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Gate Guarding Highlights

After my cruise back in April, I returned to the same gate. It was an odd time due to us being released from the gate while I was on the cruise and my 5th wheel ordered off the property. One of the support guys and the young fellow that was covering for me had to take everything in and close the trailer up per detailed instructions I left for them on how to do that in case this happened. My trailer was moved somewhere though I don’t know where. There was minor damage done to the trailer, something lost, some small things broken. There is always a chance of being released while on vacation which is one of the cons of gate guarding and of allowing someone else to stay in your RV. If you pull your RV off the gate for vacation, you have to wait for a new gate when you get back which can be awhile during the cooler months when there are more guards than gates. When I was ready to find my trailer and go back to work on another gate, we got recalled to the same gate again on the Calvert Ranch so back I went. The trailer had been moved for only a day (maybe less) before it was recalled. That’s the strange way the oil patch works.

I liked the Calvert Ranch. It was my second gate with cows. Cows are fun to watch and like to keep you on your toes. These cows were not at all afraid of me and were a bit mischievous. At any time I might step out and find my RV and truck surrounded by them. I had to watch out for them possibly trying to stomp or eat my electrical and water connections. If you leave your vehicle windows down, you may find your seat headrest eaten when you get back. More than once I saw a cow look at an approaching vehicle, purposely step out in front of it, and stand there smiling as they blocked traffic. Cows are not dumb by any means. Every day they came by and mooed at the other cows in the next pasture. The chatting would go on for quite awhile. One day, there was a lot of fun going in in the next pasture where all the calves and younger cows were playing. One of my cows decided he wanted in on that and went right through the wire fence at a point where the upper wire was sagging. Another day, the sun was shining and everything had turned green. The very short Spring down here had sprung. The cows were all trying to mount each other and I don’t just mean males on females. LOL. It was fun to watch. Gate guards get lots of entertainment from both the ranch animals and other local animals like road runners, turtles, coyotes, strays, etc.

Calvert cowCalvert Ranch Cows

Clouds, sunsets, and the moon also provide entertainment. Texas has great clouds. We often spend time looking up to see what shapes are in the sky today. I have seen ducks, rabbits, Mickey Mouse, naval ships, the starship Enterprise, and once a Klingon warship. EEK! We take pictures of the sunsets and moon to share on our Facebook group with each other in sort of a nightly competition. In some ways, we are like the angels on the beach at sunset or those who gather at the marina in Key West, FL. at dusk to share a heavenly experience. I like to take pictures of birds, wildflowers, trees, and cactus too.

Klingon Warship Over TexasTexas SunriseYellow Tree

Once a month we have separate luncheons for men and women (time away from working 24 hours a day with your spouse). I normally can’t attend them but had the chance to go to two of them while doing a 12 hr. guard job. Aside from the good food and not having to cook for a change, it’s good to talk to others who do the same job and live the same lifestyle. I got some good tips at the luncheons I attended and made some new friends. It’s always good to be able to put a face with the names I always see on Facebook.

Gate Guard Ladies Luncheon

Sometimes caterers come in to feed the crews. If a guard is lucky, they MAY get one of the catered meals after everyone else is fed. I have had gates with no catering, catering that made no effort to set aside a meal for me, and catering that almost always had a meal for me too. You learn to recognize them coming in but not to count on them. Quite often they come back out the gate very late so you are better off eating at a normal time and saving anything you get from them till tomorrow for lunch. Sometimes you get steak! One caterer seemed to only know how to cook pork. It was good but not day after day. My favorite was breaded catfish and shrimp with coleslaw.

I like to get to know the rancher and his/her family a bit if possible. It’s fun waving them in and chatting with them. I have made food for them on occasion and they sometimes bring me something special like the three plates of BBQ and desserts the wonderful family at the Calvert Ranch brought me on Easter this year.

Easter BBQ from rancher

It’s also fun decorating our gates for the holidays or wearing something goofy any time to make the oil workers smile. I like to give out cups of popcorn, slices of cake, candy, or muffins now and then.

4th of July gateEaster Bunny ears and carrot of candyXmas Moose gate

Gates can go from good to bad to good in the blink of an eye depending on what activity is going on. There are various stages of work to go through before a well goes into production and even after that there can be high traffic for awhile. Sometimes we sit there waiting for work to start. That can go on for months! Traffic is minimal then with only planners and company men coming in. It increases a little when crews come in to get things ready to start. It increases a lot when the gravel trucks start rolling in to build the worksite or pad up. Texas is one big mud hole when it rains so lots of gravel is needed. Then the rig, crews, and all that is needed to support them is moved in as quickly as possible. Some crew will live onsite in trailers and bunkhouses. Office trailers are moved in too. As soon as everything is setup, it slows down to a nice rhythm. They may drill one hole or several holes. Eventually they finish drilling and they haul everything back out as fast as possible. Busy, busy, busy again. We may get a break in traffic days, weeks, or even months before the next phase starts or it may start immediately. Schedules here change all the time and you never know when you will be woken up in the night as the next crew and equipment move in or you get released, have to be out in 2 hours, and are out of work until the next gate. If they drop a tool down the well, things could come to a stop for awhile until they fish it out so traffic eases up while they fish. If there is a problem with the next site on the schedule, they may skip it and show up at your gate without warning to work your pad instead.

How hard a gate is also depends on many other things such as traffic, weather, whether you have to open and close the gate in between vehicles and if that is 24 hours or just at night. Working in pouring rain, mud, and 100+ temps sucks! Some gates are only open for 12 hours then you can close them and leave for awhile, some are shared with another guard so that each does 12 hours and then can leave if they want, some are active for only 12 hours but you must be there for 24 hours, and some are active 24 hours a day. Most involve living onsite in your RV at the gate with full utilities provided via a support trailer. Some now have guard shacks you have to drive to while living offsite and others require working out of your vehicle for 12 hours at a time day in and day out. YUCK! I’m currently on a gate where all I have to do is open my door and wave at them while watching to make sure they don’t hit my gate. Another guard at the entrance gate up the road logs them in and out. Thank goodness because the outside temp is 100 degrees.

Guarding in MudMuddy gate

That’s all a part of gate guarding!

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