Life as a falconer, insect systematist, and double Masters Student (or a look into the mind of someone who is questionably sane).

25 July 2006

Since my last rambling ive swapped out traps again, released birds, changed a tire, and in general fulfilled my motto: Never a Dull Moment with the P-fund. Traps went well, met Lauren in Valentine and took my truck to daves. The traps were pretty good looking and had quite a few bugs including a bunch of hoppers. Back in Valentine we hung around the house and looked through old issues of American Falconry until it was time to go back to our respective sites. Work was uneventful, the young birds look ready for release tomorrow. Back at the otel we cordinated the release plans and that sort of thing. I also got the final abstract submitted for ESA, so I can finally check something off my list. We got to sleep in until 7! very exciting. When we arrived at the site however I saw 4 head of cows in the road and an aditional 25 head on the ridgeline maybe 300yrds from the site. As soon as they saw the truck they took of running, not a good sign. Pretty soon we discovered the cause of the problem- the cows had gone nocturnal and overnight had demolished our electric fence. Every single connecter was snapped, the solar charger piece was hanging upside down, and the ground cable was broken. I fixed up the solar deal with some creative wiring and used my leatherman (this has got to be the most useful tool ever) to widen a couple holes to string it up since the orignal ones were unusuable. The ground was easy to fix (also with the leatherman), but the connecters were going to be a problem. We only had 2 extras and were going to need about 5. So I decided to get the tower ready for release and deal with the connecters when Chrissy got to the site. She didn't have any with her either, but a quick trip to town (hour long affair) solved that issue. Finished up tower and bird prep then opened the box. Birds were fast to come out for the most part, but no fledges before I left to meet Chrissy and Lauren for lunch in Van Horn. Lunch was very productive and after it Lauren came back with me to the site. I got a phone call from her as i got to the site saying she had a flat. So i reversed a couple miles and as i got to about 1o0 ft away could actually hear the air coming out even with my truck on. Not a good sign. She apparently hit the embakement making a turn and there were a ton of rocks jammed between the rim and the tire. So I grabbed a screwdriver and was able to wiggle it around a bit popping out the rocks so the tire could seal back up. She followed me back to the site so we could change the tire. Both katie and I have changed tires on the beast (the p-fund truck ive been driving for the last couple seasons) more time then wed like to remember. So she and i started working on that while lauren watched our birds. It was one problem after another. Getting the tire down wasnt too bad once we got the various pieces lined up properly. But then we realized the lug nuts werent all the same size. No big deal, Lauren had a socket bit that fit the odd nut. Only issue was the normal lug nuts were not the size of the lug wrench. After messing with it for a while I realized they looked the same size as the ones on the beast. Sure enough the p-fund lug wrench worked. Typical, toyota wrench didnt work on the toyota truck but the ford wrench would. Jacking up the truck went pretty easily, except the jack seemed to stick once we got it up to just a little higher than the bottom of the truck. We pulled all the lug nuts off and then went to take the tire off. Only issue was that when lauren parked her truck the wheel in quesiton was on burried rock and also the lowest spot of the vehicle. Didnt help that the jack point was also over a depresssion. We put a second jack down and started to dig out the tire. After going down 6 inches and hacking apart a rock we managed to pull the tire off. Then we tried to put the spare on. Turned out we needed to enlarge the hole another inch or 2 and then success, tire back on. It only took us 2.5 hrs, about 10 times longer than it normally takes us. Keep in mind it was 105 degrees in the shade and this all occured in the sun, believe me good times. By this time lauren had to go back to her site so she took the beast and we held on to her truck. Never a dull moment, i think thats the modo for this sesaon.

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