Back in the saddle again…

I know it’s been a spell since I updated my blog, but I’ve been busy on a couple of fronts.

First, we got pretty slow a couple of weeks ago and I think I was driving poor Bob crazy with my cabin fever. He eagerly suggested I go visit my daughter and three granddaughters who live in Teague, Texas. After all, we had not seen them since mid December. Lily is now almost 18 months old and Katelyn (5 1/2 years) had another ear infection and was very sick and wanting her Nana. Who could say no to that?

Also, my little fawn colored Chihuahua, Capt. Jack, developed epilepsy and was having seizures more frequently. We called the vet in a nearby town, but they just don’t seem to have time for our little pets. They have a lot of country to cover regarding ranch animals. I decided to take Jack to his regular vet in Mexia, Texas.

After a seizure Jack was shaking a lot, so I wrapped him up tightly in a receiving blanket and put him on the couch. He calmed down and fell asleep. (This was before we got him on meds)

Bobbi, Kate, & Lily with me at the Subway inside the Walmart store in Mexia.

While in Teague, Katelyn made a visit to the ER at 4:30 am Saturday night with severe ear pain and fever. The following Tuesday Bobbi (my daughter) took her to her ENT (ear, nose & throat doc) in Waco and he scheduled her for tubes in her ears (this makes the third time) for the follow Monday. She failed her hearing test. They said she had the hearing of a 90-year-old person.

Katelyn--we call her our little Pixie because she reminds us of Tinkerbell spreading pixie dust all over, wherever she goes 🙂

I know when I was there if you were not looking at her she could not tell you were talking and she had Sponge Bob blaring on the TV. She has gotten quite good at lip reading and her big sister, Corynn, is teaching her sign language. Thankfully, they do expect her hearing will return to normal after she gets her tubes in.

Space saving 48-can collapsible cooler for hauling perishables home during the extreme summer heat. Folds up flat for easy storage.

While I was back home, I found this cooler that is perfect for the RV in the upcoming summer season. As we all know, Texas is hot and down here in south Texas it is about as bad as it gets. Right now, with our remote location, getting to Cotulla is over an hour and a quarter drive. I go to Super S in Cotulla for many things, but meat is not one of them. To get good meat (not the pastured kind I would like to get but better than Super S has available) I must travel to the Pearsall HEB, which is another good jaunt away. So, while I was back home I stocked up on meats at the HEB store in Mexia. I put them in the deep freezer at Bobbi’s house and packed it all in this wonderful cooler bag for the trip home. To my surprise, not one thing came close to defrosting on the 7.5 hour trip home.

I even stopped at the DQ in Cotulla and picked up a blizzard for Bob and one for me to enjoy when I got back to the ranch. The blizzards were perfectly frozen when I arrived at the rig. Wow… this will be very handy this summer!

As for Jack, the vet put him on Primidone and that night he had a grand mal seizure. It was heartbreaking to see this happen to my little fellow. The next day I requested the Vet put him on Phenobarbital and he did. I’m happy to say Jack is not having any more seizures. He’s a bit sleepier than he used to be, but no seizures!

Sunrise over the workover rig at Well #2. They are getting the production string, tank battery, gas separators, and driers all installed.

Last Monday, while I was gone, Bob called me and said our gate was getting very busy so I better get back. Tuesday morning Jack & I headed back to the ranch. We are now back on two shifts and steadily busy. They are installing the finishing pipeline touches and the permanent tank battery, driers & separators.

Moving the living quarters from Well #2 to Well #1. They move these mobile homes around like they were mere travel trailers. Sometimes it's a tight fit but they make it with ease!

Two mobile homes were brought in to house the workers and we have a company man on the premisis again. Today they moved the mobile homes from Well #2 to Well #1. And yes, the caliche dust was thick around here today.

We just found out from the company man that our 3-month long “3-day” job will probably end by next Friday. They’ll likely be all done by Wednesday and begin moving stuff out and cleaning up. So Friday will most likely be our release date. I can truly say we are ready.

Being back near civilization last week was so nice. Shopping, restaurants, vets… it was nice. And to actually be able to go out and buy things I wanted instead of mail order was a treat indeed!

We will take some time off and we will come back. I truly have appreciated the ACE Hardware store in Cotulla. They graciously allow us gate guards to have our mail order packages delivered to their store free of charge. They even call us to let us know our packages are there. I don’t know what I would have done without this service. We use online ordering to get a big majority of things we eat and use and we do so regularly.

Are there other places that let gate guards to do this? If so, please send me the information and I’ll list it all on a new page in this blog so all gate guards will know where they can have packages sent to via UPS or FedEx.

New update: Now that our twin gate neighbors are gone and activity at night is light, the coyotes are back and howling. I forgot just how much they unnerve me! Thankfully we have not seen any snakes. Although we did buy snake guards to wear. If we see snakes, we will put on the snake guards… count on it!

If anyone has a pet with epilepsy, I’d love to hear how you deal with it. What medications do you think work best? Is your pet on more than one medication? Are they living seizure free or close to it? This is all new to me and I want to give Jack the best quality of life possible. He’s only 4 1/2 years old and he should have many good years ahead. Thanks for your input!

Keep cool 🙂

Till next time,

Vicky

We’ll be here till the “Pigs” come home…

Wait a minute… I think that phrase is supposed to be “till the cows come home…” But in our case, it will be the pigs.

No, I’m not talking about Javalinas or wild boars. I’m talking about pigs that slink their way through pipelines. Pipeline Pigs.

How a pipe pig cleans the pipe.

Pipe Pigs come in many sizes.

Pipeline Pigs perform a very valuable service… they clean pipelines. In our case, they pressure tested the pipeline by filling it with water and pressuring it up. Since they don’t want water in the pipeline for corrosion purposes, they must use pigs to dry the pipe out on the inside.

In our small pipeline, they used water from two 80-barrel pump/vacuum trucks to do the pressure test. I wonder where all that water went when they emptied the pipe? Guess we’ll never know…

For our pipeline, they will bring in two pigs. Pig #1 will do the first drying job. Pig #2 will make sure the pipe is thoroughly dry and ready for the gas to flow through it.

Next, they will be bringing in heaters, separators, and dryers. And eventually… a tank battery to each well. We will be here for everything except the tank battery… we think. As most of you all know, as gate guards we don’t always know what is going on or how long we will be here until they come to the door and tell you–Time to go. Adios!

The CM’s best bet is 2-4 more weeks and then we will PROBABLY be gone. There is a silver lining to this being stuck out here in this remote brush country… we are not very busy now.

I have a question I’d like an answer to… it’s a frac question…

Why are some frac jobs insanely busy while others are not all that busy? I’d like to hear input on this.

Till next time,

Vicky

Mystery solved!

Thank you everyone for your input on our mystery bird.

Mystery Bird sitting outside our rig. Compare to the picture below of the Great Kiskadee...

I sent this mystery picture to my sister, who is a real nature nut, and she confirmed it looked like a Great Kiskadee. This bird pretty much starts out in the bottom of Texas (around here) and goes down through parts of Mexico and much of Central America.

Here is a link you can use to learn more information about the Great Kiskadee. It is a member of the Flycatcher family. Yesterday I observed one of them sitting on the fence about 25 feet from our rig (in the rain). Probably looking for food stirred up by the wet ground.

Till next time,

Vicky

5 Ways you can add enjoyment to your gate guarding experience…

Sunrise in March at the Ranch... what a sight!

As our first gate guarding job draws to a close (don’t know exactly what day that will be yet… but it should be some time this month), I’ve been reflecting on our experience.

Both Bob and I like this job. We like it a lot better than creating guest guides for RV parks which we did for the last three years. That was a high pressure job with deadlines and sales quotas. Plus, since we were traveling all over the country, we poured quite a bit of our sales commissions into our car’s gas tank and into the Silver Bullet’s diesel tank. And with fuel prices being what they are, one word describes it perfectly–OUCH!

Now that the dust is settling and we are in the pipeline phase we are really enjoying our time out here in the middle of nowhere.

We got to see a mulching machine, actually it’s a hungry tree and cactus eater that pulverizes everything in its path. It crept its way along the dense undergrowth and cleared a crude path for the dozer to pick up on and clear even better.

The final phase of our first job... The munching Mulcher chewing a crude path for the pipeline crew.

These pipeliners are a humorous lot. They seem to enjoy what they do and have a great sense of humor. We have a couple of jokersters who like to mess with us by pulling up to the bell-dinging lines and pulling across, backing up, and doing this over & over when they come in the morning and leave at night… so our bell keeps ringing. Hey, it lightens things up for all of us 🙂 There’s another nice thing as we approach the end of this job–we get to work a 12-hour shift. That means I get to sleep at night along side my hubby. Life is good indeed 😀

A pipeline survey marker in the Texas back country desert jungle. The Silver Bullet is in the background.

So here are the five things I feel will help keep gate guarding more enjoyable (and will keep us happier and make us more friendly to those who come through our gates. Win-Win!

  1. Stay loose and just relax. Even in the busiest of times at the gate… this too shall pass.
  2. Stay in touch with family, friends, and other gate guards. Some great ways to do this are… Facebook… SKYPE (or facetime on smartphones)… email.ing.. texting… online gaming… read blogs and possibly write one of your own. Everyone of them says something different and unique!
  3. Tune into what makes you happy–like hobbies… Reading (I love my color Nook)… Wii Fit Plus (my space-friendly workout center in the RV)… watching movies… writing/blogging… surfing online… working jigsaw puzzles (or Sudoku, crosswords, circle a word–on my Nook I love to play Scrabble. When I don’t have anyone to play with I play against myself as three other people–I’m very competitive 🙂 ) Mainly, do anything that stimulates your brain and do it every day to keep all of your synapses firing!
  4. Get enough sleep. 7-8 hours all at one time is a must to stay healthy and keep your energy levels high.
  5. Laugh. Every chance you get! 🙂

Path cleared, pipe arrived, next step--weld pipe and dig hole.

Pipeliners hard at work welding, x-raying welds, and laying the pipe in the hole.

And for the grand finale... filling in the pipeline trench!

This concludes my tour of our final days on our first gate guarding job. We love working for this oil company and this is a good ranch to work on. Owner is a great guy. I just wish the 9.2 mile road was a bit easier to travel… dream on.

Oh, by the way, this bird has a yellow belly and a white halo around his head. If you know what kind of bird this is, please leave me a comment and let me know. I’ve tried to search online and can’t seem to find out what this is. Thanks!

What kind of bird is this? As soon as I find out, I'll update this caption. I hope someone can tell me what this is 😀

Till next time,

Vicky