Summertime is in full force here in Central Texas. The sun is shining and temperatures are above one hundred degrees every day this week. Chiggers are biting, the earth stands dry, begging for rainfall and sweat pumps out of all your pores. Work is definitely not easy this time of year.
As we arrive at our work site, the Sunset Valley Conservation Area, we are surrounded by woods made up of Live Oak, Ash Juniper, cactus and other Hill Country vegetation. Our assignment here is to harvest Juniper trees that out-compete young Live Oak and repurpose them for use as fence posts and mulch. The silence is broken as we rev up our chainsaws and fire up the wood chipper. Our team breaks up into smaller groups and we spend the day cutting, dragging, sorting and chipping trees. To prevent chigger bites, we pass around the “sulfur sock”, which is literally a sock filled with a mixture of sulfur and baby powder. We cover our clothing with the sulfur mixture, paying extra attention to our ankles, waist and other areas that chiggers like to bite.
Nearby our work area is a coyote den that we must be careful to avoid. Today, the coyotes were more active than usual and we were sent home early since one of them is becoming aggressive.
When our crew is not out of town responding to disasters, we do conservation projects such as this one in the Austin area. Not only are we dedicated to helping communities in times of need but we love the environment too!
Valerie Tamburri, ERT Crew Member