This is kind of a continuation of my last blog... about our latest adventure ... being gate guards in Southwest Texas....
The company that we'll be working for puts us up in their own RV Park until they have a gate for us. Gate Guarding is a serious business down here in southwest
Texas... there are a lot of companies drilling for
oil, and business is booming. Much of
this land is owned by private landowners and is used as cattle range. Some is used as game preserves... both for indigenous animals such as deer or
turkey, and some have exotic animals from Africa,
like oryx or other deer-like critters.
So there's a lot of fenced land here.
You see very little road-kill and I'm guessing that the high fences keep
the fatalities down.
This big guy came to visit us yesterday... I don't know if he's a "domestic" or an import... I can only say that the goats we raised never had such impressive horns!
When folks bought land several years ago they often bought it without buying the mineral rights, not realizing that what was below the earth would be so valuable later. When wells are being drilled, which can take several months in all, the company who owns the mineral rights is responsible for maintaining whatever fencing, gates, and roads for access to the sites.
It's interesting to see who's around... if only by the tracks they leave.
When a well is being drilled, there's a lot of expensive equipment on site. From the time the well site is on paper there'll be dozers, graders and all manner of heavy equipment getting the site ready for the really big stuff. Then when the drilling starts many different companies will be involved. We got at this site after the well was drilled and the fracking was in process. There's the main company... then all the sub-contractors... sand trucks, oil trucks, chemical trucks are some, and all the personnel that oversee all the various aspects.
It isn't practical to lock the gate and give everyone a key... not only for the amount of keys that would have to be issued but also for the time it takes to get out of ones truck, unlock and open a gate, drive the truck through and get out and shut and lock the gate.
Also, the main contractor wants a record of who is coming and going. There's a lot at stake and the $150 a day they pay a gate guard is small change in the big picture.
There are scorpions here... but this guy is harmless... he's a windscorpion... about 2" long and looks deadly!
These drilling operations run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until completion. This created a whole new area of work, which can suit a retired couple with a motorhome just fine. Seems like a whole lot of folks jumped on this bandwagon because the government got involved and a person must be licensed as a security guard, in our case, with the State of
This is a Class 2 position (no guns required or allowed), but you must
pass a test and get security clearance... fingerprints and all. Of course there is a fee for all this... for a couple to become certified it will cost
just under $175. This is good for 1
year, then if you're still interested in this line of work, you must recertify.
The prickly pear cactus are in bloom... most here are yellow, but I've been seeing these beautiful orange ones as well.
The pay sounds pretty good... the going rate here is $150 a day per couple. If you break that down to an hourly wage, you're being paid $6.25 an hour. But you are a contractor so must pay your own Worker's Compensation... which is $15 a day. That brings your hourly wage to $5.625 an hour. No taxes are withheld so it's wise to pay estimated taxes quarterly throughout the year. You will be provided with an RV site.. maybe shaded, maybe not. There will be electric, water and a dump station. The electric is from a huge generator that will be running most of the time. It definitely will be running all night long as it also provides electricity to the huge floodlights that light up the whole area. The noise from "our" generator kind of drowns out all the noise from the drilling site which is several hundred yards away from out site.
You get used to it.
The dust from lots and lots of big trucks traveling on the unpaved roads is constant. Right now the daytime heat is in the 90's and upwards. Someone has to be ready to open the gate and record various information .... license plate number, valid ID, company they work for etc. This can be really busy or very slow. The pay and the requirements are the same.
So... why did Bill & I decide to try this? Well, we've seen motorhomes parked at gate entrances all over the
USA... from the site in Alaska at a school that
is on summer vacation (keeps the vandalism down) to the oil fields in SW
Texas. We kept saying "that's something
we want to do". We often volunteer
at National Wildlife Refuges ( We've done this 20 times or more),
we have been campground hosts at state parks in Alaska
we did work that month at the Indianapolis Speedway back in 2003..... and we seem to be spending more time on other
means of travel these days. So... here we are, in the dusty, hot, mesquite
flatland of SW Texas, finally crossing this
off our bucket list.
By the time we pay the taxes on what we earn, I think I'd be hard pressed to say we're in it for the "big bucks". Maybe we'll make enough to pay for a couple months in
this coming winter... who knows?
I don't know what this will look like when it grows up... right now it's about 6" across and barely out of the ground. It's quite beautiful... but like everything else here, it's gonna hurt!
Did I forget to mention that we got our gate less than 24 hours after arriving at the RV park? We've been on the job nearly 2 weeks so far... phone service is good if you have AT&T (which we do for phone)... we have Verizon for Millenicom internet... but there's no signal here. So... unless I head to town often, my blogs will be few and far between. That's a bit of a disappointment, but we'll live with whatever it is.
We had thought we'd do gate guarding for 1 month... but this company would like you to work longer than that. We'll see how a month is... then decide.
That's about all I know about our latest adventure... hope to keep y'all up to date as time goes on.
That's All For Today!