Monday, September 30, 2013

The Beet Harvest is in Full Swing

We did our first yard shift today, in this Sugar Beet Harvest, starting the Beet Piles... First thing I discovered is that they discovered just what a genuine western hero I truly was... so they gave me a promotion 'fore I'd even worked a day in the yard.

*Sydney Sugars Beet Piling Station*


Yup... ya gotta have a lot of respect for folks bright enough to put me in a skidsteer...

...since that is requiring of such a high IQ and quick reflexes... ;)

... and I think we'll probably find that 24' pipe I lost too...

It should likely be somewhere behind the pile of others! :)

Hell... it can't have rolled THAT far! :)


*My Bobcat with a grapple setting tubes for pile ventilation*

 So... the day started off cool... for a few minutes... but when that Montana sun climbed high enough it got warm enough to have stuff leaking outa my hide... and I since I hadn't put that awful much on, I was running out of stuff to take off... at least and have the women folk still able to keep their attention on the BEETS! ;)

So... here's a quick, rough lil' clip from my phone to give ya some perspective of the operation...

video

 My... don't it look all bright and sunny? ...

Montana's like a lot of the rest of the west... wait a minute or six and things'll change...


The wind from the storm had the dust so thick for a bit you couldn't see 'cross the lot... and then the rain that came behind it had that gumbo stick to your feet so's you gained 3" with every step...

... of course... some guys were sitting inside the nice dry, warm cab of his Bobcat, listening to the radio :) while herself was out in it wading around in the mud and the crud.

I felt terrible about it too. Just plumb terrible ... but what could I do?! I juuuuuust had to sit there all dry and cozy... in that job I was assigned! :)

Then come the afternoon... we walked back to the truck to move over for our night shift in the "Tare Lab" ... and the truck wouldn't start! oooooffffffffTA!

Second crank it turned over... just...

Rolled back to the fairgrounds for our short break between shifts, left it running until we left for the Lab... and only shut it back off when we returned to the factory and did that shift.

When we walked back out to the rig after  the shift, I crossed my eyes and gritted my fingers ??? huh??? yeah, don't worry... I don't know what the hell that means either... but, when I cranked it over... the gremlin took a nap and she fired right up just like normal.

So...Tomorrow in the A.M. we do it all over again. 12 hour days... and only 20 of 'em left... give or take.

Piling Beets to pile cash
Brian

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Last of the Easy Days... Tomorrow It's Time to Jump Some Gullies!

Finished up the early "training" bit with the "research" beets from the USDA Friday evening... and then had the weekend "off"... to be ready to Rock and Roll the 12 hour days, seven days a week... starting Monday morning!

I have a bit of a sneaky suspicion that Monday is gonna get a mite western. The past three nights we'd had a bit of an "escapade" with co-ordination  'tween all the moving parts. Uh huh.. getting juuuuust a touch out of the proper rhythm ~ As in the bovine processed vegetable matter was coming into opposition with the air recirculation device. Uh Huh... can you spell SPLATTER?

Ha ha... yeah... each tub of beets to be tested has a ticket... specific to it... and they can't be allowed to get crossed up with some other bucket... and... yup... they did... DEFCON 5! DIVE DIVE DIVE!!! HONNNNK HONNNNNK HONNNNNNK!!! INCOMING INCOMING!!! MAN YOUR BATTLE STATIONS!!! :)

WHOOOOOEE! Kind of a grinner to see ever'body scramblin' 'round with a look on their face like Mother Theresa just got caught at the Motel 6 with a schoolboy.

Soooo... Monday we hit the pilers in the stackyard for six hours or so... then an hour break and crank up the "tare lab" come sundown and work that till the work is done... Hopefully not much after ten or so... then...

Get up the next morning for the next 18 or 23 days and do it all over again!


Yesterday afternoon we had a bit of a camp/crew potluck here at the fairgrounds for all the folks camped here working the harvest.

Had a bit of a downer this week as well. A long time reader of this blog turned up here unexpectedly to work the harvest.

John Davidson walked up our first day here and introduced himself. I'd no idea he was going to be here. I've "known" John for five or six years, though I'd never seen his face, only his truck! ;)

He sent me the confidence that my idea to "retard" the hitch on the truck so I could carry my motorcycle behind the cab would work just fine; contrary to all the nay sayers warning me of catastrophe. His old truck has been a part of the main website for several years! (yeah... I know... in finding the page his rig was posted on... I discovered yet another page requiring rebuilding ~ no rest for the wicked huh?)

Well, his wife Colleen got sick the very first night of work in the lab. The next thing we knew she was in Intensive care in the local hospital. They turned her loose yesterday and this morning they hitched up their toad and headed for home over in Washington with a weeks worth of medication to get 'em there.

We're all wishin' 'em well, safe travels and a quick mending from the infection she suffered. They had a nice sunrise this morning to send 'em off on their journey west...

*Sunrise over the sugar beet harvest*


'Course... red sky in the morning, sailor's warning... kinda says they might be drivin' into a bit of weather 'tween here and home.

In amongst all the things goin' on I got my latest volume of the Ben Jensen Series published and up live at Amazon where it's selling modestly well. Considering all the competition a guy has, that's a pretty pleasant place to be.

Mary left this review today on the first story of the series ~ A Pair of Second Chances~ ;  "I could not get Sam Elliott out of my head! Love to read westerns and love stories. So add suspense and real life adventure -I'm hooked! Usually not interested in a love story written by a guy. This one is different. Not sourly sweet. Could not put this down. Love me some cowboy and this just proves old cowboys never die. Highly recommended."

Wow... There's a lady who knows how to make a writer feel damn Fine! I'm gonna have to exercise some extra care to keep my ego under control! ;)

If you haven't got your copy or have never read the first volume, follow that link and you can get Your copy of ~ A Pair of Second Chances ~ FREE at Amazon! Then you'll be in great shape for the continuing story in ~ Shadow on the Mountain~. ... "A Pair" is also available free at Barnes & Noble for those of you with NOOKS. "Shadow" will be coming up Live in the NOOK store shortly as well. It just hasn't worked it's way through the distribution channels yet.

Be sure to pass on the links for the FREE series Starters and the next books to your mystery and suspense with a bit of action and romance loving friends. This Ol' Buster will be forever grateful! ...

If you read the stories, please, Remember to travel back to the store where you bought it and leave a review. Many many people make their purchases based on those. So authors are Very Grateful for the ones you leave... But, Be Honest with 'em too!

Well... It's what we used to call "Ruck Time" in the army... gotta check my gear bag to make sure I'm set up for whatever weather comes down on us tomorrow when we get to Pilin' sugar beets!

Writin' and Pilin' and Weighin' and Grinnin'
Brian



Friday, September 27, 2013

Working , Wandering and Writing

We took a run the other day, before our evening shift in the Tare Lab, up to Williston, North Dakota and killed two birds with one run.

Fort Union is up that way, right near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. Soooo... we rolled our way through the heavy road construction and made our first stop there.

The fort sits on a low rise above the Missouri and was at one time THE place on the upper Missouri.


Fort Union Bastion

The place has the look of the "Hollywood" forts with the stockades, though, the Bastions built with rock are a lil' fancier.


With two bastions, set in diagonally opposite corners, the walls of the stockade would be pretty much impregnable to a fella on a horse with nothing but arrows...

Cannon in Fort Union Bastion




If you were foolish enough to come at 'em with a bad attitude... 'tween the cannons protecting the walls... and all the firing ports for riflemen... You were bound to have a bad day...

Even at the main gate they had some pretty good protection. Traders might be allowed inside the first gate...


Just inside the first gate is a second... with the trading area the building on the left... in especially rough times... they kept the gate shut and you did your "trading" through that lil' window in the stockade wall...


 Inside that Trading Area is a pretty fine great room... if you were allowed in! :)



From the parapets they had a 360 degree view from the river to the rolling country to the north... though... "rolling" might be a little bit of an exaggeration. 


I believe they called the fella running the place the Bourgeois... and even back in the Missouri River Wilderness, in 1820 something... they guy lived pretty fine...

Bourgeois House at Fort Union on the Missouri River


A lil' display of the difference in housing twixt the "Traders" and the Souix, Cheyenne, Blackfeet, Flathead et al.

On the left of that frame and another set over behind the Tipi... is the foundation beams of where they had warehouses, stores and quarters for the people living/working there. One of the tasks was to take buffalo robes and other furs too I suppose and compress them into 100 lb bales for shipment back to the settlements...


They got pretty high tech there... Big Log... a couple of fat guys hoppin' on the end and Wa La! Compressed fur!

Well, with the tourista stuff done for the day we moved on up to the Oil Boomtown of Williston, North Dakota... where you'd never know there was any sort of economic hard times... There or Sydney for that matter. There's not hardly a store front without a "Help Wanted" sign... and the stores and shops are all bustling...

The Walmart in Williston, where we stocked up for the next few weeks of work is supposed to be the #1 profitable store in the country... the goods don't hardly stop moving... they just flow off the trucks and right on up to the registers. :)

The road construction slowed us down so much I was a mite afeared we could be late getting back for our shift, but... clever guy I am... I read the map and found another way around that had us sailing back into the fairgrounds in plenty of time to get ready and roll on over to the Sugar Factory to add some more sweetness to your morning coffee!


*Sydney Sugars Factory*
It's laundry day before we work tonight... and I may not get another for a while... so I'd better get at it! annnnnd I'm trying to get the initial setup for writing the NEXT Book started! Sometimes I feel like one of those Egyptian things with the six arms...

... only trouble is... I got one slow brain trying to keep track of 'em all!

It's work work work
Brian

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Shadow on the Mountain, book #2 of the Ben Jensen Series Has Been Published.

I worked into the night last night when we got back from our work at the Sugar Factory Lab to begin the publishing of Shadow on the Mountain.



It's live on Smashwords and will soon be available at Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Diesel et al.

This morning I took a deep breath, and pushed the UPLOAD button at Amazon... so it should appear in the Kindle store possibly later today, maybe tomorrow morning.

You can get to the series by either following (and book marking) the BK Gore Publishing link in the left margin, or the Smashwords link above.

If you've not read any of the story yet, the series starter ~ A Pair of Second Chances ~ is Free at that Smashwords link and also ALL of my Retailers. Download a copy now and you'll be all up to date and ready to read the continuing story in ~ Shadow on the Mountain!

And please, when you've read any of the stories, please go back and leave a review. It's your words that make the difference with curious readers.

Many Many Thanks!
Brian

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Breakin' in Easy at the Beet Harvest...

"OK here's the deal... the tub comes down the conveyor like that one... you grab it, pull out its tag, check it for rocks, pull it on here, don't get caught in that chain, make sure it's clear, read the weight here, Don't CLIMB on ANYTHING! read the weight there, check it here, write it on there, throw it over there if it's wrong, shove it to the end, DON'T CLIMB on ANYTHING! stick the ticket in this, every third one, make sure it's straight! wait till it gets HERE then PUSH THAT BUTTON! grab the empty tub hang it on the chain, oops! you put it on back'ards! pull another tub... Hurry! Here comes four more!... go! Go! GO!"

"HUH? Where's the tub? I count what and put it where? Climb up on where? I didn't hear you! over all the machinery!" ;)

Inside the "Lab" the gals are wrappin', blenderizing, filtering and weighing and who knows what else to them poor sliced diced and beat up sugar beets.

Clear down at the other end of the line, on past the washer and dryer :) is where the bags of test beets come in. A nice shiny spot that looks kinda like what you'd expect a southern grease monkeys 75 year old backwoods auto repair shop to look like... if he's sittin' barefoot on a bench with a beer in one hand, a chunk of grass hangin' out of his mouth, no shirt and his other hand in his coveralls...

Yes sir... don't think "Brewery tour" when you think sugar beet factories. No stainless steel or polished copper vats here. Dust, noise and hub bub.

So... for a guy that's been pretty much keeping to the quieter and more serene parts of the west the past 37 months or so... it's a mite of an eye opener! but then... not so far different than the majority of his life...

Though... that "lab" is a lot quieter than a 105 mm. Howitzer! About like a set of corrals when you're sortin' off calves and ever'body's bawlin' for their mommas.

I guess you could describe the doin's as a bit of an organized cluster F... andango. ;) It's one of those deals where, when you only do something for a short while once a year... it takes a bit to get back in the rhythm... Especially when you're startin' off the first night with a crew that's never danced to that tune before!

Ended up the night at the far end loading the beets, where they come in for testing, into the tubs going up the conveyor to the washer for a bath. I think I'll push for that job in the future. It's a lot quieter out there!

... and a fella can actually see the sky... guess I'm gonna have to keep on paying my taxes right... just bein' inside that building with no windows to see out... tells me prison isn't a place I'd do well. ;)

So... this week, whatever work they've got for us will be there in the "Lab"... we'll orientate for the stacking yard at the end of the week and then next it's pilin' beets. Oh Yes... an Orgy of anticipation!

and why am I doin' this? ... um... tires, batteries, windshields and debt... pieces and parts...

...To Keep it Keepin' On...
Brian




Monday, September 23, 2013

Limited Experience as a Beet Picker

Limited as in None...

Actually, "Beet Picker" is a fib... we'll be working the area where the trucks deliver the Beets from the field to the Sugar Plant, after they've been ripped from the ground by the machinery. They have to dump 'em into a hopper setup that then shakes the mud and crud off of 'em and lifts the things up into a great tall stack.

So... a better Moniker;  Truck Guide? Beet Stacker? Moving Target? Gen'l Step an' Fetchit? 

They'll sit there through most of the winter before they actually get to 'em all to extract the sugar.

So... somebody has to control the truck traffic, keep the machinery clear... and also do the testing work in what they call the lab. We managed to snag a lil' of both jobs. We'll be working our 8 hours out under the sunny Montana sky... which today is hiding behind a grey curtain called CLOUDS... and then 'bout 5 in the evening we'll move over into the "Lab" for four to whatever hours until that chore is complete.

My guess is that at the end of three weeks? I'll be purt near the end of my desire to bust hump working for dollars and will be ready to roll south for the Arizona Desert!

Today we'll be starting our first "day"... but it doesn't happen till 'bout 5 tonight. We'll be training in the "lab"... which they say ISN'T a white coat geek retreat... but really just a dirty old building where they process the samples from the trucks. It's from those samples that they really figure out how much the farmer is gonna get paid...

So... an easy week this week... and then they turn the dogs loose next Monday. :)

I took a break from editing yesterday and was walking down to the end of the row of rigs here in the county fairgrounds... to visit with a blog reader... and never got there.

I was walking past a rig and another guy introduced himself (I'd never seen a pic)... He's the guy that re-enforced my own belief... a bunch of years ago now, that I could haul my bike behind the cab the way I do... We ended up sitting in front of his rig fixing all the ills of the world with a lil' "horse sense".

Today... I gotta make it all the way to the end of the row!... Have you any idea how tough a job that is for an itinerant, inveterate Bucket Mouth? ...

Maybe if I sneak along behind 'em all... 

So... I better go make another pot of Joe... so I'm well coffeed up for the Journey!

Readying to Get Beeted
Brian

Thursday, September 19, 2013

From Death Valley to Sydney Montana

 Found our last FREE Montana boondock Yesterday Afternoon, just below the Dam at Fort Peck Reservoir... Robinson Point...

That's the largest earthen dam in the world stretching across the horizon behind the rig.

Since I'm writing this... this morning... it didn't break in the night... a worry... cuz you know... it DID break when they were BUILDING it ;)

Now... if you want to tempt fate a bit more... and want the availability of power... you move over to the Corp of Engineers camp directly below the dam...



 Yup...if there's one thing the Army knows how to do... it's properly arrange a campsite. It is likely the prettiest camp we've ever seen. "Looks like a park"... imagine that...

Just to the east of that camp is a pretty fine interpretive center... with displays of a lot of the local areas as well as the story of the building of the dam and reservoir...




There was a case that showed a lil' demonstration of why you DON'T bring in Non-Native species... The "locals" have no defenses against them... like those dang mussles that are spreading like a cancer...

quagga mussle infestation

Hmmm... guess they forgot that lesson when they planted a non-native wolf variety...

~~~

Well, last night the skies welcomed us to Fort Peck, and the Fort Peck Dam... and celebrated our last night of "Freedom" for a few weeks. ;)



Sunset over Fort Peck Reservoir




Fort Peck Dam in the Moonlight




We started this season's roll back about the late middle of March, running from Cottonwood into Death Valley...

Sand Dunes in Death Valley California






Death Valley Color



Had our stumbles and breaks along the way...




... and seen some beautiful sights...




















I've rode some roads not ridden before... and some I've covered many times...


Since we pulled out of our Cottonwood camp the Ol' Truck has moved some 7400 miles... maybe 1/3 or so with the fiver on... the rest snoopin' around... and then the Raider has made a few more...

Today... we'll pull on over the last few miles to Sydney Montana and sign our papers to work for the next few weeks.

So... not knowing how it's all gonna shake out... it might could be a lil' quiet around here for a bit... there's only so much a fella can say ~ I think ~ about stacking Beets!

Ready and not-totally-willing
Brian

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wading Into an Unsure and Hectic Future...

We've chosen to pull out a day earlier than originally planned. It's only 200 miles and a bit to Sydney, "but since we aren't sure where we are and don't know where we're goin'... there's no use bein' late."

We'll leave late and stop early somewhere around the Fort Peck Dam. That'll leave us a pretty short run tomorrow so that we can get in with plenty of time to find out where we need to be, get our paperwork filled out and... GULP... be ready to work come Monday morning.

Not knowing where we'll truly be or what the situation there is... I've no way of knowing what my ability to "Connect" will be... so that's just another unknown... soon to be discovered.

I'm hopeful that the weather that has mostly been gentle with us all season will continue to smile. We've mostly managed to avoid the rains and fogs along the coast, the fires through the mountains and all the tribulations our folks down home have endured the past several days.

Now, with 12 hour days standing in a piling station of some sort coming up... I'd just as soon have the good weather hold. Truth be known they can't operate in bad weather so it's not so much that, but that if bad weather arrives it will hold up the works and we HAVE to leave for our Phoenix gig by midweek the last week of October...

So... if the three week harvest gets drug out much... things could get a mite tight...

In amongst all that... I'm working on the final edits and text work so I can Publish the newest Novel sometime in Early October...

I finished the cover for that story yesterday... and appropriately, since much of the story takes place there... the photograph that is the foundation of the cover is looking north toward the western side of the Bob Marshall wilderness from a position on the SW corner of the Scapegoat Wilderness east of Seeley Lake, Montana.

bookcover for Shadow on the Mountain by BK Gore

... and there's an announcement to be made! In preparation for the release of book #2 of the Ben Jensen series...

I have rolled the prices for my first two novels, A Matter of Honor and A Pair of Second Chances, each the starters for their series, back to FREE at Smashwords.

That Price should be reflected at other retailers in the near future including Amazon as the change circulates up through the distribution chain.

This is a permanent change. If you've been waiting to try one of the series... you'll never get a better price! ;) So if you know somebody whose got a liking for Westerns (Honor) or more modern Mystery/suspense (Pair) pass the word on that they can get a good book for a pretty fair price!

So... I'd better get back to my journal making, manuscript editing, rig loading and tourista imitations... if I'm gonna git where I'm a goin'!

Life for a lazy man is truly getting difficult! ;)
Brian



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Across the Wide Missouri to Malta

We left Hungry Horse bound for Sydney Montana with just under two weeks to get there and no real "plan" on route or stops... just go where it feels right.

The first possibility was a short haul to a spot on the southeast border of Glacier... but as we approached that... the little voice just whispered; "Keep Rolling" ... and so I did.

We ended up asphalt boondocking at the Great Falls Wally World resort after a few stops for some supplies and a software program I needed to replace so I can get this next Novel published...

The next morning found us bound for the Missouri River above Lewistown. There's a BLM camp there on the river right beside hwy 191... it's only real drawback was zero signal...

The Missouri is quite a change from the rivers and lakes of western Montana and Idaho. There you look down into crystal water... the Missouri? If it would stop flowing I believe you could plant corn in it.

With all the muddy water running lazily down that stream the other day... and knowing how long it's been flowin'... it' a wonder there's any of Montana that hasn't already been carried down to the gulf!


*The Missouri Breaks*


*The Missouri River ~ Keel Boat Highway of the Mountain Men*

Just a mile up the highway and four or five back in along the river is an area of the Charles Russle Wildlife Refuge that the elk use this time of year for their annual amorous pursuits. We fought skeeters the size of beagles that were so thick four tourists were hauled off in ambulances from blood loss...

while I tried to capture some photographs...

This here isn't like down in Rocky Mountain National Park... these guys pretty much hung back in the timber along the river and made capturing a portrait kind of iffy...

Any other time I'd have just laid up for a couple of days... but we were expecting contact from our future beet picking employers...

... so I thought we should move on in the morning to get back into a service area...

... That and with a 1000 year storm tearing up our home country in Colorado and threatening family and Friends, I just wasn't willing to be out of contact more than overnight.

So on we rolled and found signal just a bit south of Malta... and a $3 a day park on the edge of this lil' Montana Burg.


*Malta, Montana community Park*

Not a bad spot... even if it is so badly crowded as you can see...

Even had some neighbors for a few hours...


 Some folks were hauling some mares and colts from somewhere to somewhere else...

Part of the park is the local fairgrounds/Rodeo arena setup.

They pulled in here to give the horses a break from the road and move around on ground that wasn't moving around under them!


 This is starting to be an issue... One I hadn't expected...

Horses...

I'd moved "away" from them the last few years in that old life... with life having got a hold of parts of me I never should have allowed...

Now... more and more... I find a longing for the feel of a horse under me again...

I'm telling you... it's a difficult thing to be a split personality with so many of the personalities totally ignorant of the existence of all the others!

Well, in amongst all of that, Contact got made with the Beet Pickers... and when they heard how close we were they said; "Well come on over and we'll put you to work!" sooooo... next Monday we'll be goin' to work 'bout a week earlier than we'd thought... which won't do any damage to the poke at all.

While sitting here I've put together the first signature block of the first Journal in my Leather Shop restart effort...

Book Binding Signature Stitching Frame
*Signatures being stitched*


Journal Signature Block
*Completed Signature Block*

Now all I have to do is find the leather to carver the cover... not an easy task in these small towns it seems...

So... with that lil' project suspended for lack of materials... I went to work carving on the Cover for my Newest Novel, to take a break from editing... and can't decided which one I prefer...



Since I'm straddling the fence of indecision... and wearing a hole in a sensitive spot on my new wranglers...

... I'll probably take most of the day off and go check out the Charles Russell Memorial... and maybe Fort Peck Dam...

That'll help the aches of Cowboyin' nostalgia I'm sure!

Oh lordy... I wonder if I'll ever learn to NOT stir the pot?

Till that joyous day... I guess I'll just keep on ridin' out the storms as they come up...

Saddling Up another day

~ Brian