Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Early Week is done

The first week we do only the evening work in the Quality lab doing the testing on what's called research beets.

That's a four hour deal+- ... though in the first days it's only really about two hours actual because there's just not enough work... buuuuut... they pay us for the full four, just for being here, so that's kind of a good incentive to work hard and accurate. ;)

It's a heck of a couple hours though... Hustling and pushing to get tuned up for what's coming in the next week gets the blood pumpin'. 

We're off for the weekend and the official "Campaign" will begin Tuesday Morning on the Piling Grounds.

After paying the few hundred it costs in diesel to roll up here, with the same to get back south... and at anywhere from 200 to 260 bucks a day for us on our split job deal and depending what day it is in relation to over time... a fella just about doesn't want to have it end too quickly. :-P

The beans for doin' winter work pile up pretty quick at that rate.

We got done last year in about 3 weeks on the clock. With what's prognosicated as the expected crop, I'm hoping it takes us four weeks this year... or five would be sweet! I'd run out of ambition about the time they ran out of work!

It's been warm this week. Last night standing at my scale in the Quality Lab it was 90 down on the floor and the gals running the Washer scale and dump up top had it 100 degrees up there closer to the ceiling... ha ha ha... you'd have thought they were being drawn and quartered the grousin' that was coming from there...

Claim was made it was 'cause we had so many fans running down on the floor... "It's pushing the hot air up there!" ... "You don't understand the physics of convection do ya?" I replied... yup... smart azz to the end.

A comment was made that maybe I was a mite crazy the way I was gigglin' and carryin' on. I told 'em; "Ha! Hot? This ain't Hot! Why, I seen it so hot when I was Cowboyin' we couldn't push cows during the day... It smelt like burnt hamburger and the fat just melted off 'em and left big puddles all along the trail... we moved 'em after sunset. Even then the sunlight bouncin' off the moon was so sizzlin' we fried our eggs in skillets we held against the saddle horn long before sun up as we pushed the cows through the moon beams!"

Yes sir... THAT was hot! :)

What ya do is COWBOY UP! and get on down the trail.

Today it's broke off cool and breezy. Perfect weather for pilin' beets! ... 'course... it's predicted to rain tomorrow anywhere from .2 to 2"... I'm hopin' for the two tenths which won't amount to nothin' and leave the way clear to get to work come sunrise Tuesday!

Gettin' Ready to Really Jump Some Gullies

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Slow Build Up to the Sydney Beet Harvest Has Begun

We took a last drive in the afternoon the day before we pulled out of the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There's only an up and back road there, so if you're going to see more than that you've got to put your boots on the ground...

It's purt near as pretty a country as the south unit... I just failed to capture any pics of it that caught my imagination.

So... the next morning we loaded up, hitched up and rattled our worn old rig on down the road to Sydney.

They put us up at the fairgrounds just on the edge of town. We've got electric hookup and a tangle of splitters and hoses to supply water... and a pump truck comes every two or three days, so effectively full hookups.

Yesterday was the first time in I don't know how many years that I remembered we HAVE an air conditioner! Took me near a half hour to figure out how to turn the sucker on. ;) and... find the circuit breaker that was stopping it from doin' its coolin'! Yup... it was Warm in Montana!

Ten billion acres of northern plains... but folks still pack things together as soon as you put up a city limits sign... must be a human need for companionship... that I lack :-/

Don't plan on putting out your awning in this workers resort... of course... wind isn't much of a problem. Buuuut... you'd be advised, in consideration of your neighbors... don't eat a lot of beans!

The first week we don't pile any beets... and only work the nights at the Quality Lab. That's where the sugar content of each fields beets is calculated - which is how the farmer gets paid for his crop.

During the first week we only work the lab, and are receiving the samples from what are called "test beets"... university experimental fields I believe...The actual harvest won't begin for a few days.

This is where I spend my evenings... scrambling around this scale and dump station. The beet samples come to me down the line in one of those green tubs you see on the overhead trolley.

I shove the tub onto the scale behind that yellow rail on the left... enter the weight into the computer console in the cabinet... pull the empty tub out of the dump which is that blue railed area at the end of the line... push the full tub onto the dump... hang the empty tub back on the over head trolley... and put the weight/sample ticket from the full tub into a clip on that white belt you see going through the wall on the right hand side...

When that ticket gets to the right position hit a button on that grey box just to the right of the white ticket belt, which dumps the sample beets to be cut for the sample...

Then, turn back to repeat for the next full tub...

Looking back up the line, just as we're getting ready for the evenings festivities... There's two scale lines. One below each row of tubs on the trolley.

When things really get flowing in about a week... that routine I do that I layed out above gets done every few seconds for about four hours... unless... which happens often, there's a problem with a ticket, the computer, a blown air hose or such...

... and then the five or ten seconds has to get sped up... to Catch Up!... :-) yup... That's when it's Time to Jump some gullies!!!

Come Monday or Tuesday we'll start piling beets on the Pile Grounds here at the receiving station here in Sydney... and we'll go from our four hour easy evenings to 8 hours on the pile yard and then our four hours in the evenings... and hopefully, weather permitting... get the job done in a month.

Today, I'm off to Williston to stock up on a few grocery needs. Once the big push starts there's little time if any for supply runs.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

In The North Dakota Bad Lands

Rolled on through the wind on these high plains. Nothing bad though and from the side anyway, not a diesel eating head wind. Found our way to Theodore Roosevelt National Park and another $5 camp.

You know, when I can get a good camp with water and an outhouse (that stretches my tanks) I just fail to summon the gumption to go find a boondock somewhere else. That's one nice thing about hitting a lot of these places in the off season... the corporation has gone home and the forest service or the park service are doing their job for once...

which is curious... because when the Forest Service/Park service charge their $10 bucks... they get the whole $10... when a concessionaire charges you $18 or more... the Forest Service/Park Service gets about .90 cents... (my understanding is they get 'bout 4-5% of revenue) hmmmmm... what beaurocrat schemed up that sweet and profitable deal for the parks and forest lands? ah well... what does a pus gut mountain cowboy know huh?

So... on to the Dakota Bad Lands...

First thing next morning... just before the sun broke over the trees I heard a rustlin' and thumpin' outside...  Knowing it wasn't December it couldn't be a lil' fat man and some mutant reindeer...

 I opened the door having a strong need to go utilize those facilities I was payin' my five bucks for ;)

Buuuuuuut.... I decided the waiting line was a little much so I used what I have on the rig.

One of the buggers was standing at the foot of the rigs stairs when I swung the door. Thought she might even climb in for a minute.

I won't complain. Actually I kinda like it. Something you ain't gonna see in Toledo! and it lets me know that though people continue to spread across the face of the globe unrestrained... there are a few empty places left where a fella's soul can breathe.

*For $5 and plenty of space? I'll take it!*

We spent two nights in this camp. And even when moving that's the way I've come to go. Move one day or two... and then set up for a couple. It's a nice easy pace. No need to rush when you've got nowhere to be and all day to get there!

One of the critters we'd hope to put eyes on were the wild horses that make a residence in the park. There's supposed to be 137 of 'em in several bands. We luckily stumbled upon one of 'em up close that first morning...

*The gray in back is the Stud*

*The Gray Stud*

This country don't look so rough in the summertime... the grass deep and lush... but damn. Come winter, it's a tough place to survive! well... unless you truly like a thirty mile an hour wind at twenty below!

Our camp is down in those cottonwoods along the Little Missouri...

*The Little Missouri*

One thing that always cracks me up is the number of people who stop in the middle of the road to watch... prairie dogs... ha ha ha... I mean... for me it'd be like driving down a street in the bronx and stopping traffic 'cause a norway rat was shuffling through somebodies trash! ;)

It just goes to show that folks all have different interests I suppose. To each his own... but... I don't think that dog was happy with me takin' his picture... sounded like prairie dog cussin' to me.

A short clip of that cussing dog... For all you prairie rat lovers ;)

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is in two units; There's a South unit and  North unit. After two nights down south we bumped the fifty miles or so on up to the North section. Another $5 camp and lots of room.

*North Dakota Bad Lands don't look bad to me!*

The Bad Lands in Theodore Roosevelt National Park are rough country. But for a fella like me, they provide the space where the BS of Soh-sigh-uh-tee fades away for a spell... and an old buster can just... breathe...  This is a hard country but it's real.

There's a serenity and purity here that's hard to explain or define.

You either "get it" ... or you don't.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Crazy Horse, Theodore Roosevelt and Sydney on the Horizon

Spent two nights near the Crazy Horse Mountain Carving...

...before making a daylong roll to the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park... and then Moved this morning up to the North Unit.

We'll bump on over to Sydney on Sunday, to get all the paperwork buttoned up and start working in the Lab Monday evening.

But first a little more from our stay around Rushmore and Crazy horse.

While we were set near Crazy Horse, made a small circle that took us past Rushmore...

 Where, since I've not piled any beets yet so the bank is pretty empty I opted to NOT pay $11 to park... and just Poached pics from various wide spots and pull outs. :)

On toward evening, after being advised by a reader that Military Vets are gifted free entrance to the Crazy Horse site... we went on over there to walk through the Museum and see what's what. We did that and then left for a short while to fuel up for the next days run before returning for the nights Laser Show on the Mountain.

*The light changes as the day nears Sunset ;) *

*Crazy Horse mountain sculpture lit up before the laser show*

I think it awful amazing that the man who started this monument, Korczak Ziolkowski, which dwarfs Rushmore, worked from 1947 until 1982 when he died... and never saw any more than a lot of blasted rock. His family has continued the work, totally on private funds since then.

The Face of Crazy Horse wasn't carved out of the stone until many years later. It wasn't finished until 1998 I think they said. When he died in 1982 only rough blocking had been achieved. Talk about dedication.

Inside they've art, artifacts, a gift shop and a couple of examples what the completed work is to look like.

I hadn't been aware that the site, which receives zero Federal or State funding, and has actually refused such, has much greater ambitions than just the massive sculpture. They've begun work and have plans to continue development of a Medical School for Indians as well as an American Indian Museum.

*Not a bit of national history for us to brag about*

I'd have to say that between the two monuments... Personally... I think Crazy Horse is moving out ahead of Rushmore...

So... next morning we got up and made that run to Theodore Roosevelt National Park... but this post is already purty long... so I'll save that catchin' up for the next one.

But now I'm for bed shortly... have to do paperwork and other "employment" hassles in the morning.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Late Start for Perambulatin' Across Nebraska... But We Got Gone...

Was nigh on to noon before we got ever'thing locked down and headed out. My saddle is cabled to my scooter in the back of Evin's garage till I roll back through in a bit over a month to pick 'em up...

Made no sense to load the bike up now. All she'd do is sit on truck in the weather... so... she'll be safe there until my return.

Been six months and more since the rig has hit the highway... had planned on just cutting over to 85 down in Colorado... but with the extra late start decided to run the interstate to Cheyenne, make a little bit of time, and then follow along 85 from there.

Only went as far as Scottsbluff  Nebraska so a hard day of maybe a 150 miles ;) That set us up for a hard day of around 200 miles yesterday... yup... two days and 350 miles... I'm pushin' hard.

Up north of town an hour or a bit more... at the rate I travel, is the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.

See the piece of equipment behind the entrance sign? That's over at the improvements of the Agate Ranch that sits beside the monument.

Seems a fella named Cook built that place at the end of the 1800's. He invited Red Cloud to bring his people to raise their Tee Pees in the Cottonwood grove at the ranch each year.

They'd dry beef and such on the land where they used to roam free.

Angus cattle have replaced the longhorns and buffalo of those days... and a 21st century covered wagon is the shelter these days... But... Nebraska still looks pretty fine.

We took a short mile walk up into some of the bluffs where fossilize remains of ancient beaver dens are displayed... they formed kind of a corkscrew appearance that the diggers of those days first thought were some sort of a giant plant... until one of 'em found the fossil of a beaver buried up in one... You'll have to go look for yourself... I couldn't get it to translate into a decent photo!

 I believe I always thought this far west in Nebraska had gone dry enough that it was into the short grass prairie... buuuuut... that's lookin' pretty "long grass" to me... where they mowed a bit alongside the path up into the bluffs.

The Lakota (the true name of what us white fellers always called sioux) and the Cheyenne used to roam this part of the world... Living pretty fine and free... until a horde of illegal aliens invaded their territory an overpowered 'em with sheer numbers... and TOOK their land - something to keep in mind in the 'debate' of the current times when ever'body has their panties in a twist over "illegal aliens".

Inside the visitor center are two displays. One is a collection of the fossils from a bone pit found on the monument. Apparently there was a pond or small lake that was the hunting ground of some sort of humongous Bear Dog... 

Those hunters stacked up quite a collection of bones...

and then, there's a gallery of the gifts Red Cloud's people made and gave to the Cooks in response to their friendship.

There's another "story hide" there as well... one that remembers the Battle of the Greasy Grass... what our culture calls "Custer's Last Stand" or the Battle of the Little Big Horn...

*The Lakota Version of the Battle of the Greasy Grass*

Buuuut... we were dawdlin' a lil' to much and the day was sliding away... so we had to push on...

Up north of Custer in the Paha Sapa... the Black Hills is the privately built, or being carved Crazy Horse Memorial. It's a heroric sized memorial to Chief Crazy Horse; Likely the greatest of the Lakota War Chiefs.

 It's a totally privately funded enterprise... Federal funding has been refused a couple of times. Started in 1948 it still has a ways to go...

 Just north of that site we found a National Forest camp called Orville half way between Custer and Hill City... for five bucks a night for us, it doesn't make hunting up a free camp worth the effort ;)

We pulled in about an hour after I like to clear the road, but being late in the season, there was no shortage of sites.

Having held fairly closely to the rule of two's (go two hundred miles, get off the road by two and lay up two days) we're gonna putter around this area today... and then move on to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park area in North Dakota likely on Thursday or so...

We start working at the harvest on Monday so plan is to pull into the fairgrounds where we'll be based on Saturday afternoon.

Till then it's just goin' slow