That’s What I’m Talkin About!

If you’re a gate guard in Louisiana, you know what I’m talkin about!

If you’ve spent much time on the Louisiana bayou or if you watch the History Channel, you know what I’m talkin about. The problem was, I was a gate guard in Texas and I didn’t know what anyone was talking about and now I know why.

The majority of the guys on Lantern 16, our initiation rig, were from Louisiana. They sounded just like Troy in this video except you need to add some chew to listen around.



And they thought I had a Canadian accent? Really? I’m not even from northern Iowa. 😀

No wonder all that time I spent listening to CD’s on How to Speak Cowboy and reading hints on deciphering a southern drawl didn’t help a bit. I’m such a Yankee, I didn’t even know that you could travel just one state to the east and be in both an entirely different world and hear an entirely different dialect. Add to that, the guys who weren’t from LA were from Texas and Mississippi. Carrying on a conversation was like channel surfing each time a different truck came in.

If I’d watched Swamp People, even once, before we took our first job I might have known what the guys were saying! Until I happened to catch an episode last fall, I had no idea that it wasn’t the southern drawl that had me stumped, it was Cajun.

It also explains why our time with 16 was so different from any other group we’ve been with since they went back to Louisiana in June. The guys were always proudly proclaiming how they could live off the land, and clearly they could … and do.

They caught wild hogs night after night right outside my window. They hung the snare on this branch.


It was weeks before I found out why the pigs were squealing all night long. I thought that was just what they did in Texas.:D



The guys would skin the hogs and cook them and cheerfully share their bounty with us. They hunted squirrel and rabbit and quail. They also shared tarantulas and snakes and scorpions and frogs and anything else they could catch 🙂 (Just for show and tell, not to eat)




We expect to be in this business for quite a few more years, and I’m sure we’ll work with a lot of fine folks. I’m also sure we’ll never meet any guys quite like these bayou guys. When they said we were family, they meant it.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about! 😀



I have to admit, you’ve got me stumped. Isn’t that an odd saying?  I can’t find the origin.

If you’re a politician, a stump is a campaign stop. If you’re from Iowa, like I am, there’s a whole lot of stumping up there.

If you’re a tree, well, I guess being stumped doesn’t bode well for your future, unless you’re The Giving Tree, where all stumps are redeemed.

Many years later, the boy, now an old man, returns and the tree sadly says, “I’m sorry, boy…but I have nothing left to give you.” But the boy replies, “I do not need much now, just a quiet place to sit and rest.” The tree then says, “Well, an old tree stump is a good place for sitting and resting. Come boy, sit down and rest.” The boy obliges and the tree was very happy.

Like the tree, I’m happy to give but I’d like to know more of what you want.

For the first 5 months, I posted daily. For the past 2, it’s been a few times a week. I just scrolled through the list of subscribers to Fork. I know 9 of you personally, none of whom are gate guard or live in Texas so I’m pretty sure that’s not why you read. A few of you I know through your blogs and the rest, well… hmm… And since only about 1/5 of you readers subscribe, I’m completely in the dark.

At this juncture, I thought it might be a good idea to ask you why you read Fork? It’s such an eclectic blog that I’m fairly certain the interest value for you must vary widely from post to post.

I’d like to know what you’d like more of?

Are there topics, within my limited areas of experience (note here that I’m saying experience, not expertise) that you’d like addressed?

Do you have questions about something from a previous post that I can answer, or attempt to answer?

I know some of you read because you’re interested in gate guarding. If there’s something you’d like to know about that, I’ll try to answer or send you on to other blogs that might help.

Since I’m not aspiring to get Freshly Pressed (you bloggers know that one) I’m not limited to by topic or style, so I’d welcome your input.

I will add one caveat. The web is such a public arena, so there’s a limit to how much personal information I want to share. After my last post you probably know more than enough about me anyway! 😀

I’m very open to making this a more interactive site. It’s always more interesting when other people comment.

I’ve heard from one person about what he doesn’t want here – politics and religion in particular.

I’m not well enough informed to offer political commentaries and I started my grace blog as a place to express the things I’m thinking about that reflect that aspect of my life.

So now’s your chance. What are some roads, well-traveled or overlooked, that you’d like to traverse here.  If I don’t hear from you, my next post is going to be about how I’m afraid of the man in my phone – so if you want to be spared that one, write a comment and let me know what you’re looking for when you click on Fork.

Not all arrive here via a search engine, but I’ll close with the things folks have typed in this week to land here. It might help explain my lack of direction.

As always, I’m honored that you read Fork. It truly mystifies me, but I’m honored. I appears that if I could just be a gate guarding,snake handler on the moon, this blog would be a smash! 🙂 ~dlb

2011-07-08 to Today

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Snake or Worm? Can You Tell by the Smell?

I’m just asking because I have a little wager going on with Billy and Chris. If I lose, I’ll have to give them more DUM DUM Pops (courtesy of Kit and Jerry). If I win, well, I’ll get the satisfaction of being right about something here in the Wild Kingdom of Texas. I’m sure they’ll get all the Pops they want either way. It’d just be a moral victory for me.

This is definitely an audience participation post.


Here’s how it went. The guys came in for their new tour around 1 am.

Chris is the Worm on the bottom of the Underdogs post.

Billy is a character.

They got in pretty late but still were feeling lively.

Billy said: “You’ve got yourself a little snake there.”

Because if it was Billy, I thought he was kidding, but no, I did have myself a little something.

It looked like a skinny night-crawler, moved like a snake and smelled like rotten eggs, or worse. Since I was in the process of writing the Underdogs post about Worms when they pulled up, I thought it would be a good idea to take a picture of it.

It wasn’t. I caught it, twice.

Of course it was squirmy and I didn’t have my camera so I had to bring it inside, where, I’m not kidding, it made the whole room smell like rotten eggs, or worse. I keep saying that because that’s the worst smell I can think of at the moment and it smelled worse.

It’s actually amazing anything that small, 10-12 inches, could smell that awful! I had to wash my hand about 11 times to get the scent off.

Anyway, I got the camera, took the slithery thing back outside, took pictures and watched him slink away to live to grow bigger another day. With no visible sign of a mouth, it sure looked like a worm to me. The guys still maintained that it was a snake. (I do think they were slightly impressed that I picked it up. ) So, here’s a picture.

What do you say, baby snake or worm? I’m thinking a worm that crawled through, or came from, something really nasty? Can Texas worms slither like lightning across a hard pack road?

I Googled Smelly Worms and Smelly Snakes.

There seem to be a wide variety of both. So cast your vote – my reputation as a worm handler is on the line.

I don’t think this looks at all like a snake. But then, I’ve never seen a newborn snake.

I have to say, though, that  in the Midwest, the worms were a lot slower.


racquetball Pictures, Images and Photos

Reading this blog  must be akin to being a spectator, standing in the middle of a racquetball court. You never know which wall the ball is going to come flying off of! I get it. I’ve got the racquet and I can’t see it coming either!

I was hoping that I’d find my voice, develop a steady style and land in some niche somewhere. I don’t see that happening.

I’m resigned to the fact that I have eclectic interests. In this past week, I’ve written about: Mighty Mouse, the Moon, Shaving in the Shower, Tarantulas, Blogging and Drilling a Well. It’s no wonder someone typed never turn fool at the fork in the road yesterday in their search engine and landed in an oil well in Texas! I added a new category tonight: You Betcha! for posts like this one that even I can’t tag.

I hadn’t planned on writing tonight. That all changed over a jar of Creamy Jiffy Peanut Butter. Heidi bought creamy by mistake.

Ron is one of our drillers.

Not only did he share his crock pot tarantulas, he also gave us a sack of squash that he brought back from his garden at home in Louisiana.

I stopped him on his way back in from town to see if he wanted the PB. He took it, drove a few yards and then backed right back up.

Look what’s in the road, he says. Maybe he’s a tarantula magnet? Of course, it could be me. There was that incident with the tiger shark in Oregon.

I came inside, grabbed my camera and started taking pictures, which is semi-remarkable since I’m rather terrified of spiders in general, even real little ones.

This particular tarantula was not only photogenic but seemed to be interested in establishing a relationship. I walked toward him and he rushed happily up to greet me. I thought they were suppose to be shy?

Photo op complete, it became apparent he had designs on the RV. Heidi strongly objected.

Ron, knowing that arachnophobs like me, don’t bond well with arachnids, jumped out of his truck, got a can and scoped him up.Sorry for the poor photography. It wasn’t my finest moment.

About an hour later, Ron made another trip to town. When he came backed, he pulled up and shut his engine off. If you’ve been following Fork, you know what that means. I’ve learned to just come back inside and get my camera before I even ask.

I knew you’d want to see this, he says.

As we were examining the snake, 2 scorpions scurried around his feet. One crawled into his slipper which he promptly kicked off his foot, straight at me (he apologized later).

We move to a new site tomorrow. It’s only 4 miles away. However, it’s not in a wheat field. I’m hoping our menagerie here is partial to wheat. I’m writing this at 10:30 pm. That means I have 8 more hours of darkness ahead and many trips to make out to the road.

All this time I thought the rustling I heard was the wheat blowing in the wind, even on the nights there wasn’t any wind. Now I know better.

I promise this is the last post with spider pictures unless I see one as big as a dinner plate (like my Sis did in her driveway in Tuscon). For a change of pace, I plan on writing on grief tomorrow night, of course, that could change.

Be prepared to duck!

Flying High in the Texas Sky

Butterfly kite

I have a good friend back home in Iowa who is taking a new picture every day for a year. Fascinating!

The past two days she’s posted kite photos.

She kindly gave me permission to use them in this blog.

The topic is particularly appropriate since April is National Kite Month!

Pterodactyl kite

According to the NKM calendar of events, kite flying is BIG in Texas.

Not as big as it was in Japan in 1760, when kite flying was banned altogether because too many people were flying kites instead of going to work. But still… kite flying remains very popular.

Drawing on the experiences of kite flying experts like Charlie Brown and Benjamin Franklin, and on my own observations these past 4 months as a gate guard, I thought it might be helpful to add some precautions for flying a kite in Texas.

1. Make it a BIG kite!

The average lasso is 30 feet long but it makes a doggone heavy kite string and adding that Texas flag really weighs it down! 😀

2. Look down!

If you’re looking up at your kite, you’re not maintaining an adequate vigil for vipers.

3. Look up!

If you’re looking down, you might lose your kite in a  live oak tree. You can tell a live oak by the fact the moss is trying to kill it. You can’t lose it in a dead oak tree because it won’t have leaves or moss and your kite will remain in plain sight.

4. Bring a 2nd kite!

The first one is bound to get lost forever in the great calche in the sky!

5. Bring a cell phone!

It’s April with temps already over 10o. By the time you’ve run far enough for to get your kite aloft, you’ll likely be in the throes of heat stroke.

6. Bring a 3rd kite!

If your 2nd kite crashes to the ground, the buzzards will think something has just died and will eat it before you get there.

7. Bring your own wind!

Some days the air here is as still as a possum playing dead.

8. Bring a map!

On the other hand, many days are extremely windy!

Flying kites on excessively windy days caused great concern in the 1900s in East Germany where large kites were banned, fearing they might lift people over the Berlin Wall.

Be prepared. If you fly a kite in Tyler on a windy day, you may end up in Shreveport.

9. Bring a 4th kite!

A prickly pear encounter could easily puncture your 3rd kite beyond repair.

10. Wear a hat!

If you lose your kite in any tree, while you’re scouring the branches for it, a snake may fall on your head. This happened to Kathy, our ranch owner. She didn’t specifically say if she was looking for a kite, but a snake did drop out of a tree onto her head

11. Holler, It’s a Kite! It’s a Kite!

Someone might confuse it with a real pterodactyl and shoot it down. I’ve seen stranger things. Let us harken back to the pigs on the fence posts.

I hope these tips will prove to be helpful! I think Benjamin Franklin got it right. If you’re going to fly a kite it Texas, get it in the air and hide in the barn.

This post was inspired by and is dedicated to my photo-taking friend! Thanks, Kari!