A Day Gate Is Better Than No Gate

Posted by on January 30, 2016

*Some of you may have gotten a ‘draft’ version of this post a few days ago…sorry about that…this is the REAL/FULL version.

First gate location - just off FM 4425

First gate location – just off FM 4425

Tuesday morning we were up bright and early…ok….so maybe not bright since it was 4:45 am and the sun doesn’t come until after 7:00 am!

We followed Shawn to the location of the day gate we’d been assigned to….about 50 miles away…about 6 miles northwest of Dilley off of a dirt road.  Shawn gave us a few specifics and was off.

The first two days we parked inside the gate just off of FM 4425.  But on Thursday the landowner came by and told us he wasn’t really worried about that gate staying closed as he was about one inside  that gate about a mile further down.

The second gate goes between his land and the land of his neighbor and where the actual well is located.  He wanted to make sure that that gate stayed close so that his cows didn’t mingle with his neighbors cows.  It seems that his cows are more ‘trained’ than his neighbors and are much easier rounded up if they happen to get loose.

So after talking with the company man and letting him know the landowners thoughts we moved to the second gate inside the first gate and stayed there the remainder of the time we worked.

This job had us working for a little tiny oil company (Hat Creek Energy) who have less than 10 wells in the area…4 of which are here on this ranch.

Workover Rig as it came in

Workover Rig as it came in

We were just there to man the gate while a ‘slick line’ crew and workover rig came in to do whatever it was they needed to do…probably something like opening up a well that’s in production and not producing like it should be.  They open the well up, insert some tools, pipes, whatever and possibly clean it out so that the oil can flow more freely.

Tuesday was kind of an ‘icky’ day….rainy, overcast, muddy and cold (high of 47).  I logged the first few vehicles of the day and then Michael took care of everything for the remainder of the day as his shoes/pants were already muddy and he didn’t want both of us getting muddy and dirtying up his truck since the gate has to be closed and opened for each vehicle.

While Tuesday was ‘icky’ the rest of the days were gorgeous…although the days started out on the chilly side – anywhere from the high 20’s to the high 30s but warming up anywhere from the low 60s to low 80s as the days progressed.  With just a light breeze on most days we were able to sit outside the truck, hunkered under the shade made by the truck.


Sleeping on the job

We were able to keep busy between surfing the internet (good service here!), reading, playing games on our laptops or playing cribbage or gin.  Michael was even able to take a few naps.  I was able to read 4 different books from my Kindle while we sat at this gate.  That’s a LOT for me since I usually only read for a while before I go to sleep at night and book normally takes me about a week to finish.

Game playin'

Game playin’

I made some kind of breakfast sandwich/taco/whatever for breakfast each morning and we’d eat them in the truck on the hour-long ride each morning.  A couple of mornings we stopped and picked up kolaches or breakfast tacos on the way to work.  I packed snacks to munch on throughout the day and we’d either have sandwiches for lunch….or since we brought our Weber Q along we had burgers, hot dogs, sausages or brats….that kinda thing.

Not a whole lot of wild life to keep me entertained but we did have some interesting sightings…although brief. Some cows wandered by one day…although they acted like chickens and scampered off when I tried to take their picture.

Our 'deer' friends came to visit

Our ‘deer’ friends came to visit

One afternoon we had 6 deer show up in the field across the road.  I rolled down the window to get a better view and they stared and me while we stared at them and then the slowly turned around and walked into the woods.

As we left the gate one night we spotted something in a field with our headlights.  Michael ended up having to back up and shine the lights on them again so that we could figure out what it was….big pigs!  Not sure if they were domestic or wild (javelinas) but I would think they were wild.  Who knows?

LOTS of these lying around...

LOTS of these lying around…

I also came across several ‘seashells’….that I’m assuming are snails cuz there’s some black gooey looking stuff in them.  The shells are very pretty but seems strange to find them in a cow pastureish setting.

We even saw a Buck & doe on side of road on way to work one morning.  They were just down the road from each other on opposite sides of the street.  Planning a rendezvous, perhaps??

We got a visit from the “Candy Man” one morning.  He came to pick up the well-head and told Michael his name and then said he was better known as the “Candy Man”.  His nickname was made evident when he handed Michael a 5-pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Sweet treats from the Candy Man

Sweet treats from the Candy Man

The Candy Man returned 2 days later with the well-head all tidied up and handed Michael another package of Reese’s and a package of Almond Snickers to go with it!  We have enough chocolate to last us a while now!  Nice man.

The gate was supposed to last 2-3 days but ended up lasting 5 as they had some issues on the first day and the well-head maintenance took a little longer than expected.  But the gig wasn’t bad as we were together and were able to pass the time fairly well.  However, the hour commute each way was more than we cared for as our schedule looked a bit like this:

Get up at 4:45 am, leave at 5:15 am, arrive gate 6:20-6:25 am.  Leave gate between 6:15 pm and 6:30 pm.  Arrive home between 7:20 pm and 7:30 pm (one night it was about 8:10 pm) if we needed to make stops.  In bed between 8:20 pm and 8:40 pm.  Repeat.

We were very surprised on Saturday when everybody pulled out just a few minutes after 11:00 am and we were told we were done!  Woohoo!  We were both very happy to be done so early in the day.  We made a quick stop at Pacho Garcia’s Cafe in Dilley for some lunch and then headed home and took a nice nap!

Now we hope for a few days a relaxation at home, a couple of good nights sleep and then we’ll be ready for the next gate….wherever that might be!


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