Friday, July 28, 2017

Making Progress

It has been a while since we blogged. We got sort of burned out after all of the Alaska blogs, but we're still at Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area in NE Oregon and doing fine.

You might recall from a previous blog that our main task is to get the Volunteer RV site cleaned up and ready for future volunteers. The biggest part of that job was to get the workshop/storage building fixed up. When we arrived the building had holes in the walls, mice inside, and was looking tired.

The first job was basic clean-up. I tackled the outside with a heavy-duty weedeater, while Teri took on the interior with a dust mask and shop-vac. Oh, and plenty of wasp spray!!

Next came replacing the siding on the south side of the building. The weather had taken it's toll and there was no way to salvage this side. So we stripped it off. Notice the holes in the side. Woodpeckers and/or rodents!!

With the old siding stripped off we thought that attaching new siding would be quick and easy. What we hadn't realized was how crooked this building is. Not a square corner or vertical line to be found! Placing the first sheet of siding up revealed that the building was out-of-plumb by about 4" top to bottom. Look at how the edges of the sheet (don't) line up with the corner or the studs. 

With the old horizontal strip siding the alignment hadn't made much difference, but with 4' x 8' sheets you need something vertical to nail to. So we found ourselves adding addition studs to make these new sheets work. Once we got that finished we put on fresh tar paper and started attaching the new siding. 

With the new studs we got the rest of the sheets up and primed in no time. 

The final steps on the outside were to paint and trim. The refuge had a brand-new paint sprayer still in the box that made quick work of the painting. The color? Why Barn Red of course!!

With the terrible tilt on the building trimming the corners to look decent was a challenge. We wanted the trim on the new side to look vertical to match the lines in the siding, but needed it to be flush with the other wall. If you look close you'll see that the trim boards are tapered from bottom to top. Custom trim, by Mark & Teri!!  Once painted it looks pretty good. 

We'll tackle the inside next time.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Change of Scenery!!

After four months at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, we decided that it was time to move on. We'd completed our major projects and had a couple of minor misunderstandings with the management there. We felt like we were looking mostly at emptying garbage cans and sorting through recycling for the next couple of months. We've never left a volunteer gig early, but neither of us was looking forward to more time there so we "gave our notice" and headed south.

We had spoken with Oregon Fish and Wildlife a couple of summers ago about their opportunities, so we reached out to them again to see what they had available for July and August. We received a couple of different offers, and selected Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area in northeastern Oregon.

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area is just over 6000 acres in size, and protects one of the largest remaining wetlands in NE Oregon. While much of the area is wet meadow and marsh, the refuge also includes prairie grasslands, upland shrub, and conifer habitats. It is designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) it is also home to many mammals include elk herds.

Our job is a simple one. Get the RV volunteer area cleaned up and fixed up. It has been a few years since they had an RV volunteer, and the manager would like to make the site more attractive to future volunteers.

The RV pad is on an old homestead site. We are in a grove of large trees (Black Locust and Walnut) planted by the former residents. They provide welcome shade and lots of habitat for birds. We are completely surrounded by nesting Tree Swallows along with many other species of birds.
Tree Swallow in Nesting Box

Bullock's Oriole

Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker

Our view is our over a huge marsh, with the Blue Mountains in the background. We're told that herds of elk will be coming down from the mountains and will feed in this meadow in August.

There are two outbuildings on the site that are pretty run down. This one is supposed to house a washer and dryer, but we haven't found the key yet to check it out!  Hopefully those appliances will be working when we get in there, but it sounds like the building hasn't been open in several years. We'll get a chance to spruce those buildings up and get things working.

Compared to Washington's Olympic Peninsula this is a warmer, drier, and sunnier area. We are running the A/C to keep cool in the afternoon, but with the low humidity it is always comfortable in the shade. 

We look forward to our first workday on Monday morning, where we will find out what exactly we've gotten ourselves into for the next couple of months.