Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dirt Work Done

It's been an exciting day as Terry Snow did the dirt work needed to expand the dog yard. Here are some "before and after" images showing what was accomplished today. These are views of two different areas of the yard, shot from the same location:

Housing Area Before Dirt Work

Housing area after dirt work

Play area before dirt work

Play area after dirt work

Through the course of my employment I’ve witnessed some pretty amazing feats of civil engineering and skilled machinery operation. I’ve marveled at the power of the “yellow iron” and the ability of skilled operators to apply that power efficiently and effectively to “git ‘er done”. Alaska offers some of the most challenging problems on earth and Alaska’s operators who cope with those challenges each and every day are among the most skilled operators on the planet.

Today Terry Snow demonstrated a level of skill with a small machine to rival any of the very best. Terry arrived at the house to start work at 6:45 this morning. By 7:30 ALL of the brush was cleared, the edges of the big hole knocked down and the first load of fill was dumped and dozed into place.

This was all done with a dozer that is considered to be very small. I’ve seen small machines do big jobs before, but never with the precision that Terry displayed today.

To a large extent Terry was working in very close quarters, bound by the presence of one of my free run pens on one side, and the housing yard on another. Although I moved the two dogs closest to where he was working, the others needed to stay in place if possible.

Terry also faced an additional challenge. I asked Terry to try to preserve the larger birch trees in the yard, if possible. Summer days can see high temperatures as high as 99 degrees F (32.2 C), and my heavily furred dogs suffer terribly. Every bit of available shade is needed to help the dogs cope with those extreme temperatures.

To do the necessary work while preserving the trees required him to push brush and dirt at full power with the blade only an inch or less from the trunks of the trees, while staying aware of the obstacles presented by the pen and dog yard. Not only was he able to do it, he did it without worrying or upsetting the dogs housed right next to his work area.

There was no slam-bang iron rattling involved. Terry is one of the smoothest operators I’ve ever seen. Nor was the power of his machine wasted by spinning tracks. Terry seemed to have a sixth sense about the degree of traction offered by the surface under his machine. He was able to use every bit of available traction, and I don’t think I saw a track spinning more than twice during the entire job.

Terry did an excellent job for me, and now my own work begins again. It's time to put the fences back up, set up some new houses and circles, and plant some grass to prevent the work from being destroyed by erosion. I s'pose I'd best "git 'er done".

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