Friday, November 21, 2014

Highway And Home-Front (w/pics)

It’s been a mixed bag this week, as far as good and bad experiences at work. It was nice to spend Monday afternoon with the dog and my wife, but it really hurts to have that much money missing from my pay, since it cost me overtime. I can only imagine how tight things will get when we go to 40 hours or less this winter.

Despite being a “southern truck” (no block heater), my work truck has been starting even with the 16 degree mornings we’ve been having. When I think of all the diesels that don’t want to start in people’s driveways, I think that quality must be lacking in them. Interestingly enough, some of those vehicles are made by Mercedes, but the engine in my Mack is also made by them.

I saw a new pad (oil/gas well site) this week and enjoyed some of the experience. The view from “Maddie Mae,” (Yup, that’s what the oil company named it!) was as nice as any hilltop vista in the countryside, with farmland in the valley and forestland on the hills. I hadn’t driven across a low-water bridge for a while (a type of manmade ford, actually), but did the first day that I delivered there. It was made of oak timbers submerged in the stream and was none too wide for the size of trucks using it. The second day, though, they had the new concrete bridge completed.

The climb up the switch-backed gravel road was all the truck wanted to do with 21 tons on my little tri-axle, and steep enough that I put both rear axles in gear and in positive traction, though they call it something else these days. Coming down was the “hairy” part, of course, since it allowed you to see the imminent death awaiting you if you lost control. The hardest thing for most folks to learn is to quit braking and even maybe give your vehicle some “gas” if your wheels start skidding downhill. That allows the tires to regain traction; then you can start braking again SLOWLY. I learned that from watching it up-close and personal on the farm, driving farm tractors in slick weather.

Decking sections, waiting to be installed on Maddie Mae.

A closer view of the decking sections. They're probably about six inches thick, and appear to be oak, surrounded by steel. They place them as tight as floor tiles on a bed of crushed limestone.

With all of the oil and gas activity in the region, rent prices are skyrocketing. That’s good for the landlords, but bad for the working poor who aren’t making big bucks in the oilfield. Even the campgrounds, normally only in heavy use from Memorial Day through hunting season, are staying pretty full, with some workers trying to save money by going “rustic.” Unfortunately for them, I’ve heard of some lots with full hook-up going for $800 A MONTH!

My concern for the working poor, which is MOST of us these days, also includes the homeless. It really gets me to see houses and cabins going to pot, while some families live on the street, or in their cars. I realize that some people would tear up a concrete bungalow, but not everyone. Below is a nice little house going to pot not far from Pennsboro, West Virginia. It’s small, but you can tell that it was nice at one time, and could be again, if someone would catch it before things go any further.

The little house isn't easy to see as you approach it, despite being right by Rt. # 74 heading north from town.

View out my window as I pass (literally taken on the move, as I had a car behind me).

At my own home, the weather and my work hours have discouraged me from getting some corn fodder put on my compost pile. My wife had some for making wreaths, which didn’t pan out due to mold, and had put the pieces in a garbage bag on the porch. A couple days ago, she found crows on the porch sorting through the corn looking for any remaining ears. I guess I should give any corn to them; life probably ain’t easy for a crow. I suspect they’d learned elsewhere that garbage bags can contain food (since we never put trash out except in cans), saw the bag and reasoned there might be food there. Ironically, they were right! I hope they don’t start hanging out here TOO much, they can be awfully noisy.

Well, I think I hear the living room floor calling my name, so I better go. I hope you folks had an good week! © 2014


Fredd said...

"Life probably ain't easy for a crow." Seems to me they have it made, Gorges: get up in the morning, squawk some. Then scrounge around for some breakfast left by others, sqawk some more. Then repeat through much of the day. Much like some liberals I know: living on the efforts of others.

M. Silvius said...

Don't much care for the crows. Over here they have taken to tearing up the neighborhood lawns yanking tufts of grass roots and all. I think they are looking for grubs. In a few minutes just two of them will have a 10x10 foot patch looking like hogs rooted through it. And when they gang up it is truly a frightening thing as they egg each other on and get real rowdy. Not long ago we witnessed a murder of crows that must have numbered 10 thousand take over a hillside and blacken the sky. The noise was deafening and the devastation they left behind was like nothing I have seen before.

Gorges Smythe said...

Gentlemen, I guess there's multiple views for every subject! lol

Chickenmom said...

Interesting pics - hope you can take more as it progresses. Shame about the houses - we have a lot of them around here too. A little fixing up and they would be great starter homes for young couples.

Ralph Goff said...

Our crows are smarter than us and head south to avoid the winter. Their bigger relatives, the ravens, are here year round and are wonderful scavengers.

Gorges Smythe said...

I don't know if I'll be back in time, Cm. As for the houses, I suspect it's the same all over.

I thought I saw a couple ravens many years ago, but we don't seem to have them around here, Ralph.