Homesteading and Survivalism

Living a simple life

Tag: southeast texas

Planting Loblolly and Longleaf seeds

Rate This Article

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.

(more…)

Beaumont Texas man arrested for carrying rifle

Rate This Article

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;

(more…)

I Believed The Lie

Rate This Article

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.

What I regret most about my career is:

1 – Believing the lie

2 – Going into the welding field

3 – Staying in the welding field

My first job at a welding shop was in 1986.  It took me from 1986 – 1995 to finally admit that welding sucked and I needed to get a new career path.  In 1995 I started going to Lamar College in Port Arthur Texas.

Now that I am out of the welding field I am free to express my frustration without the worry of getting blackballed.

I was once told that if an employee spoke up, the various welding companies would agree not to hire him, thus condemning the worker and his family to poverty.  Or, the worker would be forced out of the welding field.

Nobody had to force me out of working in welding shops, I left upon my own free will.  I was glad to leave and hopefully never look back.  The only time I look back is when I write these articles and have to pull up some old memories.

I Regret Working In The Welding Field

Rate This Article

Kevin Felts working on his bar-b-q pit

working on his bar-b-q pit

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.

That is a heck of a choice, work overtime to make sure your family can pay the bills, or not work the overtime and barely get by.

If I could go back to 1986, I doubt I would every go into the welding field. The pay sucks and the the benefits suck. Why should I sacrifice my hearing and my lungs so a company can throw its employees some scraps?

One company I worked at in southwest Louisiana did not provide any kind of benefits, nor did the employees get a cost of living raise. After the 90 day probation period the employee received a 25 cent an hour raise. After that first 25 cent raise, no other pay raises were given. Why should employees have to suffer that kind of poverty level wages? We are not talking about stocking shelves at a grocery store. We are talking about skilled fitters and welders.

And welding companies wonder why they have problems finding skilled workers? Look no further then the pay and the benefits.

Why should young people go to work at a welding shop and make barely above poverty wages, when they can go into computers and make 3 times the money?

I have yet to see an ASME certified pressure vessel or heat exchanger shop that pays like working with computers does.

Welder, Cutter, Solderer, or Brazer Hourly Rate: $25,072 – $57,948

Salary for C++: $41,324 – $99,072

Why should I make $57k a year, when I can apply myself and make $99k a year?

But yet ASME certified welding shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana complain they can not find skilled workers?

Trip to the hunting lease October 4 2012

Rate This Article

Long story short, my dad and I went to the hunting lease, filled up the feeders, bush-hogged the 4 wheeler trails then went home.

Now for the rest of the story, The day started off nice and cool.  Here in southeast Texas its takes a little while for the summer heat to wear off.  It is not unusual for the first part of November to have highs in the 80s.  There have been times when I have been sitting in a deer stand on opening weekend sweating.

On October 4th fall was in the air.  A cool front had pushed through a couple of days earlier, which helped bring the temps down to a bearable level.

Dad went to the camp on October 3rd, were he spent the night.  The plans were for dad to pick me up in Jasper, then we were going to the hunting lease.

Kristy and I woke up Thursday morning, did our typical morning routine, which includes a shower, brush our teeth, then eat breakfast.  While I was eating breakfast, I called dad, he said he was running a little late.  I asked dad if he wanted Kristy to fix him some breakfast, he said sure.

Dad showed up about 45 minutes later; Kristy fixed him some sunny side up eggs the hens had laid.

After dad finished his breakfast we went to walmart in Jasper to pick up some deer corn.  I tell you what, the price of deer corn has gotten outrageous.   A few years ago corn was somewhere around $4.75 a bag, now its almost $10 a bag.

Dad bought 16 bags of deer corn.  He had 4 bags in the back of the truck, so there was a total of 20 bags to put in the deer feeders.

We left walmart and drove to the hunting lease.

(more…)

Why I left the welding field

Rate This Article

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.

(more…)

The future of generation Y

Rate This Article

My first wife and I had 4 children, 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.

I will tell you something about working in welding shops, as I have 15 years experience. In relation to minimum wage, people 20 years older then me made more money in the 1960s and 1970s then I made in the 1980s and 1990s. Like everything else, the pay for skilled workers has stagnated.

I worked in the welding field for 15 years. There is a physical toll it takes on your health, lungs, vision, fingers, even people being killed.

(more…)

Favorite fab shops in southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas

Rate This Article

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]

(more…)

Welding shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana

Rate This Article

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?  What are the welders, fitters and helpers supposed to do about it? When an entire industry exploits its workers, there is not much that can be done.

I feel that most of the welding (fabrication) shops in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana exploit their employees. Not all of the welding shops exploit their employes, but a lot of them do.
 
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.

(more…)

Hard work does not always equal success

Rate This Article

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.

There was one place I worked, the supervisor was an absolute asshole.  During the week I told the supervisor I needed to take off early saturday to go to my brothers wedding.  The asshole asked what time the weeding was.  Then he added up how much time I needed to get home, get a shower, get dressed, and then drive to the wedding.  I got off work about 2 hours before the weeding, and that was with a 45 minute drive home.  Needless to say I was one of the last people to show up.  That asshole supervisor could not even give me the day off, or even half a day off to spend some time with my family.

I dont know if it was the number of hours that the welding shops worked, or the low pay, or a combination of both that has me bitter?  Time with my family is worth more then I made in overtime pay.  There were times when I did not get a day off for 4 – 6 weeks, take a day off, repeat for 4 – 6 weeks, and that was working 12 hour shifts.

(more…)

Why do we miss the past

Rate This Article

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, 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.

Even though the job market was ok at best, and the housing market was too expensive, I miss living in Bridge City. Its a good area to live in, and has a low crime rate. I just wish employers were willing to pay skilled workers what they are worth.

Even though I resent being exploited, why I miss working in the welding shops? Why do I miss being exploited? Why do I miss backbreaking work? Why do I miss barely scrapping by on my bills?

Maybe its not that I miss those hardships in life, maybe I miss times that seemed simpler?

(more…)

River trip part 4

Rate This Article

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.

Fixing boat rivetsIn all, 25 rivets were replaced, which took about an hour.

If you are wondering what that stuff is on the deck of the boat, that is boat carpet that has rotted and fallen off. I need to take a scarper to remove the last bit of the carpet. My son suggested taking the boat to a car wash, then using the high pressure setting to wash the rest of the carpet off.

I thought about getting a stainless steel wire wheel for my grinder to buff the last parts of the carpet off.  But then again, a paint scraper might work just as good.

Why the boat did not make it to the river

The lower unit is leaking oil.

Evinrude leaking oil from lower unitBefore the boat was taken on the upcoming 100+ mile river camping trip, I wanted to put in the shop for some preventive maintenance.  The water pump impeller had never been changed, the spark plugs needed to be replaced and I wanted the oil in the lower unit replaced.

While the boat was in the shop, the mechanic discovered the power pack was going bad.  This might have explained why the motor had been difficult to start.  After talking with the mechanic on the phone, I gave the go ahead to replace whatever needed to be replaced.

When I got the boat back, the motor would not even idle.  I also noticed there was some oil on the ground below the motor.  I did not think anything about the oil, I thought it was residue from the mechanic cleaning the motor.

After a closer look, it appears the oil is leaking from a water vent hole.

Edit

At first I thought something was wrong with the motor, but after talking with my dad and several internet searches it seems that its just un-burned oil in the gas.  My dad suggested that I take the fill screw out of the skeg, check the oil for water, and go from there.

My wife and I are planning on taking the boat out on the river today. While we are out I plan on getting a fresh can of gas, mix in some oil and go from there.

Forum thread on Evinrude 30 horsepower leaking oil.

Other sections to this article:

River trip part 1
River trip part 2
River trip part 3

This series of articles is in preps of a 100+ mile river / camping trip down the Sabine river.  My buddies and I are planning on launching the boats around Bon Weir Texas, and ending up in Bridge City.

River trip part 3

Rate This Article

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.

When I got the boat back, not was it running worse then before it went in the shop, but some of the parts I wanted fixed were still on the boat. I especially told the guy I wanted a part replaced. Since it was not replaced, I guess what I said was not important enough for him to listen to me.

While I was talking to the guy about what all I wanted done to the boat, I specifically told him some of my buddies and I were planning a 100 boat trip down the Sabine river.  The plan is to out in at Bon Weir where HWY 190 crosses the Sabine river, and go all the way to Bridge City.  I hoped the service guy would take what I told him about the river trip I had planned, and with that information make absolutely sure the boat was in running order before I got it back.

Before the boat was taken out to the river for a test run, the water hose was connected to the motor, the motor was cranked and let run for a few minutes.  The motor seemed to be running a little rough.  I did not think anything about it.

The trailer was hooked up to my truck, and off to the boat launch my step son and I went.

Once in the water, the motor cranked up fine, but seemed to idle a little rough.

I back the boat out to the main river channel, then gently throttled the motor.  As soon as the boat started to plane out, I knew something was wrong.  At maximum throttle, the boat would drop RPMs.  On top of acting a little sluggish, the motor does not sound right.  Its difficult to describe, but something just does not sound right.

Spare parts

While talking to a buddy of mine a few days ago, I need to pick up some spare parts for the trip.

Some of the spare parts I may need to bring:

Spare fuel line
Duct tape
Electrical tape
Fuses for the light system
Pliers
Screw drivers

One thing that will shut down a boat motor quick, and that is a broken fuel line. The fuel line on my boat is getting close to 3 years old. It would be pretty bad if the fuel line ruptured while on the trip.

Other sections to this article:

River trip part 1
River trip part 2
River trip part 4

River trip part 2

Rate This Article

Toledo Bend DamFor those of you that have not read River Trip Part 1, please do so.  After talking to my buddy about the boat launches I went and looked at on my first trip, he sent me an email with what was supposed to be a boat launch just south of the dam on Toledo Bend dam.

The plan for Sunday was for my wife and I to make a trip to Toledo Bend dam.  There are two roads on each side of the river on the south side of the dam where the Sabine river starts.  The goal is to see if there a feasible boat launch.

What I found on the trip on each side of the river were steep banks, and no real boat launch.  There is a place where a pipeline crosses the river.  On the Texas side of the river, it looks like bags of cement were placed on the bank to stop erosion.  The bank is so steep that it would be dangerous to carry a boat and boat down the bank.

Comparing the banks at the Toledo Bend dam to the other boat launches:

From my house, its plus or minus a few miles, its 50 miles from my house to the dam at Toledo Bend

The banks dam are very, very steep.  I would consider the banks so steep that it would be unsafe to a boat and motor down the bank.

(more…)

River Trip Part 1

Rate This Article

Sabine RiverFor around 14 years or so, a couple of my buddies and I have been talking about making a river trip from the northern part of the Sabine river, all the way to the Orange / Bridge city area.   If everything goes according to plan, we will be making the trip sometime in 2012.  The trip is currently in the planning phase – we talking about what boats we want to bring, where we are going to launch the boats at, who is going to be going on the trip,,, just stuff like that.

There are two boat launches in the Bon Wier Texas / Merryville Louisiana area that we are looking at using.  On Sunday January 15, 2012 my wife and I made a trip to the boat launches to see if it was feasible to launch at either one.

Sunday morning started off bright and when my wife and I crawled out of bed around 8:45am.  After getting our shower and having some breakfast, it was finally time to get one the road.  We stopped at a local corner store to picked up some snacks, bought a sunday paper for the coupons, then it was to wal-mart to get some gas.  If you use the wal-mart gift card, you save 3 cents a gallon on gasoline.  A few days before hand, my wife put $40 on a gift card.  When we stopped at the super wal-mart in Jasper I put the whole $40 in my truck.

After gassing up, and getting some snacks, it was finally time to get on the road.  My wife and I left Jasper heading west on HWY 190 towards Newton.  At Newton, we passed over HWY 87, then turned south on HWY 190.

HWY 190 south of Newton is a nice country drive, and a scenic drive.  There is very little out there, besides trees and the occasional house.

The plan was to look at the boat launch at Bon Wier where where 190 crosses into Louisiana  first, then go to the launch at Merryville.

(more…)

Page 1 of 212


Kevin Felts © 2017 Frontier Theme