Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New Skills

We have learned so much this week! We have developed skills with equipment we have not used in the past. These experiences are what make volunteering such a rich experience.

On Monday we went with Aimee to divert more water down a ditch that feeds ponds in the south part of the wildlife area. Through the years we have seen farmers and ranchers using tarps to direct water into their fields. We were able to see how Aimee did that. There was a small pond created to allow water to go into the wildlife area's ditch when the ditch gate is opened. That pond wasn't sending enough water down the ditch, so Aimee cut a 2 x 6 board to the correct length and set it in a slot at the top of the pond dam.

She and John then put a tarp over that dam to keep the board in place. This created a deeper pond and the ditch volume increased significantly. Now we know how that is done.

Next we met Ed and the four of us set out to repair a gate and fence. We tore down the old poles and barbed wire fence and gate. While Ed stretched straight wire and barbed wire to build the fence on either side of the gate, John and Aimee rebuilt the gate with smooth wire.

We learned a little about stringing a fence. We also learned that smooth wire is used as the bottom wire on fences around the wildlife area to enable deer to safely go under the fence without cutting their ears. The upper strands are barbed wire to hopefully keep the cattle from going through or over the fence.

Our last task was to remove irrigation pipe from two alfalfa fields so the fields could be harvested. The large pipes—2 1/2 and 4 inches in diameter—are not difficult to separate and move. The hardest part was to find them in the three foot high alfalfa. Which, by the way, really smells good.

On Tuesday we assembled two sign boards like the one we installed two weeks ago. For me, especially, this was a great learning experience. For the first time I used a table saw,

a hand-held saw,

and a chisel.

I also got pretty good at inserting screws, using a variable-speed drill.

These experiences give us the confidence we need to build something on our own. We just have to decide what it will be before we return to our house in Colorado.

Today we learned to use a hand jack to remove large wooden poles from the ground. We pulled out the old sign at one of the wildlife area entrances so we can install the sign boards we built yesterday.

We are gaining more and more respect and understanding for the work farmers and ranchers do. It's a great experience.

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