Wow, what a week! The dragonflies are out in force, gobbling up blackflies, mosquitos and deerflies by the thousands. Vehicles broke down -I know, surprising turn of events. And there was a heist on the block! Interested in the week yet? Read on!
Let's start with vehicles again. This time it was a bus tire that blew out from under us on the highway while we were doing 80 km/h. As a bus driver I was eerily calm: the huge bang and palpable lurch I assumed was merely the back of the bus falling off. Some of the planters were frightened half to death. BOTH of Krazy Katie's armpits started itching, a phenomenon that only occurs when she is really scared, so it must have been quite the traumatic experience sitting over the wheel-well when the tire went. But no long term damage: the tire was replaced and the bus back on the road the next day.
It seems we're missing part of something....
Sheppers still makes it out to the block on occassion (although most of her time is spent keeping the couch in the office trailer back in camp from floating away!). In the cut there's not a lot of shelter from the sun for a black dog so she has taken to hiding from the bugs and the sun under the Silvacool tarps (tm) that we use to keep our seedlings cool. What a smart dog!
Sheppers hides from the bugs and the heat in her tarp lair.
Our old friend Bind Weed is back! Last season we planted entire unscarified blocks that were completely smothered by this tangled plant, making planting and walking for that matter extremely difficult. This year at least there are furrows cutting between the webs of Bind Weed, so it's not much of an obstruction. In fact since it has ceased to be such a nuissance I must say that it's beginning to grow on me (figuratively, of course). It's quite the attractive plant, with red vines, dark green leaves and pretty greenish-yellow flowers. Plus, it seems to grow up anything in both sun and shade, and it seems to thrive in the extreme climate of Chapleau. I think I've found a decorative vine for that house I'll build one day....Black Fringed Bind Weed: don't get snared!
Helping to supress those pesky bugs is the frog population, augmented throughout the season by millions of tadpoles. Every puddle in the cut seems to teem with life this time of year. I guess since I keep my eyes on the ground looking at trees all day I'd be inclined to notice these sort of things....Hurry up and turn into frogs already! We need some bug populations to crash!
Of course the biggest bug suppression force in the bush this week were the fleets and fleets of dragonflies. Each dragonfly supposedly eats several times its own weight in blackflies, mosquitos and deer flies, and their impact on the bugs on the block is obvious.A dragonfly takes a break from feasting to examine a planter's safety vest.
Let's play a game. Let's call it "Good Idea, Bad Idea". Let me give you a situation: you want to get out of your lot quickly to bag up more trees and make lots of money, but there is a swath of three-foot-deep puddle in your way. Now's your chance to play: tell me, is it a good idea, or a bad idea to try and jump it?
Don't do it Wittmer! You don't know what's down there!
The block we're planting next has really bad access, which will require all the planters to walk in about four kilometers. They can hardly carry all the trees in with them, so the decision was made to bring in tree by helicopter and then shuffle them about with a quad. Someone was needed on the block to direct the helicopter and reattach the Lanyer hook after the tree drops, so I volunteered my day off to help out.
The trees are collected into a net that is slung over on a long line under the helicopter.
Here is the quad I rode all day. The road inside the block was in very good condition, making my rides quite enjoyable. Somedays this job is just plain awesome!I can't believe their actually PAYING me for this!
So guess who scored a ride in the helicopter? Very fun!
The bush sure looks different from up above....
The clear cut sticks out from the bush like a sore thumb. This is actually our staging area, where we assembled the trees for lifting to the bad access block.
The block lies nestled in the uncut wilderness.
I didn't take as many pictures this week as I would have liked, so the rest of this weeks page is just a last minute montage of my crew with succinct biographical information. In alphabetical order, I give you the Rabid Sasquatch Commandos of Chapleau 2006.
NAME: ANNA "CHAMP" ANDREJWSKI
RANK: 2ND YEAR VET
SHOVEL NAME: DUFFY
PLANTING PLUSSES: Bagging up and up and up!
PLANTING PEEVES: Falling Down, Pissy McGee
PLANTING MOTTO: "You HAVE to listen to this inspirational speech!"
NAME: MEGAN "SPARTA" BURNS
SHOVEL NAME: WILLIAM WALLACE
PLANTING PLUSSES: Black Muck
PLANTING PEEVES: Duff Shots
PLANTING MOTTO: "Plant it all and let God sort it out."
NAME: AMBER "SUNSHINE" COOK
SHOVEL NAME: FLARE
PLANTING PLUSSES: It's not Burger King
PLANTING PEEVES: Road Slutters
PLANTING MOTTO: "Do you want flies with that?"
NAME: SHANNON "FLESH" DE HANN
SHOVEL NAME: SHAMUS
PLANTING PLUSSES: Dragonflies
PLANTING PEEVES: Planting
PLANTING MOTTO: "Green side up!"
NAME: SHANE "GIVER" KAVANAGH
RANK: 2ND YEAR VET
SHOVEL NAME: BLITZKRIEG
PLANTING PLUSSES: 100K or bust
PLANTING PEEVES: Replanting
PLANTING MOTTO: "This is horse shit, Al! Horse shit!"
NAME: "KRAZY" KATIE KNIGHT
RANK: 2ND YEAR ROOKIE
SHOVEL NAME: THOR
PLANTING PLUSSES: Tree Handlers
PLANTING PEEVES: Waka Waka Waka!
PLANTING MOTTO: "What's a little more?"
NAME: BRANDON "C-BASS" MORRIS
RANK: 3RD YEAR VET
SHOVEL NAME: BEER TITS
PLANTING PLUSSES: Cache Naps
PLANTING PEEVES: Inclement Weather
PLANTING MOTTO: "Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"
NAME: MARK "LEFTY" RYAN
SHOVEL NAME: UHO
PLANTING PLUSSES: Road Slutting
PLANTING PEEVES: Hard Roads
PLANTING MOTTO: "I only plant money trees."
NAME: LUKE "GLOBAL" STEWART
SHOVEL NAME: DARK STAR
PLANTING PLUSSES: It starts with a 'J' and ends with a 'J'
PLANTING PEEVES: Being Creamed Out
PLANTING MOTTO: "I think this day has just about done me in."
NAME: DEREK "GANDALF" VAN DAMM
SHOVEL NAME: GLAMDRING II
PLANTING PLUSSES: Singing Time
PLANTING PEEVES: Phantom Furrows
PLANTING MOTTO: "Words are cheap. I prefer to communicate through the medium of purple nurples."
NAME: ALEX "BOSS" VAN DER WIJST
RANK: CREW BOSS
SHOVELS' NAMES: EXCALIBUR & SPYROS
PLANTING PLUSSES: Ponche Pack, Head Sock Tan
PLANTING PEEVES: Missed Spots
PLANTING MOTTO: "E pluribus arbori."
NAME: THOMAS "T" VAN DER WIJST
RANK: 5TH YEAR VET
SHOVELS' NAMES: TELEVISION & RADIO
PLANTING PLUSSES: Yelling, Defending Turf, Scaring Rookies
PLANTING PEEVES: Change
PLANTING MOTTO: "Get the FUCK out of my land!"
NAME: JOSIE "BLACK SPRUCE BANDIT" WITTMER
SHOVEL NAME: TRON
PLANTING PLUSSES: Black Spruce Swamps & Enchanted Forests
PLANTING PEEVES: Treelot Phantoms
PLANTING MOTTO: "Oh. Good."
What a crazy looking bunch, eh? Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of the Rabid Sasquatch Commandos!