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Suck It Up Buttercup

This may be my favorite time of year here in the South Texas pucker brush. Comfortable day time temps and cool nights are a welcome change. Not enough deciduous trees down here to mark the passing of the seasons. Maybe it is my favorite time of year because we survived the furnace blast hell of a South Texas summer and we know it. Mornings like this it would be sublime to wake up next to a warm butt and then have a sumptuous breakfast of sausage and eggs and all the fixin’s. Well that ain’t happening. No boobs NOR biscuits in my near future so I best suck it up and get on with another day.

Makin’ do with what ya got

People discuss what is the worst part about an oil field gate guard job. Some folks say it is the heat or being outside all day or the dust or the 10 miles of caliche road hell to the hardtop road.  I can take all that stuff in stride. In my book, the worst part is THE GRIND.  Day in and day out of the same same and it just wears you down after awhile.

Miss Kathy and I are at that point now- more or less.  6 months without a single day off and the scenery never changes.  We both have our escape strategies that alleviate the sameness and boredom.  Miss Kathy escapes by plotting out fantastical future plans and by cooking culinary masterpieces that in no way could have come off a dusty propane cooktop or out of the maw of a toaster oven.  I pass the time by drinking Dr. Pepper and then seeing if I can burp loud enough to wake up Tuco the Dog.  ASPCA be damned you know;  let the rascals find me if they got a problem with that.  🙂

Leaning up against that 850 dozer.  I am a rakish looking bastard.  Near Coleman, TX  —   July, 2008

……..and this blog, that helps get through one more day.   How about something of a little different flavor for today’s entry?

You know, back in the day,  I worked for My Bro as an equipment operator and I spent more than a few days in the cab of his John Deere 850 dozer.  Back at the start of the summer, he mentioned he was going to try and sell that big ol’ beast and replace it with something newer and smaller and more efficient.   I thought nothing more about it and the days passed.  During one of our subsequent phone calls, My Bro mentioned he thought he had that 850 sold  — to a guy in New Zealand.

Well, by golly, that is just what happened.  The Kiwi trekked all the way to Texas in the heat of a Texas Summer to look that 850 over and they cut a deal right then and there.  After some prepping and stuff, the 850 was put on a ship in Houston and ended up Down Under.

And in my best Charles Kuralt voice —   “Here is the rest of the story.”

From the Otago Daily Times:

Geoff Scurr was just 16 when he bought his first bulldozer.

Two years later, the hard-working East Otago teenager bought a contracting business.

He was determined to prove to a few critics, who thought he would never make it work because he was so young, that they were wrong.

Geoff Scurr Contracting Ltd recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a function at the East Otago Events Centre, attended by several hundred people.

The business now employed six staff, along with casual workers when needed. Forestry work was a major component, along with irrigation dams, installing fibre-optic phone cables, subdivisions, farm work and quarrying.

Work has been spread as far afield as Amberley and Mataura and inland to Omakau.

The business operated from three quarries – the Kilmog quarry, Te Tui gravel pit near Hawksbury Village and Mt Pleasant quarry.

A Texas 850 Down Under

The couple recently imported a bulldozer from Texas, a John Deere 850 C, which Mr Scurr located within an hour of searching the internet.

There had been much hard work over the years and many holidays missed out on, but he enjoyed what he did, Mr Scurr said.

A strong work ethic was instilled in him from a young age. His first job was working after school for Keith Muldrew at the Waikouaiti Butchery from when he was 10 through to 15.

He was paid 40c/kg to strip meat off ribcages and $2 an hour to scrub tubs and make dog rolls in the school holidays. He later turned down an offer of a butchery apprenticeship.

His wife, Tracey, said she had “no doubt” the job was where he first made the connection between working hard towards a goal and having money to pursue his dreams.

After leaving school, Mr Scurr worked for the Silverpeaks County Council, mowing lawns and building bridges.

When he was 17, he took leave from the council and headed to Australia, to work for farming couple Allen and Carolynne Nobbs.

On the expiry of his three months’ leave, he resigned from the council and stayed on in Australia for a further seven months.

He returned to New Zealand in 1986 to start work three days later with local contractor Allan Fox.

As contracting work was limited at that time, he also did casual farm and driving work.

In mid-1987, Mr Scurr was preparing to head back to Australia to work in the mines, when he received a call from Mr Fox, offering the opportunity to buy him out of the earthmoving and agricultural business.

It bought him a bulldozer, a Land Rover, a couple of sets of discs and a diesel tank.

He was a “one-man band” until 1990, when he bought his first wheeled tractor and employed his first staff member.

Not long after buying the business, he bought his yard in Park St, Waikouaiti, later building a workshop on the site.

Mrs Scurr remembered the 1990s as a decade of “droughts and hard slog”. Her husband was always worrying about the weather and he was never home, working all the hours he could.

They sold the agricultural contracting business to Clive Wilson in late 2002, having realised it was not going to fit in with family life.

Son Jack was born in 2002 and, when daughter Olive arrived in 2005, Mr Scurr inadvertently got involved in a very hands-on delivery.

He pretended to call the midwife in the middle of the night, because he thought his wife was overreacting and the birth was still some time away, and he did not want to inconvenience anyone. But that backfired when he ended up delivering Olive himself.

Mr Scurr said his most important job was to keep his staff busy. They were fortunate they had a “great crew” of staff, including some long-serving employees.

Matt Hutcheson – Mrs Scurr’s brother – has worked for the business for 17 years.

Mrs Scurr was an integral part of the business, having started doing administration work in a corner of her future husband’s bedroom. She took over doing the books from his mother.

She saw an opportunity to get some business skills and gained a master of business administration degree from Massey University.

As her husband was working so much in those early years, 10.30pm was probably the earliest he was home and it was not uncommon for him to work 18 hours a day. She would have “gone nuts” if she had not thrown herself into her career, she said.

The Scurr family now lives on a farmlet in Waikouaiti and also owns a farm at Mt Watkin which runs beef cattle.


Well alright, there ya go.  Just another story for the books.



End Note: Ain’t No Good Life by Lynyrd Skynrd from their self-titled debut.  Yep, back in the day.

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8 comments to Suck It Up Buttercup

  • Joel

    LOL! Great story!

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    • Andrew

      Thanks Joel.

      A welcome diversion from the Evilness of the Beltway Minions and the End of the World.

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  • You may think your “burps” don’t wake Tuco. But, they do wake me!!!

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  • TexasCruiser

    I so enjoy your stories Andy. Miss Kathy, better to be woken with a Dr. Pepper burp than other forms of passed gas 🙂

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  • Miss V

    At least you are not in a deadly cubicle in some office building somewhere having to ahere to insane company rules and
    only wearing jeans and tennis shoes on Fridays. You have some sort of your day to day life left, be it so boring, instead of having to check your personality at the door. You don’t have to guard everything you say from your co-worker or worry about if the time you spent in the bathroom while taking a poop was being timed by someone. You are so lucky that you can go outside and smoke a cigarettte without it being recorded on camera and that some IT guy is not hacking into your email or your phone. Thats what the world of all the office drones is like, believe or not. I had been there thirty years, ain’t going back. Be thankful you can open up the front door of that RV and step outside for a fresh breath of air and a face full of sunshine.

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  • Cait

    Now THAT is a story. I love how they make it a point to say the dozer was “imported from Texas”, as if it has a little bit of extra street-cred. So cool.

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  • don

    Love the way you two amuse yourselves! Especially with Miss Kathy’s comment! LOL The story of the dozer was pretty good too. Those things must cost an arm and a leg in NZ for that contractor to import one on his own. It’s a good story of a hell of a hard working family.

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  • Bryan Irwin

    Great post. You hit it on the head with the grind, trying to find new and interesting ways to amuse one’s self without waking the fairer sex sleeping in the next room can get challenging. Really enjoyed reading about the dozer, great story.

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