Life of a traveling soil scientist

August 8, 2008 § Leave a comment

I am back from my third week of field work.  It’s actually starting to go well and I am learning a lot of new things.  Steve, my boss, who is a self-admitted impatient person, has been pretty good at not making me feel like a complete idiot, although I still sometimes do.  I am not very good at digging, because, well, I’m a girl.  But I am always right or very close with picking out soil horizons.  Soil description is always hard but I think I am getting better at figuring out texture, structure and color are not too hard (except that girls see color different than guys so my co-workers never agree with me- Steve always seems to agree with Dan, who is color blind), and I’m slowly learning how to figure out percent rock fragments.  I cannot see clay films or bridging worth a darn though.  Everyone says it looks like wax; I have no idea what they are talking about.  Plant description is tough.  All of the grasses look exactly the same to me.  And trying to calculate canopy cover is hard because I am not good with spatially-based math. I like using the clinometer to measure tree heights and slope percents.  Tree ages are tedious but not too bad, except I am not strong enough to core the trees by myself.  Counting tree size classes and coarse woody material is somewhat of a pain but pretty much a no-brainer.  I guess that’s about all I do besides filling out some paperwork using taxonomy and the TEUI and TES handbooks.  Lots of fun stuff.  I can’t really complain because I work in a really awesome spot and being outside is so much better than sitting in the office trying not to fall asleep.  But it is hard to be away so much.  When I’m out in the field, I miss my couch and my bed and my computer.  And I miss sleeping in and being clean for a whole day at a time.  Weekends are great but I always feel so far behind with household chores that I usually never get done on the weekends anyway.  I’ve been pretty busy in past weekends but I don’t really have any plans for this one.  Maybe I’ll actually get some stuff done.  Like laundry.

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