Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Greetings from Weardale,

The weather has cooled off the past few days and is back to what I would consider more “normal” for the North Pennines, in other words, cloudy, breezy and occasionally rainy. This morning there is a slight chill in the air that says the brief northern summer is on it’s way out.

Tuesday at the mine Dave and Joe spent much of the day mucking and timbering the main face. Byron went in early so as to have a bit of time collecting at the newly exposed fluorite seam at the face. When I got in I found him, along with Jurgen and Robert perched on top of the muck heap digging at the left side of the face. Much of what was recovered was, as on Saturday, damaged, but Byron managed to get s few pieces that show potential for good material from the new zone. Byron, of course, could not be dislodged from his perch until Dave and the Eimco were literally removing the rock underneath him sometime around noon.

Cal, meanwhile, had not been able to resist the siren call of the remaining fluorite in the Rat Hole, and was turning up a few good pieces. Because of the dodgy roof situation, no water is currently being used in the area, so collecting consists of gathering a bunch of muddy rocks out of the pocket floor and taking them outside for a washing. After lunch I joined him there and we took turns hammering at the rock behind a particularly large and lovely plate of crystals on the cavity wall. The ironstone that makes up the cavity wall is particularly dense and hard, requiring one to lie on one’s side in the rock and mud while swinging a hammer at a chisel. Needless to say, one’s arm soon becomes quite tired of this, and Cal and I traded off on the task for a while. Toward the end of the afternoon we were joined by Jurgen and Robert, and through the combined efforts of all, the plate finally came loose. Needless to say, the two were over the moon with having collected such an impressive piece, and the day ended with much posing for photos.

Yesterday morning Cal and Eric assembled another pallet of blue bins for shipment home. We are up to three pallets of fluorite now and should make at least four by close-down next week. I spent the morning assembling a wooden crate for an antique Scottish Arts & Crafts chair that Joan found last summer. This was done out in the quarry and as luck would have it, the lid went onto the crate moments before a rain cloud passed through.

Dave drilled and shot the face once again in the afternoon. Fortunately, he was able to swap out parts between the two Holman drills and get one working unit out of it, sparing him the chore of having to muscle the heavy Sig through 26 drill holes again. A number of the drill holes behaved as if they were being driven into altered ground, which gives us hope that the new fluorite zone will continue to develop. We will know more soon.

Jurgen and Robert left early this morning for their trip home. I am almost sure that their bags were well over any reasonable weight allowance on the airline. Joan arrives on Saturday for a couple weeks away from the job at home, and next week we will be closing up for the season. All goes so quickly.

Until next time,

Jesse & Crew

The one that didn't get away.



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