I went down this morning and opened the gates for the day. It's kind of nice to be up that early, there's no one out and about yet, and I can imagine that I'm waking the deer and other animals in the forest around us. The only sounds in the early morning are the trains that pass not far from here. They blow their horns at crossings as required by law, but it seems that some blow it longer and more often than necessary. It is very apparent that they have a very wide latitude about the use of their horns.
Someone asked me the other day in a comment about what our duties are around here and I forgot to answer, but will do so now. About the only requirement is to open and close the gates. There are contractors that come in early four days a week, so we only have to open the gates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday but we have to lock them every evening at dusk. One thing that was stressed is to tell visitors when the gates close. Several times, people have been locked inside the gates because they became lost or disoriented and didn't get back before the gates close. Getting back to our duties, Todd's wife and Stella both keep the visitors center and the educational center swept, cleaned and stocked with brochures and literature. Then there are a list of projects which we can choose whatever we want to work on, depending on our skill level and simply, our likes and dislikes. There will be more and more mowing as the weather warms and some planned controlled burns will keep us busy when that happens. All that being said, we can work as hard as we want to and the park staff is very easy to work with and are thankful for the volunteers.
Today we had a staff meeting at the headquarters building. After the safety meeting, we all went over to Marshall to the Cafe Italia restaurant for lunch. It was a nice time with all our new friends here.
We returned to the refuge and began making up the items needed for a Boy Scout troop that was coming to stay out here tonight. They will be erecting signs to mark a trail at the Star ranch. The Star ranch is just one block in this huge (8500 acre) refuge. It was owned by the Star family for many years and the old family home remains on the property. It is in need of repair and I was told that plans are being made to restore it.
While preparing the sign posts, we had to cut off some of the post length, which Josh did using a gasoline powered saw. While cutting the first set, he burned a hole through the cover on some protective chaps that he had on. It was a surprise to all of us, but it certainly proved the use of protective clothing. It could have been much more serious had he not worn them.
We had another impromptu happy hour this afternoon when everyone returned from their duties. Nice way to end the day.
The Boy Scout troop arrived about 6:30 and were escorted down to the ranch by Todd and Ron while Stella and I closed the front gates. We do not lock the gates while they are here in case of an emergency. Of course, we all hope that nothing happens, but you can never be too careful, especially with kids.