Monday, August 30, 2010

More hazards, dangers, cautions to bore you with...

Thanks for waiting so patiently for a new post folks. Have had some family health issues pop up over the past couple weeks....seems like that is how it happens...suddenly. Those events sort of threw a wrench into blogging, picking, eBaying, etc.

But, things have levelled out, and I am getting back on track. Had planned to blog tonight anyway, but the fact it is raining now drove me inside earlier than expected. August is pretty much done, September is here, and fall is rushing in.

I happen to really like picking in the fall, myself.

Yes, the weather tends to be cooler than summer, but not too cold to work, most of the time anyway.

But, it holds another "plus" when it comes to picking. This "plus" only really applies to places that actually have a true "fall"...that is, the leaves on the trees fall off, foliage drops, etc....

Get what I am driving at?

You can go through the countryside (or even in the cities, towns, etc, for that matter) in the summer, and miss so many good "picks" simply because you can't see them.

I know of many potential picking spots that are visible in the fall...but, come summer, they disappear from view entirely. Many of them you could drive by, or even walk by, within a mere couple yards, and not see them. I am not talking tiny sheds here, either...I'm talking about 2 story houses, entire huge barns, gas stations, etc!
Another thing to watch for in the summer is look in your mirror as you pass stands of trees, or go slower around curves, while on back roads....That curve could well be there because of an old farm property is hidden in the bush. This is a view of one that was all but hidden from view before I rounded the curve and stopped when I saw the place in my passenger side mirror.

Had I been going my usual 90KM PH (Kilometers per hour, with 90K being equivalent to about 56MPH, for those US readers out there), the "rooster tail" (gravel dust cloud left behind from my van) would have obscured this place from view in my mirror.
Now I will need to find out who owns it. Yes, that is right, I do NOT take stuff out of these sorts of places without permission. I'd rather buy the stuff, AND have someone know I am there. Yes, they look abandoned, and many may well be, but the fact of the matter is that they are still private property, and there IS an owner somewhere who may care about the property and its contents. If you like getting shot at, the cops pulling you over, and/or being labeled a thief, creating your very own criminal record, I guess that is your prerogative...keep ripping stuff off.
As a picker who is "above board" and pretty darn "straight", it understandably pisses me off when I am working on finding an owner of a property I am interested in picking, trying to get in legitimately and someone meanwhile steals the stuff from inside. I don't have any respect for those sorts of people. I have run across individuals who think nothing of backing up to old building, raiding a place, making a huge mess, and loading up their trucks, with nary a concern to having any sort of permission to do so.
They are not people I (nor others) consider pickers. They are thieves, pure and simple. One fellow I know of will even steal wrought iron gates right off of the front entrances of inhabited houses in broad the city! I refuse to buy anything from him....odds are the item is hotter than hell. When these people call themselves "pickers", it makes my blood boil. "Crook" is the proper term for them.
Theft is theft. It doesn't matter if the item seems to be "neglected" and "abandoned". It still has an owner. So, if you did not buy it from the owner, or the owner did not give you permission to take it, it is not yours, period. Yes, in the big picture some minor things may not matter......but, perhaps I can clue you in to something else you need to know....

These "abandoned" properties sometimes are not really abandoned.
I have seen places in the middle of nowhere that I have driven by in the summer, that appeared to be empty and abandoned, but when driving by in the winter, with nary a tire mark or path to the place, there will be a column of smoke rising from the chimney.

And, odds are there is a rifle or shotgun close at hand in the house.

So, had you gone up to the place, and shoved open the door of such a dwelling, you might have gotten quite a surprise...if you lived long enough to actually be surprised.
If you knocked on the door, that may have been a different matter. Maybe you could have bought some cool stuff, instead of laying on that silk pillow in that narrow, shiny box, 6 feet under.

Ok, yes, I am being extreme, but, the possibility is there for grave danger on properties that are overgrown, structures that are deteriorating, etc. That bowed roof of that barn you are climbing in might just require one more little gust of wind to cause the entire barn to collapse on top of you. You really need to be vigilant, even when you HAVE permission to climb around such places. When a structure has been neglected for years, its structural integrity may well be compromised.

Be aware of what rotting lumber looks and smells like. Take note of large cracks and gaps in timbers, notice that pillar laying on the floor, or that the bottom of it is rotted off and realize that it is essentially hanging in mid air, so the floor that it is supporting is not actually being supported. Don't walk on top of that pile of rotting hay, as the floorboards underneath are as sturdy as a wet sponge.
I could go on and on about structures and the hazards, but I am sure you will tire of my lecturing...So, I will lecture you about the OUTSIDE hazards before you even GET to the structure!

Old wells are the scariest and usually the most well hidden hazard on old farm sites and such. There was at least one on every farm site. Sometimes there were a couple. Just because you are walking amongst grass does not mean that there aren't boards beneath your feet....rotten boards, covering up the 4' wide opening of a 20 foot deep well.

Gravity is not your friend when you are standing in such a spot.

If you live in an area with vegetation, drop a chunk of board on the ground, and let it sit there for 2 summers in the grass...of course, don't mow over top of it, just let the grass grow. After 2 summers, possibly even one summer, depending on moisture, the board will be invisible to the eye. It will be covered by grass, dirt, etc, and you will only be able to feel it under the grass.
Now, consider boards that have been essentially lying on the ground for 60 years.

Get the picture?

Old root cellars are another potential issue. Yeah, the house may be gone, the barn is still there, but the root cellar that had been at the side of the house, or some ways from the house was never filled in. Same goes for old cisterns (water reservoirs), buried steel storage tanks (they do rust out), basements, old tunnels, and a multitude of other underground cavities. If you live in an area where mining was common, you will need to watch for old mining tunnels, ventilation shafts, etc.

So, if no one knows you are on an old property, and you fall down a well..., well....(yes, pun intended)....good luck, buddy!

Sometimes there are more interesting old underground places, of course. But, when you find these sorts of places, be careful as well.

A neighbor of my parents told us about a time when he was plowing one of his fields. He had cleared some bush some years previous, and had planted and harvested a crop in that spot each year. Then, this one time when he was plowing, he heard a loud WHOOOOOMP-SHHH sound, and looked back to see a large cloud of dust rising behind his plow, from a spot he had gone over seconds before.

When the dust settled, there was a large crater visible, large and deep enough to have swallowed his tractor & plow. And, in the hole, he saw what had been an old whisky still, jugs, crates, etc.

Unfortunately, (from my picker's/local history buff's point of view), he just filled the hole up, contents and all.

You know, I did not intend on writing about dangers, hazards and such today...what I had planned was to talk about a recent pick of mine, show you some of the cool stuff I found, etc......hmmm...well, I guess you will have more reading, as I will be doing two blogs today!

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