Seems like I've abandonned this blog within the last few months. If I was extremely busy and working in isolated camps (two three weeks stints in fly-in camps without getting out of the bush) during the season, I had plenty of time since I've returned home in early September. The problem is, I really didn't want to talk about anything planting.
Now, it seems I can get some perspective again and I should post lots of pictures and stories about my 2009 experience, and I should get on this as soon as I can. Until then, here's a great music video of the Tree Planter's Waltz by Smoky Tiger, featuring Baba Brinkman and Emily Ray, inspired by the Log Driver's Waltz by John Weldon and sung by Eunice Macauley. The footage at the beginning is from a 1977 documentary called "Do it with joy" following Dirk Brinkman's crew, planting trees with hoedads.
This is what every tree deliverer or foreman dreads: Getting stuck in front of a bunch of planters
Getting stuck happens in the bush. And it doesn't need much! Dirt roads can get muddy quickly. Imagine after a week of uninterrupted rain! When you are rushed by time, needing to get trees somewhere before the planters run out or even get there, it adds an undesired stress factor.
But getting stuck in front of a crew of unhelping planters, who are judging, describing and "documenting" every move, might make the situation worst, mostly if the driver's pride is affected and he starts using doubtful methods to get the truck out(and further).
It was probably not the best way to get a truck unstuck. The truck's canopy is obviously full of boxes, elevating the vehicle's center of gravity, which, as you can see, makes the truck tilt.
Also, going forward might not have been the best idea, as the road is quite steep just after the mud hole. In this case, the driver was probably not only thinking of getting out, but also of getting further along the road to deliver the trees.
Putting sticks in front of the wheels is efficient, but they need to be well placed and you usually need to put sticks in front of more than one tire, planning where the wheels will go. You also need to make sure you let the tire grip on the sticks.
And it won't always work.
It's also possible that sticks couldn't be placed efficiently behind the stuck tire, but putting them in front, advancing the truck slightly and then putting sticks behind the tire in order to go backwards could have helped. Furthermore, getting out backwards instead of forward could have been helped by the huge planter workforce pushing the truck out. A process that might have been dangerous if they were to push the truck forward.
Instead, the driver, with the initial help of the sticks, just pushed the truck half way through the deep hole, messing up with his tail gate in the process and worsening the situation, as the truck is now hopelessly stuck.
Of course, my analysis could be wrong, as a video doesn't tell everything, but it seeems that if the mud hole couldn't necessarily be avoided, the truck could have got out of this hole relatively quickly. Of course, the need to get further, people observing or the simple thought that he could get out (I could have done the same thing) probably made the time constraint worse...
Here's a nice heli pilot dropping a load of boxes besides a heli platform.
The problem? It's on British-Columbia's coast, and it's quite steep! After the drop, the treeplanter have to do some extra work to get the boxes back up, displaying a handling method that would make most client foresters or checkers shriek in agony. But it's not like there's any alternatives and this might have been done by many tree planters, tree runners and foremen throughout history (including yours truly...maybe). And to the pilot's defense, it's not like there was plenty of space to drop the load...
And you know what's great? He just go get the boxes, no bitching (that we know of)...there's nothing he can do and those trees need to be planted.
In the next video, you can see the same dude planting in the snow. Notice how different the pace is on the coast, with higher quality standards than most places (yet, they don't always need to kick the hole shut) and high tree prices, mostly when compared to the sheer speed necessary to make any money out east.
On an ending note, some coastal planters have already started planting. Expected conditions: Some snow and lots of rain on steep terrain...
While planting, there's a few things you see plenty of: Peanut butter, duct tape, zippers.
If your contract isn't based out of a motel, logging or outfitter camp (often called motel show), there's big chances that many everyday life necessities will come with a zipper: Tent, sleeping bag, rain jacket...Therefore, there's a big chance than some of those zippers, confronted to the extremes of climate, wilderness and personal abuse will break.
And trust me, there's nothing worse than a zipper breaking off on a buggy night.
To avoid getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, many planters will jump in their tent, opening and closing the entrance as fast as possible to let as few little buggers as possible in. Repeated a minimum of four times a day, usually more (a tent is the perfect place to feel an urge to pee at 3AM, but there's a solution to this as well; a piss bottle!) for at least 2 months, often more, and combined with dust and rain, it's no wonder than many zippers won't zip.
Therefore, the first tip is to simply take your time. It won't be the end of the world if a few bugs get in! If you'd rather have them all dead before going to bed, use a lamp and hunt them down, it shouldn't be too hard! The same applies for anything else, from your hoodie to your sleeping bag. The label might say it will resist to -10 celsius, but if it isn't sealed, you'll shiver yourself to sleep!
But even the best zippers might finally give up after years of loyal services. It's 11PM, you're tired, the bugs won't let you rest and the chick/dude you had your eyes on just hooked up with someone else! Don't panic, you won't have to sleep in the bus/crummy/minivan yet!
Here's the trick: Simply use pliers to press the sides of the zipper. Don't press too hard, as you'll block the mechanism, but just force the sides closer, it should do the trick.
It's not a trick you can do over and over again, as you'll end up breaking the zipper permanently, but it will save your ass in case of emergency and will usually allow you to finish the season, or at least the shift before considering replacing the defective piece of equipment.
Also, here's what former planter Chomko had to add to the subject:
"Zippers often break cuz they're full of dirt. If you take Mink oil or Silicone (the kind of stuff normally used to waterproof boots) and rub it on the zipper, a cloth will take off both the dust/dirt and the oil and you'll be good to go.
Also, there are tent stores that will replace your zippers if you have a warranty on them."
Enjoy your "retirement", miss. Think of us while enjoying the "real world"...