Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Greetings from Weardale.

Though cloudy and breezy yesterday, we had no rain. It even warmed up to a balmy 13C/55F. The sun even came through on rare occasions. This morning looks much the same. If the breeze keeps up, hopefully, the quarry will day out a bit.

With the “improved” weather yesterday, we had the chance to do some needed work outside the mine. First off, while I was running about the dale ordering and acquiring some needed supplies, Byron and Greg managed to finish constructing the new extension at the bottom of our stairs. It is actually quite nice and makes life much easier when carrying tubs full of rock down from the mine. Prior to this, making the last turn and stepping down to the little three-step ladder at the bottom of the stairs was a good trick with hands full, and even more of a trick when everything is wet. We even have a hand rail now, though it does one little good (except maybe psychological) when hands are full.

They had finished with this by the time I arrived, so Byron and I pushed the hydraulic power unit out onto the mine landing, installed the newly charged battery, and with a bit of suspense hanging over us, turned the ignition key. After sitting unused in a damp mine for nine months a diesel engine can sometimes be difficult to bring back to life, and on several occasions it has been a real chore to get the thing going again. This time, however, it fired right up for us, and we were able to get the past week’s backlog of large bits trimmed up in short order. By late afternoon our collection of fluorite-covered limestone blocks ranging up to maybe 50 kg had been shorn of much of their excess mass, yielding at least 18 good retail-quality specimens and numerous others, which due to damage, will likely end up in wholesale flats. Today’s photo is of the best of the lot. Not too bad for our first week. I just hope this continues.

Back up dale at the cottage, we found Joy and a friend attempting to put up a small prefabricated shed on an open spot behind the Blue Bell. Evidently, the assembly instructions provided with thing were for a different model, and the task was not proceeding according to plan. Byron and Greg promptly offered their assistance, and by the time I had finished my first pint, all the walls were up and the roof was in place. As I headed back to the cottage to get dinner on, I could see that the finishing touches with installing the door were at hand.

Today, with the sawing done for the moment, Byron will be back to collecting. Shanade should be there today to do some more specimen washing, so I guess I’ll be on for wrapping specimens and packing the first of our blue shipping bins.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron



A selection of large specimens now rendered a more manageable size.

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