Lessons Learned South Dakota Style

I’m having a hard time trying to organize my thoughts for this journal entry.  I was told to write about what I have learned and gotten out of this summer.  But it shouldn’t be just about work.  I was told, “For example, maybe write about what it was like to live an hour and a half from the nearest Walmart.   People like to hear personal stories.”  When thinking about what I have learned or experienced, Walmart never once popped into my mind.  But here are a few things that did.

I learned that even if everyone says tick season is over, it never actually is.  I’ve been hearing this for the past couple of weeks, and two days ago I pulled eight off in one day, and one a day for the three days before that.  I have yet to get Lyme disease, but that is only by the miracle that no ticks have made it up into my hair where it would take shaving my head to find them.  I’ve also experienced my first chigger bite, or I should say my first dozen chigger bites. 

Just yesterday it was reinforced that I could do things on my own even if I have never done it before and if I felt like I couldn’t.  I went out to record the different species of plants that were found near the creek that runs by the driveway using something called the step-point method which is where you take a predetermined amount of steps in one direction and at the last step you look at what plant is touching your boot tip.  My plant ID has gotten better than when I first started here, but I still didn’t think it would be sufficient to name the plants I saw.  Another problem that presented itself was that the method I was using would have worked better in much shorter vegetation.  When I stepped what ended up touching my boot was a bent over piece of grass instead of the base of a plant.  I ended up trying to dig around to find exactly what plant I needed in order to be as accurate as I could, which was time consuming.  It was also frustrating when I couldn’t find the plant in the ID book I had with me.  But lo and behold, I completed my task and what didn’t get identified I took home for a second look-through with the book.  I’ve had many similar cases throughout the summer where I think to myself, “Luke honestly thinks I can do this alone?”  And most of the time it turned out that he was right. 

Most everything I did here probably took me at least twice as long as it takes Luke or Lyle to do, but it was all a learning experience for me.  I knew it before this summer, but it was reinforced that if you want to do something right, you may need to take extra time to do it.  And the extra time will be reflected in the output and its quality. 

Along with taking the time to do things right, asking questions is strongly encouraged especially if the answer will speed up your project.  I remember the first or second time I had to roll up the temporary polywire and something went wrong (actually something usually goes wrong when I roll up polywire, but that’s a whole other story).  Instead of calling the house and figuring out how I could do it faster, I rolled it up by hand which seemed like it took 2 1/2; hours, which it very well could have.  When I got back I showed someone the spool that wouldn’t turn for me, and easy enough they showed me how to make it turn which could have saved me an hour and a half. 

I learned to be prepared.  If I get sent out to do something on my own chances are that I would forget some critical piece of equipment.  Whether it was a spare pen to write things down if I lost the one I had (which happened more than once) or if it was a post pounder that I forgot I needed because 5 1/2; foot steel posts don’t just drive themselves into the ground.  Many times I was far from the thing I forgot, so I had to waste more time going back to get it.  Needless to say, I have been getting better at double checking my equipment before I leave the yard.

There is more that I learned, but I don't want to bore you all in one sitting.  Stay tuned for another exciting post about my experiences in South Dakota.

To be continued…

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