From chaos to church-mouse quiet…

Granddaughter Lily with a cold, working her pacifier on one side of her mouth while trying to breathe out of the other side. She is a determined child! Poor little girl ūüė¶

All of a sudden it is quiet as a church around here. Where did everybody go?

One of our wells has just finished the fracing process and from what I hear it was a success. Yeah! Traffic has been steady and heavy during the fracing process. It does start to run like a well oiled machine though, when things go like they are supposed to go. They had a few hiccups on this job, but nothing that prevented the job from being completed.

That said, they are still fishing in the other well trying to get it ready to frac. Not real sure what the status is yet for that location. Hopefully it will be ready soon!

Fishing in the oil/gas field honey hole...

Meanwhile we’ve gone from chaos to quiet real fast. Being the weekend may have something to do with it too.

Dust devil forming right in front of me on the road to the ranch.

Bob getting ready to shut the gate after truck leaves.

Bob opening the gate for me as I come back from town

I know I’ve complained about how rough our road is, the truckers agree whole-heartedly. Over the last two days they’ve been grading the 9.2 mile road getting here and I’m not sure that’s a blessing. Sure, I was able to make the trip to I-35 on the way to town today¬†in only¬†35 minutes instead of 55 , but the dust is now flying everywhere.

Tonight the winds have really kicked up and gusts of caliche dust are swirling everywhere. Thank goodness traffic is light tonight!

Last night I enjoyed a quiet evening working on a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Hopefully, I’ll finish it over the weekend.

Working on a Thomas Kincaid puzzle

We hope it does remain this quiet for a few days anyway. The break is nice for a change. Just talked to one of the workers and looks like things are¬†improving on the “fishing” well. Maybe next week they can get it into the fracing stage…

Till next time,

Vicky

Getting ready for prime time…

Our R&R at the ranch is coming to an end. The second well is gearing up to start fracing and the fishing team arrived today to get the first well back up and ready to frac. A new wrinkle-dinkle… the fishing guys want to be notified when someone is headed down their way. I figure it is probably a safety issue. They left us a radio to use. It’s out on the table under the gazebo so it’s near the gate and handy.

I figure we will easily be here another three weeks (possibly more). It all depends on how smoothly everything goes from here on out. You never know in this business.

Since we have traffic in & out I’m living dangerously… cooking up a soup bone and chicken breasts for homemade soup. When I went outside to tend the gate,¬†it smelled even stronger outside¬†than inside. O–k–a–y… let’s hope I haven’t just rung the dinner bell for the coyotes!

They howled indignantly night before last when some frac tanks went down the road near what must be a den. It’s across the fence (thank goodness) and just a little ways away. I don’t think they liked the intrution. But, they have been pretty silent since then. Hopefully they went to their vacation home… far, far away!

I’ve seen posts about the Cotulla post office being very easy to deal with. I’ll be going to the post office Friday to go get our mail package from my daughter. She gets all of our mail and packs it all in a “if it fits it ships” priority box and sends it to us upon request. Since I can’t find anything I’m used to buying in the stores around here (remember, I’m used to big city stores), I order online and have it sent to her house. She then ships it to me. Sounds expensive, but actually it’s cheaper than trying to get¬†the companies to send stuff via USPS. They all use UPS or FedEx. And of course, general deliver addresses are not good for those delivery companies.

Perhaps the post office would not be going broke if they’d make shipping to remote locations a bit more friendly… just sayin…

This will be my first time, since we arrived here three weeks ago, to get out and go to the store. I hope the Super S Food Store¬†in Cotulla has more to offer than the HEB in Carrizo Springs. But I’m not getting my hopes up. I may have to make a trip to Laredo next week!

Bob is going to take a look at the dishwasher tomorrow to see if a connection just worked loose on the way out here or if a circuit board went out. It acts like a loose connection, sometimes it works right and then it will give a trouble code. Hopefully he can get it working again. We sure do miss it. It is still in warranty, but that doesn’t do much good out here!

Looks like I have a line of trucks coming in…

Till next time,

Vicky

Being a night owl has it’s advantages…

Our gate at sunset.

Looks like we will get busy again tomorrow. Since they encountered a problem at Well 1 a week ago, we’ve been waiting for the “fix-it” team to come and get things going again. We’d heard it would be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before the fix-it team would get here. It’s looking more like a few weeks at this point.

Our pad at Nye Ranch

I had wondered why they didn’t just move over to Well 2 and get it going while they were waiting for the other one to get fixed. Today we were told¬†that is exactly what they are going to do. So around noon, what Bob calls the Johnson Trailers, came rolling in. This time they headed for Well 2. I’m not at all sure why Bob calls them Johnson Trailers… he was in the oil/gas industry (as an accountant) while he lived in Oklahoma years ago. These are the tanks the big trucks haul behind them and they slant downwards from¬†front to back¬†while they are in transit. I’ll have to ask him about the Johnson thing??? I’ll keep you posted…

Our new gazebo

Rope lights in the gazebo

Twin Gates at Sunrise... the couple attending the gate next to us are Bob & Joyce. They have a travel trailer and work for LOMA. Their gate is for one well, a new drilling site.

For the last 5 nights I’ve really been able to relax and enjoy myself. Working at night does have its advantages. I’ve been able to start getting caught up on reading (still have a long ways to go). I have a card table out and a jigsaw puzzle beconing to me at this moment and I’ve updated my computer, Nook, and iPhone. And been able to surf the net for yeast free recipes since I’m on a yeast-free eating program for two more months. I don’t think I’ve cooked this much in the last five years. One reason is so I can cook for the eating program, and the other is because we can’t just “go to town for a bite to eat” on a whim. That would involve one of us (because one of us has to be¬†tending the gate)¬†traveling the 8-mile road from hell and it’s just not worth it!

It’s not all bad though. By doing my own cooking¬†(and exercising portion control) I’ve lost 4 inches around my waist. I no longer need to change out of my jeans to my comfy pants… my jeans ARE my comfy pants. How cool is that! Also, I’m not having as much access to the stores and junk foods, Bob (who was formerly a carb-a-holic) has really reformed his eating habits and is losing weight also. He’s going to look downright skinny if he doesn’t slow down.

Why does it seem so much easier for men to just drop weight… and quickly at that!?#@%!

With nights being slower than days (as a rule), it does have its advantages. I wonder if that’s why so many women work nights? Seems like it’s becoming a trend in the gate guarding world…

As I was doing all of the updating (downloading files) on my electronic toys, I noticed one thing… on most nights my download speed slows to a crawl during the wee hours of the morning. Do you think they power down the cell towers during off-peak hours? Just sayin…

I also must confess, I’ve been playing Words with Friends on my Nook. Two nights ago I bought it, cheap entertainment for $2.99. Fun thing is you can play with an imaginary friend and have a full-blown game going with Me and Myself. Wonder if I can add I to the game? If anyone out there plays Words with Friends, let me know. I have it on my Nook and would love to play a game with others, just need to know how to go about all that. Never been an online gamer before.

Time to go get a yeast-free, sugar-free peanut butter cookie and almond milk snack. I know, sounds disgusting, but they are actually very good. And addicting! It truly¬†satisfies my sweet tooth while helping me lose more inches. Can’t beat that. And no, I don’t use Splenda or anything like that. I use natural sweeteners that are actually good for you.

So, bon-appetit! Till next time…

Vicky

What goes in, must go out… repeat as needed…

Being a gate guard is like watching people on a carousel. They get on… they get off… repeat as desired. In the case of my granddaughter, Katelyn, this process can be repeated often. In the drilling fields, this is not desirable.

I’ve noticed a pattern emerging here. I’ll explain…

We have two wells on this ranch. Both are scheduled to frac consecutively. For the last two days we have been very busy with all kinds of traffic. All things big and small have come through our gate at all hours. Last night they started the serious job of fracing the first well.

Sunset at the ranch--can't get this view in town!

Yesterday we noticed that quite a few of the sand trucks were leaving… without unloading. We scratched our heads and figured we’d learn what all that was all about in due time. And we did–later.

Turns out that the item used to set the charges used in the fracing process got stuck somewhere down in the well hole. They tried unsuccessfully to fix the problem. And that means really bad news.

Now they’ve shut the well down until another company can come out and correct the situation. Soooooo… everyone is filing out just as the came in. In a steady stream.

We are finding this all so fascinating! For example, the big house trailers they brought to provide quarters for the workers, will be going out tomorrow. All of the fracing equipment trucks (must be 20+) will be heading out too. Sand trucks are all gone and portable lights just left the gate.

From what we understand, the “fix-it” company will be here in a day or two and it may take up to a week for them to get to “Mission Accomplished.” In the meantime, things will quiet down around here until… until the whole thing starts all over again.

Can you imagine what the scenario is if this happens again to this well or the second one?

I’m begining to understand (I hate to say this) why oil and gas companies need to make big profits. They have big, big expenses. Even when a well turns out to be a winner, and many do not, getting it to the ultimate level of production can be frought with expenses…¬†huge expenses.

This has been a real eye openener for us!

Remember, we were originally told we’d be here for 3-5 days… well, it could be much longer than 3-5 weeks before this ranch reaches the point where they no longer need a gate guard on duty. Works for us!

The biggest thing we can all do is say a prayer for is the safety of the brave workers on these rigs. Today we heard what one of the dangers could have been to those guys at this well. It can be a dangerous job to be sure. We are also thankful we are a safe distance from these well heads.

This is a very interesting job and we are enjoying a ring-side seat! I do have to say though, that we are starting to feel a bit like Pavlov’s dog. I just heard an elevator ring on TV and put my jacket on and grabbed the clipboard only to discover there was no one out¬†there. Oh yes, it was the TV show. Last week the San Antonio RV Show was being advertised and everytime it came on they honked a horn loudly. That horn always made me jump up and look out the window. Soon Bob was doing it too. Gesh!

Till next time,

Vicky

 

From the wellhead to the burner… the process…

I just saw in my comments that some of my followers are eager to know more about the process. Our well (two wells) are just entering the fracing stage and it is very interesting. I had about a 20-25 vehicle convoy come in yesterday morning. And this is just the beginning.

Go to http://www.naturalgas.org/naturalgas/naturalgas.asp¬†to learn more about the whole process of getting to the natural gas… getting it out of the shale formations… and getting it to consumers. It’s a very interesting site with great videos pictures. There’s a great section on hydraulic fracturing I particularly found interesting.

http://www.naturalgas.org/shale/shaleshock.asp (for fracturing)

I hope this is helpful to everyone. I found it fascinating and now I know what is going on. I don’t feel like I’m in the dark (so to speak) ūüėÄ

Till next time,

Vicky

Let the games begin!

All set up at our first gate

We’ve now been at our first gate for a week & 1/2. I will get some daytime pictures tomorrow hopefully. Bob is putting up our satellite dish here. Can’t wait till we can get a roof mounted unit. We have the original King Dome on top of the Silver Bullet, but it’s 2004 technology and if we use it we can’t get HD or use our DVR… that’s not an option. We’re saving up for the roof-mounted dish!

Murphy is the oil company we’re working for and they are wonderful. Our first night here they brought a generator powered light tower. Since we have a 75′ walk from our front door to the gate, the extra light is very much appreciated!
What a great gift while we are here in the middle of nowhere!

They also let us take our trash to their trash trailer and give us 5-gallon water jugs when we need them. Truly great guys to work for.

We met our ranch owner our first day here and he was very nice also. Gave us his cell phone number and told us if we need anything, call him 24/7… We’re off to a great start.
We are guarding the gate for two wells at this location. Both have been drilled, now the fracing begins. Thankfully, we’ve had the last week and 1/2 to get ourselves acclimated to working and sleeping in different shifts. We are both liking this new adventure. It was indeed time for a change!
Last night was the quiet before the storm. At 7:15 am today my first fracing truck arrived and when I looked up from my clipboard I had a line up of rigs as far back as I could see. Every time I looked up to see if I could see an end, it kept getting longer and longer and longer. I had a good system going so I could process them quickly. At times I’d hear an airhorn go off. I asked a couple of drivers why they were honking. They grinned and said, “They are messing with you.” I asked a couple of drivers if they had a hole in the fence somewhere and were going out and getting back in line… it was absolutely endless!!! They liked that one ūüėÄ
We are having fun meeting all of these really nice people. We joke, we laugh, and they do like to mess with me. I’ve had three of them now, all with complex Mexican names give me their first name & last name, then they rattle off a string of names as their “last name.” Then they split a gut laughing. I’m on to it now!
We have our CB radio turned on so we hear what the guys are saying when they are approaching the gate. Remember, we are about 8.5 miles from the main gate and there are many gates off to the side on the way to ours. One trucker tonight told us he was instructed to go until he got to the big bus. I heard another one say on his radio, “Yeah… they said to just keep going till you see the big Winnebago.” Our bus is a Travel Supreme,¬†not a Winnebago, but they must use that term for motorhomes like they use Coke for soda here in Texas. Add that to your list Debbie ūüėÄ
Fracing on well #1 is due to start next week, and then on well #2 after #1 is done. This job was originally a 3-5 day job. Looks like it will be 4-6 more weeks at this point. Where did the first estimate come from??? After this job is finished, we will need to go get a few maintenance items taken care of and a warranty repair on our dishwasher. When we started up the GGS generator, I think it blew my circuit board (from now on we’ll throw the breaker for the dishwasher before we start the generator). We really miss it too! At least the washer/dryer is working. I’d hate to travel that service road every week to go do laundry!
It’s a good gate and we are grateful to have it as our first job. Postings may get slow over the next few weeks since the company man says we will be very busy with round-the-clock traffic during the fracing process.
Hope everyone else is having a good time at their gates. It’s not a bad way to add extra $$$ to the pocketbook!
Till next time,
Vicky

Must be the calm before the storm…

The good news, it’s not raining! Of course, that’s bad news for Texas, especially south Texas. This is supposed to be our rainy season so dry weather now does not bode well for this summer. I sure hope we don’t have another scorcher this summer.

Last year was also bad for RV air conditioners. We were in and out of the shop last summer with breakers tripping for the A/C units. We have three roof units and it was a stress on two of the units in particular. I’ve read in forums that we were not the only ones having A/C problems in the extreme heat.

We had the whole electrical system checked out and no problems found and we still kept tripping breakers in the triple digit heat. We even started propping the breaker panel doors open to keep the cool air blowing on them. It was a miserable, hot & dry summer indeed.

Now for the ranch… all was calm last night and and is tonight. I know it won’t last, but while I’m building my nocturnal courage (not for lions, tigers & bears but for coyotes, wild pigs & crawling things) it’s good to have the calm.

I gave myself a scare last night. Our company man said it would probably be quiet all night. So, since I’m getting acclimated to working nights and sleeping days, I got pretty drowsy around 4:00 am and took a nap.¬†Two hours later I woke up and looked out at the gate and my mind played a trick on me. I thought the gate was wide open!!! A big no-no‚Ķ¬†

I went to get Bob up. I told him I fell asleep and someone went out the gate and left it wide open and since NO ONE was out there I just could not get myself to¬†go out alone (I’m working on my nocturnal fear remember). Now our front door to the gate is about 60+ feet and we have to open and shut the gate at all times. It’s well lit, but not right outside the door for sure. So he got up and got dressed (thankfully it was 6:30 and he had about 7 hours of sleep by then). I went to the bathroom and when I came out he informed me that the gate was still locked.

I looked out and sure enough, he was right. The way the gate is made caused me to think it was open in my blur of waking up. I said a prayer of thanks. Since this is a hunting ranch I want to make sure and do a good job for the ranch owner. He’s a very nice man.

Tonight I’ve sworn off taking any naps. I’m keeping a watchful eye. I’ve learned my lesson!

Happy New Year everyone!

Vicky