First Days

I met two fellow students I’d be working with over the summer, and had a fairly standard safety meeting. Then we got to work shoveling sediment. We (the research assistants) do a lot of sediment-moving.

However, after lunch we did not continue shoveling. Instead, we got a brief (thankfully) safety training on how to use an electric drill, were handed 350 buckets, and were told that each and every one needed 74 holes drilled in it by the end of the next day.  These buckets were to be used as tree-planters, and were specially designed. First, the bottom 3 inches of each bucket had been cut off with a table saw. Then, we were to cut slits up either side of the bucket so that the main top part could be fit into the bottom which had been cut off. Then we drilled holes through the part where they overlapped and zip-tied the bottoms to the tops. Finally, we drilled 8 columns of 8 holes each, for drainage.

Lotsa Buckets

These planters are to be placed in a large square basin (outside the OSL) which can be filled with water. In each planter will grow either Cottonwoods or Tamarix, in one of three different formations. The planters are there in order to keep the roots of each planted system distinct from the others, as these various plantings will be transplanted to the OSL after they have grown for a few months in order to study emergent vegetation in a stream setting–or at least this is what I have gathered. The Tamarix is actually a pretty interesting plant: it brings up salt, excretes it, and leaves (heh) it on the soil surface, which tends to kill other plants. It’s an invasive tree.

Eventually we finished the buckets. The cordless drills sucked, so we used ancient corded ones. Well, the batteries probably just weren’t used to being asked to drill ~26,000 holes in the span of 2 days.


Later in the week, the researchers arrived. They had shipped cross-country around 2,000 of both Tamarix and Cottonwood seedlings, carefully packaged in their lab. The Tamarix were shipped by UPS, and arrived on time. USPS was a day late with the Cottonwoods.

We put flags in those buckets that had a certain type of planting arrangement, in order to make counting easier.

That was the first week.

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One Response to First Days

  1. Hannah M says:

    350 buckets, wow.

    Keep the puns coming.

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