Wood ducks hanging out in the canal behind the sawmill. Something a little more serene than the Halloween post.
Ralph was a state forester. He’s retired now, but he’s been a friend throughout my career. He gave me my first ride along.
When I met Ralph, I was a firefighter in the summer and attending community college. I declared my Forestry Major and was preparing to transfer to Humboldt State University. I had not taken any forestry classes yet. That would start the next year. I didn’t have much forestry work experience. I knew Ralph from my job at the fire station. I asked if I could ride along with him for a day. He gladly took me up on it. I learned a lot from Ralph.
The other day I took a young woman, named Jaime, for a ride along. She’s contemplating her next career move. She is a cousin of a close friend.
The night before, Mary and I visited with our friends, Jaime, and her father. We had a wonderful conversation. Jaime recently completed her Bachelor degree at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. Now she was considering going for an environmental law degree. Mary and I were both thinking, She needs to go for a ride along. When offered, she leaped at the chance.
The next day we started out with an introduction to our company’s head research scientist, CJ. These two women hit it off famously. After an insightful conversation about environmental science, careers and education, we headed out to the mill.
We toured the mill complex where Jaime started out watching the pole plant processing logs. Next, we went through the sawmill. She asked a ton of questions about the process and took a few pictures to send to her friends back in North Carolina. After the mill tour it was back to the truck.
We headed out to look at the timberlands. Our conversation centered on forestry practices, land management and environmental issues. We started near Shingletown, looking at forestry practices, and ended the day at the Ponderosa Burn, talking about fire restoration.
Now, if I sound like the wise professional bestowing my vast knowledge from on high, let me correct that right now. This education process is a two way street. Our conversations weren’t all about forestry. I learned about all manner of issues important to her generation. We both had a fun and instructive day.
Making time for young people to go for a ride along or job shadow for a day is time well spent. A day job shadowing does something for them that a semester of school doesn’t do. It gives them a big picture of the profession. As professionals we benefit from this time too. We’re never too old to learn and they too have a lot to share.
This morning, sunrise was quite a treat for the eyes. Even in the middle of a large industrial site you can find a moment to enjoy nature.
When I first posted A Memory In The Mist I thought it would be an unusual sight for most folks. With so many people unfamiliar with teepee burners and their use, and add to that a picture of one decaying into the earth, it would be something different. I decided I would show you a few more images of full standing burners that are still around. They represent something from the past that was left behind by the forward march of technology.
In the old days, before sawdust was used for particle board and bark was used for landscaping, it was burned. Much of it was burned to power the boilers at the mill, but excess wood waste was just burned. Today’s mill residues that cannot be used in other products are burned in co-generation plants to generate electricity. Nothing goes to waste anymore.
A big one like the Carlotta burner could handle a lot of mill residue. With the mill gone the old burner stands like a grave marker of the old mill site.
A tall burner like the one Nubieber was built with a tall chimney. This reduced the risk of sparks starting a fire outside the burner.
The Anderson burner was a very typical design around here. As a child I lived about a half mile from this one.
We weren’t expecting to have a fire threaten the mill. The photos below tell the story.
The rain has been replaced by wind and dry conditions once again. Fire returned, only this time instead of in the woods, it was at the mill. With winds blowing 25 to 30 mph a fire broke out at the mill next door and was being blown right at our site.
It was all hands on deck. The crew poured in from all over the plant site to fight the fire.
Hoses were laid and water was flowing onto the fire. Soon, the regular fire crews arrived on scene.
We were afraid the fire would spread into the pole stacks, or God forbid, the chip pile.
Our dozer was building a fireline in case the fire tried to jump the canal.
The air tanker arrived ready to drop fire retardant.
The effort continued on the ground and we held the fire at the edge of our mill site.
Then the Helicopter arrived with the Bambi Bucket.
The helicopter was scooping water from the Sacramento River to dump onto the fire.
With the spread of the fire was stopped, mop up operations began.
Our crew moved fast to get water on the fire and the fire department responded quickly. Together we were able to stop the fire before it could get into our yard. As a result of everyone’s quick action this wasn’t a big problem for us. I’m not certain how the neighbors fared, but I think they did okay also.
This is just another reminder that we are in for a long fire season this year.
I saw an osprey do the strangest thing the other day. I was driving from the log yard to the pole yard and I saw one of the osprey go into an aggressive dive. Located between the two yards is a canal. I naturally assumed that the osprey was going after a fish in the canal. I drove closer and pulled over to get some shots of the action.
It was an excellent chance to shoot the osprey. Lately they have been sitting on the eggs and hanging out at the tower. Not a lot of opportunity to get any interesting pictures.
As I started taking pictures, the osprey wheeled around to come in for another swoop. With his sights set on target he banked for the dive.
Then, the osprey did something unexpected! Instead of diving into the canal the osprey dove into an open area. It was fast and low, beautiful to watch. Osprey are fish eaters and to my knowledge they don’t catch rodents. So what was he doing?
Then, he did the osprey snatch. The osprey grabbed a stringy piece of cedar bark. Bark, why bark? He flew about ten feet and dropped the bark. It all seemed quite purposeful.
Then the osprey circle back around and headed out.
He did manage to give me a dirty look as he did his fly by.
I’m left with the question, what was the osprey doing? Was he looking for material for the nest? I don’t think so, because they haven’t worked on the nest for weeks and the eggs have been laid. Did he think the bark was an animal? I doubt it and I think they only eat fish. Was he practicing or playing? Maybe, why wouldn’t a well fed osprey engage in a little fun.
Do any of you good folks have any ideas as to what the osprey was doing? I would love to hear your theory.