Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ranching is a nursery rhyme?

Today I felt like I was part of a nursery rhyme - specifically "There was an old lady who swallowed a Fly".  You know how it goes, right?

Well, here was today's version at NoDak Herefords  (minus the rhyme since I don't have that talent) ...

There was a herd of Herefords who were ready to move to the next pasture...

It was easy to move them.  Mark just had to open the gate and they eagerly moved to this pasture with grass up past their bellies and water almost everywhere!

The trouble was - the fence needed to be repaired to hold them in.  (We don't know why they would need out with all of this grass, but history tells us they will!)  We have had so much rain this spring that we are unable to drive around this pasture with our usual fencing pickup.  We also use our 4 wheeler for that job and have rigged it up to haul a roll of barbed wire along with a basket to hold supplies such as fencing staples and clips.  So, today Mark took off with the 4 wheeler to fence.  Brett used the loader tractor to haul fence posts and installed a few of them.  I was "on call" should they need extra help.

I don't know why he thought he could drive through this area ...  (guess he thought he could float)

Notice how the cows are in the background keeping an eye on him.
 So, he called Brett to bring the tractor to pull him out.  Brett in turned called me to bring out chain, rope and other "pulling out" supplies.  I met Brett along a prairie trail to get the supplies to him.  He took off across the field.  I noticed him spinning but he kept going, got on the trail and found a sodded area to travel on.  He got down to his Dad's location and got everything ready to pull when, oops...
guess it was a little wet there too!  Could it be because he was just on the edge of the same slough as his father?!

Sunk axle deep and spinning.  They had to call me again to bring a bigger tractor. 

I don't have a photo of the set up with the bigger tractor so I will explain.   The cattle are still watching this operation!  The 4 wheeler is tied to the loader tractor.  The loader tractor is tied to the big tractor.  Mark was stranded on the 4 wheeler (since he was surrounded by water).  I drove the loader tractor and Brett pulled all of us out with the big tractor.  What a sight!
SO, we drove the big tractor to pull the loader tractor to pull the 4 wheeler.  I don't know why the 4 wheeler thought it could get through the water.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Andy gets to go to the Park (Week 24/52)

Remember when Raggedy Andy was dreaming of summer?  Well, we finally had some nice weather so off we went!

Andy the Pilot

It looks like a long ways to go.

Down the twisty slide

It was a fun visit to the park in our little town.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Tour the Bakken

I had an educational opportunity yesterday.  I went on a bus tour of the Bakken.  The Bakken is a large (HUGE) oil field under the western third of North Dakota, into Montana and South Dakota and up into Canada.  It is thought that there is more oil in the Bakken oilfield than in the oilfield in Alaska and possibly nearly as much as in the Mideast! 

Our family lives on what is currently thought to be the east edge.  Just outside of the production area for now.  I have always said that we live on the right side of the line of the Bakken - the outside!  You see the roads and traffic are horrible.  The paved roads are beat up (broken pavement) due to heavy trucks as are the gravel roads.  The gravel roads are currently having the additional problem of water to make them soft.  There is a shortage of housing for all of the people who have come here for employment and a shortage of everything else needed for an influx of people.  Some of the cities in the Bakken region have doubled or tripled in size in just 2-3 years.  It really is quite a mess.  If everyone could be patient for a few years things should all work out - but until then...

We started our tour at Powers Lake. We drove to see a completed well sight.  Our tour guide, Mr. Enerson, told us about the development of that particular site and of the next one we saw.  He is mineral interest in these two locations.  The second site was just getting set up.  They were drilling the first well but this site will have four when completed.  Each oil well has a name & number.  Mr. & Mrs. Enerson got to name the four wells on this site.  Since they have four children one well is named for each child!

From these two sites we took a few gravel roads to Ross, ND.  At Ross we looked at a Frac Sand unloading area.  The sand comes in railroad cars and is loaded into semi trailers or large bags to go to each well site.  Frac Sand is used in the well prep process.  It is a special type of sand with very small particles.  This sand is mixed with water and, using high pressure, forced down into the hole that was bored and cracks the soil to release the oil. 

From Ross, we made a quick stop in Stanley for a little break.  We then drove to Tioga to a crew camp.

One way some of the housing shortage has been dealt with is by the creation of "man camps".  Well, that is what the locals call them.  During our tour we visited one camp, Capital Lodge Crew Camp.  Crew Camp is what the industry prefers we call them.  We had our noon meal there in the main hall. The main hall has many TVs and couches, pool tables, air hockey tables and other activities to help occupy the residents in their down time.  We also toured one of the housing buildings.   Here is a look at some of them.  Currently there are 120 of these buildings.
You see here that these buildings are basically double wide trailers.  Each of them has seven bedrooms, a common area to sit and a laundry room.  Each bedroom has two beds, a TV and a bathroom.  There are currently 120 of these structures at this site.  They plan to add more.  When this camp is full it will be the 14th largest city in North Dakota!  Most of the trailers are lived in by men. A few are for couples and a few are for women only. Residents need two keys - one for the outside door and one for their room. There are security cameras at each end of the building (in the hallway).  Companies rent rooms here for $116/night.  This fee includes three meals per day (one is packed for the worker to take to work).  We visited with the chef.  He told us they prepare three different meats for each meal and never use the same recipe in a 28 day stretch!  Gee, he should have shared that menu and the recipes! 
To get into the complex you need to have an ID card or special permission, this way is makes the location more secure and safe.  No booze is allowed. 
From Tioga, we traveled south toward New Town, ND.  On the way there we stopped at this drilling site.  This is currently a six hole pad.  However, they are drilling six more so it will be a 12 hole pad. 

The 4 green & yellow grasshopper looking things here are the Pumps.   The pump is the final step of the whole drilling process. The pump is what is left at the sight to bring the crude oil up into the tanks or pipeline.  Our Bakken wells are about 2 miles below the ground so it is quite a safe distance below our drinking water.  The tall blue & white object is a drilling rig.  This is a "walking rig".  That means it will drill one well and literally walks a few hundred feet, sets down and drills the next well.  This is a much faster process than in the past when the crews had to pack up the whole rig to move it.  The tan tanks in the right of the photo are storage tanks for the crude oil and for the salt water which is a natural by-product of our oil field.  These two products will be trucked away to other locations for processing.  Oil companies are hoping for more pipeline to move the oil.  Pipelines will also relieve our roads of the extra truck traffic as well.


This is another look at the same "walking" drilling rig.
We took a little break at Crow Flies High overlook just west of New Town.  The water here is Lake Sakakawea  (pronounced sa-ka`ka-we-a).  We were lucky to have a day with beautiful weather to enjoy some time outside here.
From this overlook we continued on to Watford City, ND to see the many changes to this city.  This is one of the towns that has doubled (maybe tripled) in size due to the discovery of the Bakken Oilfield.  We noticed a former small town that now has stop lights, numerous apartment buildings and houses popping up all over and new businesses springing up.    We continued on down the highway to Grassy Butte and Killdeer, ND.  There is so much construction all along Highway 85.  Mostly oil companies building offices, storage and mechanic buildings. 

From Killdeer we headed north on Highway 22.  This is a nice scenic route.  We saw the Little Missouri River breaks and the Killdeer Mountains (They are not really mountains but at sometime someone must have thought they were because that is what they are named.)  Here you see Andy had to take a look at the view.  I happened to also catch an oil pump and flame in the photo.  The flame is burning off natural gas from the oil.  It is sad to see the natural gas being wasted in this way but until we can get pipelines installed it is all that can be done.
We stopped at the Four Bears Casino west of New Town for supper and then headed back to Powers Lake.  It was a long day of riding in the bus but I learned quite a  bit. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

June 2 and everything is WET

Last evening a neighbor called sharing concern about the township roads.  Mark is on the township board so he is one to call.  Anyway, we visited a little and he told me that some of the roads in nearby townships have water going over them.   Well, it has been wet and just Thursday and Friday we did get 3.5 inches of rain so I went for a drive after mowing the lawns this afternoon.

About 1/2 mile south of us the water is just starting to go over the road.

The two puddles on the edge of the road are where the water is starting to go over the road.  Something very interesting to me in this photo are the objects that are white and look like flowing gauze.  They are actually spider webs!  They are all the way along the road/water here.  I have never seen such a thing before.  They did just flow in the breeze and were quite large.  The spiders were pretty small.
Here is a closer look at the webs (as they are wrapped around a twig):
Back to the water...  This is at the neighbors looking toward the Wilcox trees.  This is the third time this year that this trail has flooded.  We were able to use it (with 4X4 only) to get to our field west here; however, no machinery could have used it.  Now, it is flooded again.  UGH!
Then I went to some of our land that we call the Hammond Place.  (I think all farmers have names for their land - usually named after prior owners.)  I found more water over the road.  I parked my vehicle and walked toward it.  I did not know if a jet was flying over or if the water was roaring.  It was indeed the water!   The water was coming through the culvert so fast that it was foaming!  You can see it was not a long fall for the water but it sure had the sound of an awesome waterfall.

For some of the family:  this is the big slough in the SW corner of the former CRP  (looking toward David Schwede's former place). 
It has run over and joined up with all of the other Hammond Sloughs'.  (The only way I'd get a photo of that is if I was in a plane.)  Here is where it is coming to the road.  It goes over the road just to the right of the photo.
(This is especially for you Ken!)
Planting came to a halt for us early Thursday morning.  The rain started and did not stop until Friday afternoon totalling about 3.5 inches.  We are about 2/3 done with getting our crop in.  Sadly, there is a very good chance of rain for Monday-Thursday this week.  We will see what happens but it could mean that we will not get any more seeded.