Monday, August 12

It was windy, windy last night. Had some more rain after midnight Sunday night. Winds were 40-50mph with gust reported up 85mph in the nearby town of Baker, MT. I decided to sleep and trust all would be okay!

Glad I got the remaining exposed fossils covered well with a tarp yesterday. Plus I have the shade canopy providing some deflection of rain. Needless to say, the wind did a number on the canopy, I discovered this morning.

This is what I saw as I got to the dig site this morning. The canopy legs suffered a fatal flaw and collapsed overnight. Really high winds and the cover was holding water so it was bound to happen. The broken & bent frame is going into the recycle bin and the cover may be re-used as a tarp for a while; until it’s in tatters.

Very nice weather today for us while we added more wood stabilizer pieces and more plaster/burlap to the the huge group of three bones in one jacket. Then later in the afternoon we rolled this behemoth over onto a pile of fluffy dirt placed just so to “catch” the big bundle.

The three spots of earth you see on the “bottom” of this jacket show where it was held up in the air on 3 pedestals of soil. Sometimes we plaster over these and sometimes not necessary.

Howard and Dan, who work at the ranch, came to my rescue with a 4-wheel vehicle and towing a small dump trailer. They used all their tools and collective good sense to use their winch and tow cable to pull that big cast up and out of the dig hole it previously sat in. The winch was attached to the front of the quad vehicle. In getting to the right place to be able to use it to pull this approximately 500lb field jacket up and out of the site the quad got stuck so the winch came to the rescue by being hooked to the trunk of a nearby cedar tree and proceeded to slowly pull the quad up and out. Then once we got under way with the big ol’ field jacket in the small pull behind trailer, the jacket decided to slip out and over onto the ground. So we used the winch tool to haul the the fossil and trailer up a steep incline while Dan & I steadied it so it wouldn’t jump out again! Success.

Then on the fairly long and slow crawl all the way back to camp with the bones in tow, it slipped out again on a hill! We’ll see what condition it’s in when we get it back to the workshop in Indiana – will be a test of how well we applied the field jacket and wood splints!

We worked on the remaining bones still exposed getting them ready to be jacketed and removed. The set of 11 or 12 ribs laying in an articulated pattern are all that’s left exposed. Kind of weird to see this dig site so “empty.” We cleaned up and pedestaled the first 5 ribs to prepare to jacket them but needed to call it a day because I was invited to have dinner with friends at their home.

It was so nice to have a home-cooked meal and just relax and share good conversation. I am ready to head home. Just need to remove the ribs tomorrow or cover them to protect the fossils until next year. I leave Wednesday morning so it’s do or die time; time to finish up any last details and I sure the site is cleaned up well and ready for winter. Don’t know if there are more bones going “back” toward the hill side but I’m guessing there are!