The Field Is in Session

It was a nice day to be “in the field,” which is an odd but apt phrase when you write it down and look at it. A bit cool in the morning, but warm in the sun, with a constant breeze that sometimes swept the warmth away. Brandon Barker joined me today, wanting a chance to give his new DSLR a test run. I think I was supposed to help with some detailed instruction on settings, but I confess I forgot as the day wore on and simply enjoyed the niceness of the day, visiting with some of the folks I’ve come to know, and showing Brandon a few bits of the Louisiana landscape.

We headed straight out to the Olinger Repair Shop, packed a bit more tightly in the truck than I would like. The cab of the Isuzu is perfect for me, my gear, and the usual extras I pack “just in case” (dry socks, rubber boots, towel), but two people both with, albeit small, gear bags are crowded. Perhaps it is time to upgrade the truck.

We arrived at the shop just as a tractor truck stopped in front of the shop. It was pulling a flatbed trailer with a large piece of agricultural gear on the back. It turned out that the piece of equipment was a roller-packer and that it’s new owner was Chip Link, who had bought it sight unseen, but from a reputable dealer, in Tennessee. Link had no way to get the packer off the trailer at his farm, so he had instructed the driver to drop off the packer at the Olinger shop. Link consulted with Gerard and Dale, and they then instructed the driver to pull into a clearing on the far side of the shop — it’s the same spot where Dale’s combine now rests and where I’ve helped power wash PTO ditchers.

Gerard and Dale got on either side of the flatbed trailer with forklifts and carefully raised the packer up. Once it was clear, I was given the job of telling the driver to pull forward, pulling the trailer out from under the raised gear, which was then lowered to the ground. Brandon photographed the whole affair:

Rayne Fieldwork 2-6 022

Afterwards, Chip Link stayed to inspect his “new” piece of equipment and to begin the necessary work of refitting it for use in the coming season. I headed indoors to visit some with Gerard and Dale and to let Brandon have a chance to see what the inside of a working metal shop looks like. I regret I did not give him more of a tour, but he seemed readily at ease and wandered away to try out his camera.

In the mean time, Dwayne Gossen stopped by, looking for a small part that would allow him to test the lines of a pump he was working on. I introduced Brandon to Dwayne, and for the first time I saw Dwayne relax a bit and tell a few stories. It was nice to see.

At some point I gave Brandon the task of documenting one of the many crawfish boats sitting out in front of the shop. I showed him the compass method I use myself and gave him suggestions not only on detail shots that might be worth his while but also on using a tape measure to document the size of an object as well as the advisability of shooting a few “art” shots along the way. With only a few words, he borrowed my tape measure and settled into the task. I am curious to see what his results were.

After lunch with Gerard at Frog City, I thought I would drive Brandon around a bit to see if we couldn’t find a boat in action. No such luck, but we did find this boat along Hwy 365 just east of Richard:


The drive unit looks like something by Mike Richard, but the motor is on the left side, not the right. It’s a Honda engine, which is something he would use and the nose of the boat and the external wheels are both Richard elements. But the drive unit is mounted to the hull with something that looks more like one of Kurt Venable’s pods and the bearing that allows the drive unit to float up and down looks like the kind that Gerard Olinger makes. The boat is both an enigma and … as I noted in my Facebook post, **folklore gold**.