Go away little coyote… please!

Yesterday we were escorted to a Ranch, just outside of Artesia Wells, Texas. The oil company is Murphy. We are learning a lot this week. For example, I did not know that south Texas was full of hunting ranches. To be honest, I didn’t know much about this part of the state except it is closer to the border than I’m used to living.

That does not make me as nervous as the howling and yipping of the coyotes at night (and they do sound close) and the warnings about the wild feral pigs. I grew up on the farm in Illinois and I never heard a coyote in all that time. Now my parents hear them often. From what I’ve read, their populations are growing. The best thing to do is not leave anything around to entice them… like our two little Chihuahuas!

This is our first gate of our own. It’s 70-miles from the Carrizo Springs yard and about 9.2-miles off I-35. But, and this is a big but… that’s 9.2-miles of caliche-rock road… and mud… and sand… and soft spots. So we had to take it very s-l-o-w——- getting to our gate.

First we came through the main gate (now that’s a busy job for sure!). After we checked in with the gate guard there, we proceeded along caliche road. Some spots were good, some were like driving on a rock-studded washboard, and a few spots threatened to swallow us up. It was plenty dicey in those areas. So at 5-8 mph it took us a very long time to reach our gate at the Ranch.

We must have passed 8+ other gate guards guarding their gates along the way (it’s like a whole subculture).

We had no idea how long it takes to get all set up. Our FS led the way to the gate hauling our generator, water, diesel tank, lights, bell-ringer, and various other commodities. Our trailer mounted septic system will be here tomorrow. They had to get that from somewhere else, another yard probably.

Our FS thought we’d be here 3-5 days. But when the ranch owner came by yesterday he thought we’d be here for a lot longer than that. He was very upset that trucks were coming & going and the gate was wide open and unattended. So he got all over the oil company… who promptly called GGS to have someone sent ASAP.

This ranch has some prize deer and he didn’t want them wandering off through an open gate. I had no idea they buy breeding stock to keep the deer fresh (no inbreeding). I knew there were deer leases in Texas and they are very popular during hunting season, but I had no idea there were guides and breeding stock and tall fences to keep them inside the ranch compound.

Now I know why the south Texas ranchers want gate guards!

Yes, we are learning a lot about the process of gas production, ranching and deer hunting. There are two wells on this property and they are getting ready to frac. So looks like tomorrow we may have a lot of vehicles coming through the gate. And of course, we have to open it and close it and open it and close it… you get the idea.

One guy was so nice tonight. He was in a pick up truck with three tankers behind him. At 10:50 pm they got lined up and ready to vacate the gate. As I was on my way out, clipboard in hand, the pickup truck guy was opening the gate. I asked him to wait on me and he said he was going to wait, just wanted to help me out. He figured I’d opened that big gate many times all day and he was helping me out. What a guy!

Last night one of the workers left around 8:00 pm to get a hamburger. He wanted to know if I wanted one. I said thank you but I’d just eaten.

I can’t imagine going out that 9.2 miles and up to Cotulla for a burger. Of course, I don’t imagine they have a cook on site so it’s that or go hungry.

Last night I was going to start my “working nights” stint. I was tired and went out to tend the gate for a truck and heard the yipping… not that far away. Bob told me he’d take the first night and had me go to bed and get some sleep. It helped. When I got up this morning I enjoyed tending the gate. Most of these guys are very nice and give us respect!

I’m still a little scared of the things out there in the dark, but thankfully the company man brought us a generator powered tower light. With the two lights from GGS and the tower light it’s like daylight out there. Thank you… thank you… thank you…

I know this will get easier to conquer (the fear that is). Thank you Debbie for your pep talks, they’re helping!

Till next time,

Vicky

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We’re figuring this out as we go…

While working Billie’s gate in this rainy weather, we realized we need a shelter. Billie has a pop-up gazebo with a table and chairs underneath–I can see this being nice for busy gates in the rain (and we’re going to a busy gate and I’m sure it will rain again). Now for the challenge… where to get it and when to find the time to get it.

I’ve lived in Katy/Houston and Denton/Dallas for over 30 years. I’m used to just hoping in the car and getting whatever I want whenever I want with super Walmarts, Lowe’s, Home Depot stores and many others just around the corner. I’m used to having everything at my fingertips.

Not here!!!

Tuesday we went to the local Walmart located in Carrizo Springs. I couldn’t believe it… they did not have a grocery department. I don’t remember the last time I was in a plain, basic Walmart with no food department. Wow!

So I guess to expect them to carry a heavy-duty gazebo would not be very realistic. While searching for a good gazebo on Google, we saw several being offered by Walmart’s Site-to-Store. I’ve used this before. Last year I needed three Unicorn pillow pets for our granddaughters. All local Walmart stores were sold out. S-o-o-o-o, I ordered online and used Site-to-Store. It was wonderful and Christmas was saved!

I just ordered a Quickshade 10’x10′ gazebo, with rope lights to string inside it, on Walmart online and it will be delivered free to the Carrizo Springs Walmart via Site-to-Store.

Now we need to trade in our little Saturn Vue and get a 4WD vehicle. I wonder if we can do that via Site-to-Store???

Just kidding! 😀

Till next time,

Vicky

Ok… enough already!

Texas has needed rain desperately. This we know… but do we need to bust the drought all in one week–our first week as gate guards???

We have thoroughly been initiated. It started raining last night and has not quit all day. I left Walk-A-Jam ranch today to go to the yard and pick up some food and other items at our rig. I was there for several hours and when I headed back out I almost didn’t make it. My poor little car was having a problem getting traction and staying straight. I finally made it out… barely.

Back at the ranch we are ankle deep in mud. Monday they will start redoing the roads here. Billie will be back on duty Monday at noon. She will be very busy logging in caleche trucks and is it ever needed!

Forget about clean cars and a clean rig. It doesn’t exist in the South Texas outback!

We are very much looking forward to getting our routine established at our own gate next week. Right now we’ll just hunker down, stay out of the mud and enjoy Christmas together.

Till next time,

Vicky 

Playing in the mud-puddles at Walk-A-Jam Ranch…

We are into day two subbing for Billie so she can go Christmas shopping and spend the holidays with her children. We are staying in her trailer since our rig would not fit here AND it is so-o-o-o-o muddy right now she would not be able to get out and we could not get in. We have to park our car outside the gate.

Our first gate customer arrived at 6:36 this morning. It was the roller for leveling and packing the roads starting Monday so the caleche trucks can put down their loads and repair these roads. They are a mess with all the rain they’ve been getting down here. But no one is complaining because of the record drought they had over the summer!

We are not likely to have anyone else try to come in because it is Christmas and because the roads are a total mess. They’d take one look at deep, water-filled ruts and say fagetaboutit! We told Billie that the roller arrived and that they are going to repair the roads on Monday. She said she will probably have 15 pages of caleche trucks to login on Monday!

We are so grateful we bought the “mud” boots at Tractor Supply. We’ve needed them just to get to our car and back. Walk-A-Jam ranch roads could be called Wade-A-Jam right now and we are predicted to get more rain tomorrow (possibly tonight too).

Our Chihuahua fur kids Capt. Jack & Jesse James

Capt. Jack & Jesse are trying to figure out the new casa. Jack is really finding it hard to adjust!

Thank goodness Billie didn’t mind us bringing our doggies to her trailer. We would not have been able to sub for her otherwise. They are great companions! They really love all of the new smells here on the ranch. 😀

Bob will be back soon with dinner… Subway! I don’t have to cook tonight!!!

Till next time,

Vicky

I may die of “Old Age” before getting this post sent!

We left Teague, Texas Sunday morning and had a very nice trip to San Antonio where we spent our last night in an RV Park for a spell (the San Antonio KOA). You see, we headed out to Carrizo Springs and our new life as gate guards.

While in San Antonio, we wanted to go down to the Riverwalk and have dinner… our last fling before being tucked away in the south Texas outback! But, the week before Christmas… bad idea. Every parking lot was full. So we ended up driving all over and finally ate at Outback Steakhouse. I’m sure there was one closer to the KOA but the freeway system in San Antonio is not user friendly. I’ve lived in Houston & the Dallas area and they are much easier to get around in. San Antonio is a nightmare to drive in and the Riverwalk attraction downtown is a zoo! Next time we’ll take the city bus down from the campground!!!

I did get to shop at an HEB Central Market. What a treat to find grass-fed beef! As soon as we got the last grocery bag transferred from the car to the rig, it started to rain. We did not know what a mess would be until tomorrow…

Monday morning we got on the road by 10 am in the chilly rain. What a surprise when we left I-35 to head into the outback country. We could now see what our new surroundings would look like in the worst possible scenerio–wet caleche filled roads. And I’m talking about the highway!

The Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas is experiencing a drilling boom. There are wells being drilled all over the place and gate guards standing sentry to the ranch entrances (and many other places I’m sure!).

Fortunately, as we pulled into the GGS yard in Carrizo Springs, the rain was just ending. Unfortunately, we had a shock coming when we got out of the rig and went to start unhooking the car. We were now the proud owners of a grayish-brownish mudball. Gone was the silver Saturn Vue we were dragging behind when we left San Antonio. And the rig didn’t look much better. And this caleche stuff is like concrete. You are so right about that Debbie 😀

About 30-minutes later Roger (our GGS contact/boss) came to greet us and show us where to hook up. He told us about an opening coming up in about a week and it sounded interesting to us. His wife is also a gate guard nearby and needed someone to fill in for her at her gate about 10 miles away so she could go see her kids for Christmas. We said we’d talk it over.

Then he said a new gate just opened up over by Cotulla and would we like to go see it and see if our rig would fit at that gate? He gave us his county map and off we went to go check it out.

Let me just say a word about the “side” roads here… they are mostly dirt. When it rains they are MUD!!! Fortunately this stuff dries out fast or we would not have been able to go see this gate. It looked like a good job and Roger said we’d only need to be here just until our other gate opened up (translation: as soon as they grade the road and our predicessors can get out and we can get our caleche soaked Silver Bullet in).

Formerly named the Silver Bullet covered in caleche!

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can't see out the windows at all!

Later Roger called us back and said he found someone else to take that gate since we were going to a different one in a week. That would save us crawling about 8-10 miles on that dirt road. Did we just want to wait?

So we said yes. Actually we were looking forward to a week of just relaxing before going to our gate. But, when we saw Roger later, he asked if we decided to fill in for his wife at her gate for four days.

Now Roger is a real nice fellow and we certainly understand wanting to see your children at Christmas… so we said we’d be happy to fill in for her. It’s not a real busy gate and we can take the doggies with us so it’s all good.

Tonight we gained new neighbors. They just joined GGS (coming from another company). They are very nice people from New Hampshire. Yes, they are “winter Texans.”

I don’t imagine they will be here at the yard for long. New gates are always opening up around here. This place is a booming drilling area for sure!

I’ll give you more details about where we will be going later. It sounds like a good gate, of course, we don’t have much experience by which to judge that yet.

As for the next four days, the reason we need to stay at the other guard’s trailer is because our rig will not fit at her gate. And it is one of those with huge ruts from all of this rain. Since it is only 10 miles away (and her refrigerator is not working well) we’ll sleep there and I’ll go back & forth to fix meals and take them to Bob. It’s only for four days! We’ll also take turns coming home to shower. No place like your own shower.

The Internet is so slow here at the gate that I fear I may grow OLD before I get this thing posted. I may not be able to do much posting while we’re filling in at Billie’s gate. She doesn’t have a wilson amp… so I may be quiet for a few days… unless I use my cell phone. If so, they’ll be short posts for sure!

So I guess I better hit send on this puppy so it can get done before we turn in for the night. We are going to look into satellite Internet costs. This is ridiculous!!!

Till next time,

Vicky

12 Days & Counting Down…

I’ve been a bit quiet lately. Been gobbling up grandchildren time and getting everything ready for our new gate-guarding lifestyle soon.

We report for duty at the Whitsett, Texas yard on December 19th to be exact… 12-days and counting down.

Bob got his security license and mine is still in the works and Patty said this is not a problem.

I now have a pair a Ariat Fat-Baby boots for working in and Ranch-Baby boots for my “go-to-town” boots. All kidding aside, I’m loving this whole outfitting thing. Bob is too. We both got new, warm jackets for the winter days and nights plus black vinyl dusters for those soaking Texas rains. It can sure come down hard here in the Lone Star State. I wonder if Debbie has gotten soaked in a Texas downpour yet?

We’ve had such a drought here for the last year that we did not know if we had any leaks in our rig or not. We bought it last year in October. Well, one of the four slides leaks a bit when it rains. We’ll get that fixed one of these days. It’s not bad.

We also went to the Tractor Supply (it has now become one of our favorite stores–who knew!!!) black Friday sale and picked up our all-weather rain boots for when we get over ankle-deep in caleche. 🙂

Look for me to post more frequently once we get into our new lifestyle. I’m sure there will be lots to write about.

Till next time…

Vicky