Local Wildlife Ate All The 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.

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Camping Near Bogs, Bayous, and Sloughs

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

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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.

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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;

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I Believed The Lie of Capitalism

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.

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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.

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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.

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What Kind Of Future Will Generation Y Have?

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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River trip part 2

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.

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River Trip Part 1

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.

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Holy crap its hot

Lake Sam Rayburn 2001 Texas DroughtAnd not only is it hot, its dry. Its not that “oh, we did not get any rain in the past week” kinda dry, its like “we are in a SERIOUS kind of drought” type of dry.

Where is the rain?

Our lakes dry up, and no rain falls.

Our creeks dry up, and no rain falls.

Our crops wither away, and no rain falls.

Our tree sheds their leaves and start to die, and still no rain falls.

Back in February 2011 my kids and I went to the Bug Out Location and planted some trees. the trees included some oak trees, a plum tree and a peach tree. One of the oak trees had been grown from an oak that fell from the tree in my front yard. When the oak tree was planted, it might have been maybe 5 years old.

Over the past 6 months my family and I have been making trips to the camp to make sure the trees have been getting plenty of water. Well, over the past few weeks it looked like we had been getting some rain at the camp, so I did not bother checking on the trees. The problem is, the rain was a little of nothing.

August 20, 2011 my wife and I go to check on the trees, and they were in bad shape. Most of the leaves had turned brown and fallen off. There were a few green leaves, but not many. My wife and I put 2 gallons of water on the tree, waited about 30 – 45 minutes, and then put 2 more gallons on the tree.

Video about climate change and long term survival plans.

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Thinking about the 2011 – 2012 hunting season

east texas whitetail deerWe are on the final 3 month countdown to the start of hunting season here in Texas. Bow season starts in October, and rifle season starts the first weekend in November. How is the season going to turn out? I have no idea.

My new rifle, a DS Arms SA58 FN/FAL needs a scope. Even though the shots are only about 75 – 100 yards, in the late evening light the sights seem to just fade away. I thought about getting some tritium sights, but for the price of the tritium sights I could get a scope. If the price between the new sights and a scope is “about” the same, why not get a scope. Before I could mount a scope on my FN/FAL, first I had to install a new scope mount, which worked out well.

Hunting season is my favorite time of year, the weather turns off cool, we get a break from the Texas heat, bugs go away, leaves on the trees turn colors and fall to the ground.

There is just something about winter time that can not be described, the quiet and peacefulness of the woods and the wind blowing through the trees. Summer is nice, but I think winter has a certain beauty about it that summer can not touch.

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Cottonmouth Water Moccasins and Copperhead Snakes

or people that do not get into the woods very much, getting a copperhead and a water moccasin mixed up might be an easy thing to do. So what this article is going to do is give a basic run down on both types of snakes.

The examples that are going to be covered are from my own personal experiences from being in the wilderness and not from scientific studies. So take this information as opinion and not as fact.

The snake in the picture is a medium sized cottonmouth, I have seen them a lot larger then that. One cottonmouth my buddies and I killed and measured – it was close to 4 feet long and as big around as a mans wrist.

Cotton mouths have a head big enough to grab onto your leg, your arm,,, just about anywhere.

Cottonmouth Water Moccasin

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Becoming Complacent with Disaster Preparedness

As Hurricane Rita was making its way through the Gulf of Mexico in 2005, the projected path was towards the Houston and Galveston, Texas area. An evacuation was called for parts of Harris and Galveston counties. Which is where the cities of Houston and Galveston are located.

The way evacuations are “supposed” to work, the areas that are nearest the Gulf of Mexico are evacuated first. Which is Galveston, and lower Harris county. That is how its supposed to work in theory. In reality, how does one of the largest cities in the USA evacuate? They dont. There were stories of people spending 18+ hours on the highway and not even going 10 miles.

There are 2 major highways going north out of Houston – HWY 59 and HWY 45. Going east and west, there is Interstate 10, 1960, old HWY 90 and 105. HWY 105 is north of the Houston area. It goes from Beaumont, through Cleveland, Conroe and finally hits HWY 6.

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Hurricane Rita After Action Review

When Hurricane Rita made landfall it was the fourth-most intense Atlantic Hurricane ever recorded and the most intense tropical cyclone ever observed in the Gulf of Mexico. After Rita made landfall in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana, the storm caused $11.3 billion in damage.

The following story is my personal account of the days right before Rita made landfall, lessons learned, the actual landfall and the following days.

Wednesday morning it looked like Rita might hit Houston so my ex wife brought my youngest kids ages 9 and 11 to Bridge City Texas where my parents live, from there they (my kids and parents, not exwife) were going to evacuate to Jasper – to my house. Wednesday noon my 16 year old calls me, ask me to drive to Houston to get him out, my ex did not ask him if he wanted to leave before she left with the youngest children. At this time there was a voluntary evacuation of parts of lower Houston, Galveston area. So I left Jasper, drove to Houston, really the Bay town area to get my son.

1st lesson, have a full tank of gas going in and a plan for getting out.

Going into Houston was easy, everyone was going north – I was one of the few idiots going south. I was on HWY 96 headed south through Lumberton. Traffic was backed up through the entire city of Lumberton – 3 miles or so and 4 red lights. At this point I knew I was not going to be able to get back on HWY 96 north. I got on the phone with my wife, asked her to get on the internet – map quest, yahoo maps anything, and call her friends to see if they knew a way out of Houston using the back roads – she had about 2 hours till I needed the information. Going through Beaumont where 69-96 joins I-10, traffic was backed up for miles.

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80 years Old and Starting Over

80 years old and starting over, that was the sad reality of the facts. There was no denying that around 5 feet of flood water had gotten into the house and there was no denying that the couple did not have flood insurance. The hard wood flooring that everyone had liked so much, after the water went down the flooring swelled and split the walls. There was so much pressure generated from the swelling wood floors, that not only did the walls split, but some of them were pushed off the concert slab.

Having lived in Bridge City for most of their lives, neither the husband nor the wife had ever heard of the type of flooding that was on the way. Hurricane Ike was like a dark cloud in the distance, almost like a bad dream, but this dream was real. For decades Southeast Texas had avoided the critical strike of a major Hurricane.

In 1969, Hurricane Camille made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River.

In August of 1992, Hurricane Andrew was working its way towards Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana. But the wind currents turned Andrew to the North, and Andrew Made landfall around Morgan City, Louisiana.

In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the New Orleans area.

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