Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cows, Fences, Weeds and... Deer?

1 cow, 2 cow... overall about 55 cows we counted on
one of the pastures. Got Milk?
The weeks I feel are starting to go by faster and faster here at GETT. This week was week 7 of 10, and it was spent with many different people in Resource Management! To start the week off, I was with Dafna, our parks fire coordinator and woman of many more talents as I would best describe her. She is a wealth of knowledge, and I can say I learned more about plants then I would think I would ever know, and now know what to avoid and what I can hike through. We spent the first part of the day locating endangered plants on the battlefield so that we could map them. The reason they map the area exactly where they are located is so that when they start working on protecting the endangered resource, and monitoring them to see how they progress, they know exactly where to go. To finish my day with Dafna, we went to go count horses and cows on some of the pastures of the battlefield that are leased to local farmers. This is definitely something that working at a national military park I would have never expected to do! The reason we have to count them is because in the lease the farmers agree to, there is a clause saying that they are only allowed a certain number of animals so that they don’t over graze the fields, and if they have more than agreed to, they have to remove them. I thought things around the park couldn’t get more interesting than this, but obviously I didn’t know what I was talking about.

GPS Mapping Device I used to get coordinates
points for our fence map!
Ever think you would map fences on a park line to within 2 inches of where you are standing? Or think that you would be marking a park boundary to within 5 centimeters of your location? I never did, but this was something I was able to do when I spent the second day of the week with our map maker Curt. I had the chance to first learn about the computer software he uses called GIS to make the maps, and also learn about the handheld device that is used to get these locations to within inches of where you are. We then went out in battlefield and put the device to work, and also tested my orienteering skills, which I must say I did a great job if I say so myself! We did some boundary work for our weed crew so they knew just where they could spray up to without going onto private property. Next I mapped new fence line that was put on the battlefield, and using that information to finish off the day with using the software I was shown earlier to make a map with the information I collected. Seeing it all come together was a amazing thing to see, and gave me a good sense of accomplishment in what I did that day and how much I was able to learn about the program!

In place of cool guns, this is a construction project
going on in the park we checked on during our
lunch break! Timber!
Let me start off with asking another question. Did you ever think that you would be doing inventory on Civil War artifacts that over 150 years old? Well I thought about it but never thought that I would get the chance to do so. Dreams do come true though everyone, so keep on dreaming because I was lucky enough to work with our curatorial/archival staff for two days and it was amazing. The first day I spent with Winona, who showed me the ins and outs of every part of job, and filled my brain with a ton of information that I am glad I got the chance to learn about. I was also tasked to scan old photos onto a thumb drive for some regional workers who were at the park doing some research of their own, and I can say it was amazing looking at these old photographs. But it got better from there! The next day I was with Greg and his intern Lauren, who do more of the hands on tasks with the artifacts. I spent the day helping Lauren do inventory of the artifacts in the storage room. It was amazing that I was able to look at the stuff in there, especially all of the civil war weapons they had, which is my specialty and interest, and Lauren was kind enough to let me do the inventory on them! We finished the inventory that day, as she told me I was a huge help that it would have probably taken her a week if she had done it herself, and as always I was glad I was able to help! Unfortunately, I couldn’t get pictures, but the memories will last a life time. Each day at GETT gets more interesting, and that would be especially true for the next day, Friday, my final day of the week!

My Weed Killing Backpack!
My final day with resource management was spent with the spray crew, who are responsible for going out and spraying invasive species of weeds in order to protect what plants are supposed to be here. Chris and Kristine are the two who would teach me exactly what invasive weed we were spraying for looked like, and why they were labeled as invasive. But first we had to get our backpacks ready. Yes, I said backpack, but maybe not the ones your used to. These backpacks hold the weed killer and other agents that get mixed with it, and attached is the sprayer itself. We set out that day and walked about 3 to 4 miles of the park in different locations to spray for what is called “mile a minute”. I eventually got really good at locating it, and we did a number on the invasive weed in some of the locations we went. What I didn’t expect to almost step on 3 deer, one of which scared the crap out of me because I was so close and couldn’t see it. Two of the deer were baby fawns (they looked about 4-6 months old) that had bedded down in the high grass, and since they were so small I couldn’t see them, but luckily they jumped up before I got a few steps to close.  The mother though decided not to do that, as I got so close without seeing her that when she jumped up her tail hit me in the face. I got scared not for the fact that I could have gotten kicked or anything, but that something was in front of me in the middle of a wide open quiet field. But overall it was quite a day with getting to see the deer, and learning why they spray for the weeds, and just how hot their work is. I say hot because they are the only ones in the summer that are required to wear long sleeves, and let me tell you, it gets hot with them and a backpack on your back! So at the end of the week I got one piece of advice for everyone. While walking in a field, be aware of deer!


  1. Nick that is amazing all that needs to be done at the park. I must say I was lol when you were talking about the deer scaring you. I knew the artifacts would be your favorite. Can't wait to see what's next. Keep enjoying.

  2. Nick that is amazing all that needs to be done at the park. I must say I was lol when you were talking about the deer scaring you. I knew the artifacts would be your favorite. Can't wait to see what's next. Keep enjoying.