Saturday, November 19, 2005

Rambling Thoughts from a Rambling Job

I have been conspicuous in my absence from local functions I regularly attended. Primarily, I have a new job, oilfield service, chemically treating wells. The hours prevent my attendance at many functions, but the job has some side benefits worth mentioning.

The wells go where the oil is and I go where the wells are, and in the process I regularly travel areas as far off the roads as one can get. The fellow bleating in the paper about “spawl” reaching unabated to the border needs to get out more. Trust me, we still have plenty of “miles and miles of miles and miles” as someone put it. We have lots of spectacularly beautiful country within a 100 mile radius of San Angelo.

The job has also shown me up close the value of looking to desalination of brackish water for a long term source. I use the stuff every day and as far as I can tell, it is everywhere around us. The quality and content vary, and one thing we will be doing is locating the most abundant fields and water that needs the least remediation, but as far as availability in general, we have hundreds of years' of supply close at hand, we just need to combine source and the right technology to get the lowest cost of high quality end product.

While we avoid anything like endorsing candidates for office, credit where it is due, Scott Campbell started early and got us to the top of the list for the joint San Angelo/UCRA pilot project with a $300,000 grant from the state. The timing is excellent. We have plenty of time to evaluate this project. As noted in an earlier posting, San Angelo is way short of using our Ivie Pipeline allocation, we are not tapping our local resevoirs, we have several years to tinker with this idea and perfect it as a backup to our existing supply.

A totally separate issue, one of the things common on the back country rambles is coming on virtual trailer parks in the middle of nowhere, anything from beat-up pups to rock star sized Winebagos, clumped together. They are not Katrina refugee sites, they are deer hunter camps. My comment, good luck to you all, and bagging the limit should be easy. Let the slaughter commence and fill them freezers.

Seriously, I am surprised the bag limits have not been raised if not removed this year. Two good wet years have resulted in a population explosion. The roadkill exceeds anything I have ever seen, and once I get backcountry, the deer seem to have bred like Australian bunnies. I could have nearly bagged my limit running into them with the truck. There are some leases where I will go a couple of hours and never be out of visual contact with at least a couple of deer. Many of them are almost fearless. I have a picture of three does standing about fifty yards from where I am noisily pumping flush water. They are placidly gazing at me in mild curiosity as they munch on grass and salt cedar. Gunshot hell, I could have thrown rocks and hit them!

No, I don't hate Bambi, but there are simply too many of them. The next bad year for rangeland will have deer starving by tens of thousands and in the process eating farmers' crops to a nub and creating a really nasty road hazard as they move to right-of-way grass. So far, most of the animals still appear well fed, but as winter gets harsh, or if next year is dry, we will literally have deer eating lawns and shrubbery all over San Angelo.

I don't know yet how quickly such things can be done, but we seriously need changes in hunting regulations, at least in this part of Texas. The season ought to be extended, and the limit raised. One idea I like from other states, hunters have to “earn” bucks by taking does. Hunting for horns does nothing to reduce population growth.

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