Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Tag: southeast texas

Local Wildlife Ate All The Wild Plums

Texas Wild Plums

The wild plums here are on the farm were almost ready. So the other day I grabbed a bucket, walked over to the plum patch, and the trees were empty. They had gone from hundreds of wild plums to one in just a couple of days. Chances are the local wildlife feasted on the plums.

How do I know it was the local wildlife? There were no plums on the ground. When the plums ripen they fall off the tree. Since there were no plums on the ground, this means something ate them.

There is a wild plum crop here on the farm that has been left to grow for the past decade. Some of the trees are close to eight feet tall and are nice sized.

Wild plum production can be hit and miss. Some years the trees do very well, while other years they produce almost nothing. The plum production may have something to do with the time spent below freezing, but I am not sure. The winter of 2017 – 2018 was very harsh here in Southeast Texas, and the plum corp in 2018 was wonderful.

Camping Near Bogs, Bayous, and Sloughs

Mud bog

Let’s take a few minutes and talk about camping near bogs, bayous, and sloughs. From the early 1980s until the late 1990s, I primarily camped around the bogs, bayous and sloughs in Southeast Texas.

Sometimes my buddies and I would hike to the camp location, sometimes we would take a boat. We had several places we would go camping. Most of them either near a marsh, or along a bayou and a bog.

There was one place in particular we visited on a semi-regular basis, The camp site was on a cut off the main bayou and near a bog. While camping there, we were just a dozen feet from the waters edge.

It was not uncommon to step off the boat, walk ten feet, and see a Cottonmouth Water Moccasin. One time, I walked right up on a cottonmouth and it struck at my boot. It was a warning strike and it did not bite. Just ten feet from that water moccasin was another one.

For close to two decades, I had somewhat regular run-ins with the Cottonmouth Water Moccasin and various other snakes.

I wish I had taken more pictures in the 1980s and 1990s of my camping trips, but alas I did not.

Camping Near Bogs, Bayous, and Sloughs

Planting Loblolly and Longleaf seeds

When settlers moved into the southern portion of the United States they were greeted by vast forest of Longleaf and Loblolly pine trees. These were majestic trees reaching heights of over 100 feet tall.

Human greed knows no ends. Vast tracts of virgin timber were cut down with no regard to conservation or the effects upon wildlife. By the time the 1930s arrived the Southeast Texas wild Turkey and Whitetail Deer were pretty much extinct. Because their populations had been decimated, turkey and deer had to be reintroduced to regions of Southeast Texas.

The Red-cockaded woodpecker which nest exclusively in Longleaf pine trees was almost made extinct by deforestation. The woodpecker covers less than 1% of its original territory.

What lessons did we learn from deforestation and habitat destruction? Not much. Timber companies still cut down old growth oak trees to make way for pine plantations. Thousands of acres are clear cut and replanted in fast growing hybrid pine trees. Old growth forest are gone forever, or are they?

One of my projects here on the farm is to restore a few acres for old growth oak and pine trees.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-4NBmJRb7M

Beaumont Texas man arrested for carrying rifle

KBMT news is reporting Beaumont police arrested a man for lawfully carrying a rifle. The incident happening in Parkdale Mall in Beaumont Texas. It is reported that he has a store in the mall where he sells firearm accessories, but no actual firearms are sold there. He was allowed to have the rifle at the store for demonstration purposes. While walking to the store, with the AR-15 slung over his back, several people called the police. The police responded and arrested the man.

I never thought I would see the day when a police force in southeast Texas did not support gun rights. The article says the man was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Chances are the guy will be charged under Section 42.01 of the Texas Penal Code, which states,

Sec. 42.01. DISORDERLY CONDUCT. (8) displays a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm;

The problem is, the rifle was slung over the guys shoulder, muzzle down. This is in no way “calculated to alarm”.

I Believed The Lie

This is another one of my welding sucks articles. If you do not want to read about how bad it is to work in a fabrication shop in southeast Texas, just move along.

When I was growing up I was told that if you did a good job, your efforts would be recognized and you would be rewarded for your hard work.

I now know that is a lie.

The lie of “work hard in the hopes your employer gives you a raise” is a wage slave mentality. By working hard you set aside your own standards and adopt the standards someone else has set for you. Do you want to live life the way you want, or the way someone else wants?

“If I weld that nozzle and don’t bust an x-ray, then I will get a raise”,,, is a slave mindset. If I just do this, or if I just do that, then the owner of the company will be happy, and I will get some scraps from his table. Sounds more like the life of a dog rather then the life of a free man.

When I was working in the various welding shops around southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana, I would look at my pay check in disgust. I busted my ass, did a good job, and was rewarded with barely above poverty wages on 40 hours a week. How is someone supposed to buy a home, buy a car, have kids,,, on less then $25k a year? To listen to the weld shop owners, the employees should be proud to work in dangerous and dirty conditions of barely above poverty wages.

I Regret Working In The Welding Field

A little about my work history; in 1986 I went to work for S&T Fabrication (they were in Woodville Texas at the time), in 1987 I went to work for Ohmstede at their Sulphur Louisiana shop. I worked at Ohmstede from 1987 to 1991.

Between 1991 – 1996 I bounced around between the various welding shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.

In 1996 I landed a job at Allied Fabrication in Rose City Texas. Allied was one of the better companies I worked for.

The other companies that will remain nameless can kiss my ass. The sorry ass companies that exploit their employees, pay terrible and provide no benefits will not be mentioned by name.

Its not that I regret working in the welding field, I regret allowing myself to be exploited. Why should someone have to work 60, 70, 80 hours a week to be able to live?

While I was working at Ohmstede my supervisor (Bill Scott) told me that it was either feast or famine. Either you worked the overtime and had a good paycheck, or you worked 40 hours a week and starved.

In other words, sacrifice time with your family on the alter of money.

Trip to the hunting lease October 4 2012

Tri-pod deer stand First Stand – the stand and feeder we took care of first was my dads stand. This is a simple tri-pod stand wrapped in a camo tarp and burlap.

About 100 yards from the stand is a deer feeder. The feeder is 55 gallon drum on three legs, a lid to keep the rain out, and a spinner on the bottom of the drum.

Dad backed his truck up to the feeder, I stood on the bed, took the lid off, checked the corn level, then put 6 bags of deer corn in the feeder.

The 6 volt battery was a little low on its charge, so we put a new battery on the motor. Feeders have a test setting, you push the test button for a few seconds, then there is a 10 second count-down. The motor spins just like it would during its time to go off.

Dads stand was in rather bad shape. The tarp was tearing in places, the boards holding the roof up had rotted through and some vines had grown up through the stand.

I climbed into the tri-pod, then used some cable ties to hold the tarp up. Some of the rotten boards were removed. From the looks of things, the framework will have to be reworked after this hunting season.

After we finished the stand and feeder, Dad and I drove to the top of the hill to the next feeder and stand.

Why I left the welding field

My name is Kevin Felts and I have 15 years experience in the welding field. In June 1986 I took a job in a welding shop.

From 1986 – 1999 I worked in various welding shops between southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.

Around August 1999 I was laid off from a welding shop. When I was laid off from that welding shop, I decided to go into the computer field.

Between 2003 – 2004 I went back into the welding field for 12 months.

This past weekend my wife and I were passing through the Beaumont Texas area. While we were around Beaumont, I showed her some of the welding shops I used to work at.

Seeing those welding shops brought back bad memories. I realized that all of the shops we looked at had common traits. Some of those common traits were poorly trained supervisors and poor quality pay.

Company A

One welding shop I worked at in in the Beaumont Texas area, my supervisor (lets call him dumbass) and I had worked together at another welding shop a few years earlier. At this other shop, my wifes grandfather was the foreman. When work got low, the workforce had to be reduced, so a few people were laid off. Dumbass happened to be one of the people laid off. This was in 1987.

What Kind Of Future Will Generation Y Have?

Kevin Felts political commentator

My first wife and I had 4 children (Generation Y), which were born between 1987 and 1996. I often what kind of nation we are leaving our children.

The U.S. government is broke, and still continues to spend money like kids in a candy store. Jobs are still be deported to china, illegal immigrants can get a free education, and now with the policies obama put into place, the illegals do not have to worry about being deported.

In 20 – 30 years will anyone have national pride? What is a nation without citizens and borders? What defines a citizen? Is it someone that walks across the border, then raises their hand for free benefits? What good does it do to be born here, when people can just walk across the river and get equal treatment?

Then there is the free trade issue. As our factories move overseas, what are your children and grandchildren supposed to do for jobs? Those factories also mean national security. It takes longer to build a factory then it does to retool. Lets say we go to war with china and russia, where are our factories?

1 – go to college, get massive debt and hope you land a good job.

2 – go into retail.

3 – start your own business. If you had a rich uncle leave you a couple hundred thousand, maybe you can buy a franchise.

4 – learn a skill and got to work in a refinery, welding shop, land drilling rig or off shore drilling rig.

Favorite fab shops in southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas

In my career across various fab shops in the southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas between 1986 – 1999 and 2003 – 2004, I worked at all different types of companies. Some companies treated employees well, some places treated the employees like crap.

There are a lot of things that set companies apart from each other. Two of the most important have to be management and benefits. Working conditions are also important, as well as safety. But if you dread going to work because your supervisor is an asshole, it makes for a bad work situation.

I have worked for my share of assholes, and I have worked for my share of great people.

Its going on 8 years since I left the welding field. In all, I spent close to 15 years building ASME certified pressure vessels and heat exchangers. I worked on everything from cyanide to water service heat exchangers and vessels.

There is something about working with your hands. At the end of the day you can look at the pressure vessel or heat exchanger and say “I built that.”

The two companies I miss working at, Allied Fabrication in Rose City Texas and Industrial Equipment & Engineering in Sulphur Louisiana.

[Related Article – Welding shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana]

Welding shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana

What happens when an entire industry exploits its workers? Leave and find another job? Then have to wait months for their health insurance to kick in, lose whatever vacation time they have,,, and for what, to be exploited again? Well, some of the companies I worked for did not provide health insurance or vacation time, so leaving those companies would not have been a big deal.

I feel that most of the welding (fabrication) shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana exploit their employees. What are the welders, fitters and helpers supposed to do about it?

From 1986 – 1999 I worked in various fabrication shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana. In 2003 I went back into the welding field, in January 2004 I left the welding field again, and hopefully will never go back.

During this article I am going to re-frame from listing company names. I fear that if I list a company name, I might get sued because the company is butt hurt that a former employee is speaking out. A lot of the welding companies tell their employees, “if you do not like it, leave.” In the 1980s and 1990s I did not have a way to speak out, but now I do. I feel that I have been out of the field long enough that I can finally speak out.

Why did I wait so long before posting this article? Maybe because I have taken a long time to come to grips with my life in the fabrication shops.

This article is based on my personal experiences in welding shops from 1986 – 1999, and in 2003 – 2004.

Hard work does not always equal success

survivalistWhile writing the article why do we miss the past, I kept thinking about the time and effort people put into working at the welding shops in southeast Texas. The more I thought about the working conditions, the lack of proper benefits and how the workers were exploited, the more irritated I became.

There was once a time when working in a welding shop equaled a good living. There was once a time the hard work was recognized, appreciated and rewarded. But those times are long gone.

Working Conditions

You think its hot outside in July and August? Try crawling inside a piece of pipe that has been heated to 350 – 400 degrees so you can weld on it. Certain types of metal, such as chrome, require the metal to be preheated before you can weld on it. If the metal is not heated to a certain temperature before you weld on it, the weld can crack.

You think the dust in your house makes you sneeze? How would you like to blow your nose, and the rag be black? The dust from the grinding and gouging collects in your nose. Just think what its doing to your lungs.

Some companies act like worker safety plays second place to production. There were places I worked where we did not have fans to blow fresh air into sections of pipe we were working inside of. There were times when my lungs felt like they were being choked from the welding fumes. Times when the grinding dust made my lungs hurt for days.

Related Articles

Why do we miss the past

survivalistWhy do we miss the past so much? Why do we look back and say “those were good times”, even if the times were not “that” great?

Career Path

I grew up in a little town in southeast Texas called Bridge City. My parents moved to Bridge City sometime around 1976. After I graduated high school I got married and bought a home.

Fast forward 14 years, my wife and I divorced and I moved to the Conroe / Montgomery area for a few years.

In 2003 my new wife and I moved back the Bridge City area.

After I finished high school I went to work for a welding shop. Between 1986 – 1999 and 2003 – 2004 I collected around 15 years experience in the fabrication of ASME certified pressure vessels and heat exchangers.

During that 15 years I learned a lot (not all) of the welding shops in southeast Texas take joy in paying low wages and exploiting workers. The low pay was one reason why I had to leave the Bridge City area. To those fab shop owners that get some kind of sick kick out of exploiting their employees, screw you. There is a special place in hell for greedy bastards like you.

Even with 15 years experience working in various welding shops for around 15 years, the wage I was earning did not allow my wife and I to buy a home. The home prices were so inflated that the average middle income wage earner could not afford to buy. In the end the lack of decent wages and bloated housing market drove my wife and I out of the Bridge City area.

River trip part 4

This update was supposed to be in 2 parts. The first part was supposed to be doing some maintenance to the boat, such as fixing some broken rivets. The second part was supposed to be taking the boat out on the river to make sure is running ok, and to to use a GPS to see how fast the boat can travel down the river.

Well, the boat never made it to the river.

Broken boat rivetThe front of the boat has a deck that is held in place with rivets. Over the years of walking on the deck the rivets have slowly pulled lose or broken.

Replacing the rivets

Use a drill bit the size of the rivet, drill through the middle of the rivet, the head should come loose.

Use a punch or drift pen to drive out the middle of the rivet.

If the rivet does not want to drive out, use the drill to drill it out.

Insert new rivet into the hole.

Use a rivet gun to secure the rivet.

River trip part 3

Evinrude 30 Horsepower Angelina River TexasWhen planning a trip like a 100+ mile river / camping trip, its important to test your gear. Part of the testing phase is making sure your boat is in good running order. The purpose of todays trip was to test the boat to make sure it was in good running order.

A few weeks ago I put the boat in for repairs. During a recent camping trip a bolt fell out of the gear shifting lever, the water pump impeller has never been changed, and the spark plugs were looking a little old, the oil in the lower unit had never been changed and there was a short in the starter button.

Trip to the shop

I brought the boat to a local boat repair place. the service guy was told what I wanted, I even had him go out to the boat and take a look at something I wanted fixed.

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