Some say the world will end with fire.

Others say with ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those that favor fire.

But if I had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate,

To say that for destruction ice,

Is also great and would suffice.

Robert Frost


"Good things come to those who wait, but, only the things LEFT by those who hustle." - Unknown (at least by me)

"Life is wonderful, without it you are dead." - Hy "Pete" Peterson - Park City and Kenecott Miner

"Don't worry about those people in your past---there is a reason they are not in your present." - Unknown

"Life's tough - it's even tougher if you're stupid." - John Wayne

"The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary!" - Vince Lombardi

"If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re probably taking up too much space.” ~ Attributed to Jim Whittaker by Doug ‘Swani’ Swantner, Alaska Smokejumper and Air Attack Base Manager (Ret.)

About Me

My photo
I am married and have seven children and twenty grandchildren. I retired January 1, 2010 after working 39+ years for the Forest Service...NEW CHAPTER IN MY LIFE HAS BEGUN!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Even with a computer with viruses and worms I still had to work---here are a few photos of what I have been up to.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I hope that this series of photos will help you understand how we straw mulch the places in a fire where it has burned extremely hot. The reason we mulch is to hold the seed and the soil in place until the plants from the seed can hold it stable without the straw. When you lose your top soil you don't have much chance of producing a lot of anything. It is really important to keep all the soil on the hill rather than wash it down the streams. If you double click the photos you can see them bigger.

I have the photos in about a perfect reverse order but am too tired and lazy to reshuffle them so here is a little explanation of straw mulching.

Center ridge has been mulched---notice the yellow color of the ground.

Straw bomb just about to hit the ridge after it was dropped from the net hooked below the helicopter on a long line (150 foot cable).

Helicopter being used to fly the straw mulch. We are using three of these.

Another straw bomb before it hits the ground. Notice how much they expand before they hit.

About 2200 pounds of straw in the net it is dropped from.

Crew loading net for pick up.

Crew waiting to remove an empty net and re-hook a full one. Sometimes there is less than two minutes to hook, refill the net, and hook again. This is a supreme helitac crew. They run (and I do mean run) steadily from sunrise to sunset.

Helicopter heading out loaded but you can't see the net full of straw because it hasn't cleared the stack yet.

Straw stack.

Bigger straw stack.

Biggest straw stack. Tractors and bale wagons used to transport the straw up the hill to the helispot from which it will be flown out.

Stack of straw in easy reach of the landing.

Trucks delivering straw at a rate of about 300 tons per day. We'll likely end up flying over 4200 tons. That is a lot of trips since each flight carries about 1 ton.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Yesterday, just a couple of hours after I posted my last post, we got the decision that the appeal was being over ridden by the Chief and we can go back to work completing the rehab on the Twitchell Canyon fire. That is great news. We still have a weather window that is good for seeding and mulching so we'll go for it and see what happens. I am personally glad that an appeal without merit, in my opinion, was over ridden. CAN'T WAIT TO GET 'ER DONE.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Went to the office today to get a list of the rest of the straw that has been tested and approved for use on the rehabilitation project. While I was there I got lots of comments like---"we're really glad you are doing this project because if you weren't we would be tied up almost full time in it," AND "I'm so glad I dont have to give people the bad news like you are having to do with this project," AND "we don't seem to get any news on what is going on with the project, what's the deal?"

Well here's the deal---the contract is under appeal and a stay has been put in place---we have requested that the stay be overridden by the Chief and we get told to go back to work. Until that happens or the appeal is resolved----NOTHING IS GOING ON EXCEPT MY PHONE BILL. I get a lot of calls for a few minutes each day but don't really think that constitutes working on the project so I am not charging for any of the time I am putting in either.

If the project was at a decent and clean stopping place I would give it back to them. The past three weeks hasn't been much fun.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Went back to my home town again today and after the funeral viewing went up to my mother's old house which is being reconstructed by my brother. I have been told by many people that there are huge changes in the house---I can tell you that the footprint on the front is exactly the same. The house has been expanded nine feet in back and a covered deck has been added back there too. Makes the peak of the roof higher but I doubt you can tell that with the naked eye. But who knows---maybe the OLD ladies that told me they could see the difference really can. There are some other subtle changes to the roof too but they are hard to see.

After--I noticed that the chimney in the middle of the roof and the upright in the middle of the porch are not there if you compare to the before picture.

This is the before photo---just before they started tearing the North 2/3 off the house and recontsructing it.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Took Inklings to Tangled last night. All I have to say about the movie is that Disney's animators and artists are great. Imagine a horse following a trail like a blood hound---YUP---one did that and it was hilarious. The rest of the movie was great too. I believe that the lead in to the movie said it was Disney's fiftieth full length movie. I don't believe I have seen fifty of them but the ones I have seen make me happy there are Disney studios. Young parents---take your kids---old folks go see it---it is worth the money.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with only us, Inklings Mom and Dad and Native Minnow. We didn't even try to eat the entire 25 pound turkey---but I still ate way too much. Native Minnow left Friday for home and our oldest son, his wife, and five children came over for a visit. They spent the night and it was fun to have them here.

They are all growing up way too fast but guess that is what happens to kids. We missed all the rest of you. Looking forward to Christmas.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I am getting a real lesson in the Logistics of moving straw---these guys are good and know what they are doing. It's fun to work with folks like that.
Storage area where bales are off loaded from the trucks and transported to the helispots.

Tractor pulled bale wagons move the straw six miles uphill 12 bales at a time---that's about 7 tons.

It is put into one of several stacks at the helispot. This is 1/4 to 1/6 of the straw we need to fly depending on how the coverage goes when the bales are released from the helicopter.

Friday, November 19, 2010


The dates on the photos should be 11/17/2010 and I don't know how the camera date got off but it is.

It was never this easy to move bales of anything when I was working on the farm.

The trucks are all off loaded into a storage site close to a paved road and the straw is stacked in a huge stack. It is moved to the helispots by farm tractor pulled bale wagons at either 8 or 12 bales to the load depending on the size of the bales.

The bales are put into a stack just like you see on the farm.

Tried to start the stack here but there is just too much slope and the bales won't stand.

Two fuel tenders on the helispot. They are parked in spill containment kits to prevent a hazmat spill. We are ready to fly as soon as the weather cooperates. It is too windy again today.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


On the little project I am working on we are making good progress. We have flown about 96 thousand pounds of seed onto the burned area. We are about 1/3 complete with that part of the project. If the weather would settle down and let us go to work we would finish this in about four days of good flying.

We had to shut down today because of strong winds aloft that blew the planes and helicopters all over the place. We will likely be shut down tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday because of weather too. Time will tell.

The mulching side of the project is coming along too. There is a lot of straw on hand and a lot more being delivered daily. It will be fun to see the three helicopters that arrived yesterday actually fly with the mulch---I am really looking forward to watching them bomb the hill sides.

Monday, November 15, 2010


We have been weathered out with high winds and rain/snow for the last 2 days. The rain/snow is also making muddy conditions across the project area. The frost has come out of the roads and they are terribly muddy. Hate to be a spoil sport but I could use a couple of nights at near zero---just to solidify the roads into the project area.

Hate to wish the warm weather away but I could for sure do without the storm for the next five or six weeks.

RANT OVER?.....maybe.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


The two seed planes flew 35,000 pounds of seed onto the fire Saturday before they got blown out of the skies by the winds aloft. They had 9,000 pounds left on the deck when they quit. To date that makes 60,000 pounds on the fire area.

Today (Sunday) they took a test flight at 0705---at 0718 they called me and left a message on my phone that it was unsafe to fly the ridges and they were shutting down for a while and maybe for all day. With the weather the way it looks I'll bet they can't fly until Monday afternoon sometime.

We should have the remainder of the seed in Monday and start mixing Tuesday---they can go back to flying seed in seriousness Wednesday if everything goes well.

The lab tests on the straw should be back Monday--so straw could start arriving Tuesday as well---that'll make things a little hectic if it happens. Two seed planes flying seed and three helicopters straw bombing the areas all flying by Wednesday. That's a lot of aircraft doin' a lot of work.


Friday, November 12, 2010


Had a great day today spreading seed for fire rehab. Here are a few pictures of what it looks like. We had two planes each of which flew about 2,000 pounds of seed a trip. Flew over 25,000 pounds of seed today. This is turning out to be an awesome project. Now we just gotta beat the snow.

Flying seed---look at the seed trail behind the plane.

These dudes are awesome pilots.

Seems pretty close to the ground to me.

How seed is loaded into each plane---the bag on the lift contains 2,000 pounds of seed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Worked a half a day today to get things ready for the rehabilitation contract tomorrow. They are flying in two aircraft today to start spreading seed as soon as we are out of the meeting tomorrow morning. Should have it all down by next Saturday. They are bringing in four helicopters to fly the mulch, starting Saturday or Sunday. If things go well we will be finished with the entire contract before December---That's gotta be a record for accomplishment time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Things are going pretty fast. The aircraft contract has been awarded and most of the seed is mixed and ready to fly. Should get the remainder of the seed tomorrow for testing. Then we will mix the rest Monday if the tests come back good. Heavy clouds today (and now snow) will prevent any flying and I haven't been contacted by the Helicopter Company about where they want to store their materials yet. They know that I have to approve the sites so things will get tense in the next few days when they do contact me.

I am really looking forward to getting things in the air on this project. On Friday of this week I will have been working three weeks on and off on the project. That has got to be a record for getting six seed contracts and an application contract awarded and ready to go.

Just looked out the window and it is snowing---HARD---and that is the last thing I need right now with the contract ready to go forward. I hope we don't get a ton of snow out of this storm.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I worked yesterday and went to the place where the seed for the Twitchell Canyon fire is being mixed. About half of the seed is already there and the rest is being delivered today and tomorrow. The last two loads of seed have to be tested before they can be mixed to assure there are no noxious weed seeds in them and to get the percentage of seed that is live. That will make a big difference on application rates since the rates specified are for pure live seed.

I am releived to have the seed on hand and some of it is being mixed today and tomorrow. They will continue to mix next week if the tests come back good on the seed delivered this week. Time will tell---hope it tests good.

They are evaluating the bids this morning for the aircraft that is going to apply the seed and the mulch. The award could be made as early as tomorrow. It is starting to look like we'll be flying seed next week. That will put me completed with the project by December 15th if everything goes well. Would love to have it completed by then...both for me and for the ground being seeded and mulched.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I went in to work this morning to make sure I had everything in place for the 8th to mix the seed. While I was there we were notified that the seed companies (all of them) didn't have enough of one type of seed to fill our order. That seed is being delivered today less the amount not available. This creates a problem because the total poundage was scheduled to be in two different mixes and some of it applied alone (it was going to be used on three separate areas). So now a decision has to be made of what to do about a change in mixes (if any)---and on top of that the other seed contract will be awarded tomorrow so we should know sometime tomorrow if we are going to get all of the other seed we ordered.

We are having a meeting tomorrow to determine what we are going to do with this changed situation---if it was up to me we would use what we have where it was scheduled by itself and mix the rest for the other areas each receiving half of what remains. That is what I would do and that took all of one minute to decide. But NO tomorrow we will meet as a group to try to figure out what we are going to do to meet our plan. Should take about three hours and we still won't know for sure what we are going to apply in all the areas.

When I was a wee lad my Grandfather used to say:
"Committees of 20 contemplate plenty;"
"Committees of 10 work now and then;"
"If you want anything done, under the sun, have it done by a committee of one."

Just proof again that my Grandfather was a very smart man.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I have blogged about flying seed onto the burned areas and there was a question or comment about it, so this picture shows the seed being flown on---look closely at the bottom of the plane toward the tail and you can see the seed being blown out of the seeder. Look at the left wing tip by the cliff to see how awesome these pilots are.

1600 pounds of seed is flown on with each takeoff. It is loaded from 50 pound bags into a big loading bag that is lifted by a big machine and the seed loaded into the front of the plane. The above picture shows this process.

Mulching entails loading wheat straw bales into a cargo net with a large piece of equipment then the bales are flown to the area requiring mulch and the straw is dropped from the net---only half of the net releases and the big bales of straw hit the ground and the straw is spread across the site by the force of the bales hitting the ground.

This will give you an idea of what I will be up to for the next little while. It is an awesome job---glad I get to do it. ;-)