bit healthier than they were. It's some easier to go down the road knowing there's tire money in the bank if you shred one.

It's looking good for a few days with the kids in Denver... and doing some truck work while there... to get us south and through the winter...

Tires, and a growing starting issue... Batteries? A Mis-operating pre-heater? another alternator? something is intermittently taking amperage so I'll try to find that... Then in the southland this winter those house/solar batteries are aged... been gonna replace 'em for two years! :) this winter should see it done.

But first... we gotta roll through Colorado and get to Avondale for another week of work at PIR (Phoenix International Raceway)

With all those jobs out of the way I've got this winter marked down to a single minded focus on writing. I won't be doing much of anything else. I've got it in my mind to create the next two volumes THIS winter.

 One for the Jeb Taylor series, and the next to continue Ben Jensen's tribulations.

Those will be published if all goes well sometime around  March/April 2014.

I foolishly took it easy for too long and lost the momentum I'd gained with the first three books...  Now with #4, Shadow on the Mountain  just released, that activity is coming back.

So with that lesson well in mind this is to be a winter of words! ;) and that means Work son! Sit down, engage the brain pan and get the movie reel in my head spinning in high gear.

Both series seem to be gaining some momentum on Amazon and in Barnes & Noble's Nook store. They look to be gaining a bit of ground with their ranking dropping into far lower numbers with the two FREE books. That's juuuuust starting to carry through to the next two that are for sale. Sweet!

So... lots going on... lots yet to come...

I Just Need the Weather to Cooperate!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Harvest is Flying Along

Nobody seems to have a solid idea of where we stand. Each has a different story. The weather has been mostly good until yesterday, then it was too good. Got shut down at 2 PM because it was TOO warm. 75 degrees or so. That makes it too warm to stack the beets and they'll rot in the pile...

So too bad they can't pick, to warm we can't stack...

Buuuut depending on who you listen to... we're somewhere between 30 and 50% so looking at heading south sometime around the 20th maybe... nobody knows...

Some days the weather shines...

 and some days not so much...

I've been ferrying 25' X 36" or so diameter pipe with a grapple equipped Bobcat from a stack several hundred yards away... dodging beet trucks... who don't apparently see ANYTHING in front of them... and the rough ground...

Hit a swoop at top speed in a laden bobcat and she'll get to buckin' like a sunshishing Bronc! HooYa! :)

Do that from 10 - 4... then we get a break for 'bout an hour and run over to the Tare Lab to do our night shift from 5:30 to whenever... usually 'bout ten...

Been running the last scale there... it's a deal where you stand and twist and push and poke and lift and swing and try to stay ahead of the flood of beet bins coming down the conveyor... Everything everyone else is working is aimed right at my scale... and I'm the one who can REALLY gum up the works if I disconnect a tub from its ticket! :)

Ever see Lucille Ball in the Candy Factory episode? ... like that... only with bins of beets, some as big as your head! :)

so far... no disconnects... and a few hours here and there of genuinely jumpin' some gullies at a dead run! I was moving so fast I got wind burn on my hands! HooYa!

Not so bad for a fella the army and va deemed a cripple a loooonnnnng time ago!

Screw that cripple crap... I can still stay ahead of the crowd... 18 or 80!

You know why? Attitude.

Those who can be beat... are.

Those who can't keep on running and the ones that would whup 'em fall away in the dust!

Cowboy Up and Ride People!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!

Been too long since the last rant...  and this'un is a lil' disjointed... 12 hour days in a cacophony of noise has my kaleidoscope buzzing!

Hmmmmmmm... It's curious.

The vaunted Federal Gov't came grinding to a halt amid the calls of looming disaster and agony from the highest office in the land... Oh... that's right, he's not especially known for pragmatic statements of reality... Mostly just hysteria and fear mongering.

I got up the next morning expecting to hear sirens and see the smoke of the conflagration of the world around me... all from the absence of that institution...

Buuuut... Hmmmmm... the cars in Montana are still rolling, along with the Beet trucks. The stores still opened their doors at the appointed time, and the time clock still clocked. People continue to go on about their daily chores, and ~ SHOCK!!! ~ They're doing it without Federal assistance!!! A-Freaking-Mazing!!!

Could it Be? Could the Truth and Reality BE... that the Feds need us... but we DON'T NEED THEM???

Personally, though it'd cost me my Army disability pension... I'd kinda like to give it a years trial. No U.S. Federal Government for the next year... see how well it works. The 20% or so increase in take home pay (from lack of Federal Extortion) would be kinda nice. ;) More than make up for the loss of my disability... I'm game...

... of course, somebody needs to go back to D.C. and cut off the paychecks to the Congress and Senate... since those despicable verminous, Demothugs and Republiduds... passed a law to make sure that THEY continue to get THEIR paychecks...buuut then, with no Feds, there's no IRS... so no income to pay the useless suckers! :)

... same kind of deal when they exempted THEMSELVES from the Obamination of Obamacare... You know, the THING that was supposed to save ever'body a whole pile of hard earned cash... and has resulted in the reduction of services AND a two digit increase in Insurance premiums every year since passage? The thing that was So BAD, we couldn't expect THE CONGRESS to endure it!

I'd bet the rest of the world would sure be happy to see the Feds back on a leash... Just think of all the Wars that WON'T get started... The numbers of Drones that WON"T come Screaming out of a clear blue sky at people we Suspect of wrongdoing...

Yup... the world would be a lot more peaceful place... with the Military/Industrial complex Eisenhower warned about fifty years or so ago... Back On A Chain.

No new war in Syria... no new war in Iran. All of which I don't understand... didn't mr. Obama... decry all the wars before him? and say there'd be a change? ... Oh... guess he just meant; "I'll change the wars to a new location..."

Yup... shut the sucker down... and LEAVE it shut down.

It's Time To Sink or Swim Girls