Field Follies: Summer SRM

Field Follies

Summer SRM

by Andrew Brischke

This is a new blog segment by Andrew Brischke, Area Assistant Agent for the Cooperative Extension in Mohave and Coconino Counties, and friend of Diablo Trust. He writes these columns quarterly for the AZ Society for Range Management (SRM) newsletter, and gave us permission to re-print them here! Diablo Trust supports all activities in the ourdoors, on the open range, and Andrew give some . . . interesting advice, by way of his own mishaps and blunders, on what to do when in the wild.This was his first essay, from the AZSRM September 2012 newsletter. We'll post one of his past essays a month on our blog until we catch up:
You can learn more about the AZSRM at

I realize I bring much of my misfortune upon myself, I really do. And in keeping with the theme of summarizing the recent summer SRM meeting in this issue, I would like to share another occurrence of self-induced calamity that happened to me during the meeting.

I arrived in Young early enough to find that I could set up my living quarters in just about any spot I wished in the camping area. The spot I chose probably had the hardest ground of the entire lot and bent every last one of my paper clip-sized tent stakes. Instead of doing the sensible thing and finding a different area, I simply said to myself, “This will do, what’s the worst that could happen?”

After coming back from dinner on the first night to see my tent standing firm, my worries about my tent blowing around drifted away with the gusty winds that we had had during the BBQ. The next morning I thought I would put some extra weight in the tent, just to be on the safe side. Luckily, I had a cooler full of ice and sodas that would do the trick.

I decided to come back to the campsite after the day’s talks to collect my cooler full of goodies and relax for the remainder of the evening. When I pulled up to where had I left my tent that morning, I clearly witnessed the evidence of a localized tornado that whipped through the campsite. I saw other tents tipped over, but ostensibly the eye of the tornado went right through where I had placed my weighted down tent and the gale force winds sailed it a good 100 feet from where it had originally had been placed.

As I was straightening out my collapsed tent I noticed that I had broken a tent pole. No big deal, as it was just at the joint, and I quickly transformed it from a broken tent pole to a shortened tent pole. Then, as I like to make everything difficult on myself, I dragged my “weighted down” tent back to its original location. You may be asking yourself why I didn’t take anything out to make it lighter to drag, or even better, just set my tent up where it docked itself? The answer, my friends, is simple: I don’t think all the time (and some would argue I rarely think).

At the time I didn’t think of using the real tent stakes I regularly use for monitoring that were in my truck the entire time. I didn’t think that my “heavy,” cheap, Styrofoam cooler full of goodness would’ve tumbled about and emptied either. I didn’t think the now melted ice would soak everything in my tent. I didn’t think of taking everything out of my tent before we finally put the real stakes in. I didn’t even think of dumping the small puddles of water left behind in the bottom of my tent before we staked it down.

Indeed, I could’ve pulled the stakes and emptied the water out of my tent, and in hindsight would’ve been far less effort. But I do things the hard way and decided to mop up and wring out what I could with my already soaked clothes.

That evening was the first time I was pleased that it got so hot over the weekend. The inside of my tent was dry, my air mattress was dry, and my sleeping was . . . damp. I know I brought this on myself, I really do. But I’m also blaming Mother Nature – and Mother Nature, I’m putting you on notice!

(That statement ought to really boost my karma for the future.)