[Loch-Ruadh] The Gate Trip

Terry Sikes tdsikes at prodigy.net
Fri May 30 06:52:23 PDT 2008

Pádraig Ruad Ó Maolagáin <padraig_ruad at irishbard.org> wrote:  Greetings unto the illustrious Populace of Loch Ruadh!

I should have posted this earlier, but I plead a disabling case of

You can see two sample pictures that Gruffydd took of the gate and sign
here: http://www.geocities.com/padraig_ruad/pictures
Look for new149.jpg and new150.jpg. Gruffydd and Terrence both took more
pictures, and I'm sure they will post them as soon as possible.

As you know, a work crew went to Kings Arrow Ranch over the Memorial Day
weekend to complete the gate on our Gulf War land. This hardy band
consisted of Kaz, Antonia, Ari, Rinna, Mario, Alric, Gruffydd, Terrence,
and this humble bard. We left late Friday afternoon, arriving on site in
the wee hours of the morning. Alric has been sojourning in Mississippi
due to his mundane job, and had arrived some hours earlier, setting up
camp and awaiting our arrival with beer chilling in the cooler.

While our bedtime was quite late, we were nonetheless up not long after
sunrise to begin the workday. Antonia cooked us a wonderful breakfast of
pancakes and sausage to fortify us for the long day ahead, and as soon as
we were finished eating, we fell to the task before us.

I won't detail the trips to Lumberton for cement mix, to Hattiesburg for
wood, tools, and for replacements for tools that stopped working properly,
but I do want to state that without Kaz's and Alric's willingness to use
their own money to make the purchases, we would not have been able to get
as much as a third of the work done that we did.

Everyone worked hard in the Mississippi heat and humidity, including Ari
and Rinna, who fetched and carried and were up and down the ladders,
handing up the cement-soaked burlap to the adults applying it to the
uprights and the crosspiece. At one point or another, all of us wished we
were Mario's age, as he went up and down the dirt road next to the
campsite with his toy dumptruck or attacking the nearby vegetation with a
wooden sword - he, at least, had a lot of fun.

The heat, humidity, our general exhaustion and the fact that we were all
more or less covered in cement (plus the fact that the hot water wasn't on
in the showerhouse) prompted us to get rooms at the Kings Arrow Ranch
motel (formerly the Georgetown), not only for the showers, but to be able
to sleep in air conditioning. After cleaning up and a trip to Hattiesburg
for a late dinner, we were all too tired to even attempt a bardic
gathering. The next morning found us back out at the land, and again hard
at work. We had hoped to leave in the early afternoon, but problems,
necessary modifications in what we were doing, and the aforementioned
trips to Hattiesburg for tools/supplies pushed our completion time, and
therefore our departure time, further and further back, though we did
finally manage to leave before dark. Which was a good thing, as we had
promised Chantel to get Terrence back in time for them to celebrate their
first wedding anniversary - and though it was indeed the wee hours of the
morning once again when we arrived in Terrell, at least he was home.

As to the work that we did:
The sides and top of the crosspiece are now covered by the burlap and
cement mortar mix that the uprights and the cornerposts are covered with. 
For the underside, Kaz had built a separate framework that we covered with
the burlap/mortar mix that was to be lifted up and attached to the
underside of the crosspiece (between the uprights) with screws. While the
concept was good, the reality didn't work as well as hoped, so we came up
with the alternate plan of getting 1/4 inch plywood, coating one side with
water sealant, stapling burlap to the other side, attaching it to the
underside of the uprights with screws, and then using a paint roller to
coat the surface with mortar. We managed to get the plywood cut, sealed,
covered and put in place, but ran out of both time and energy, so the
bottom, while covered, is not yet coated in mortar.

Things that still need to be done:
1) Coat the underside with mortar. After the initial coats have been
applied, we can subsequently work on building up heavier layers in some
areas to give it a more uneven and weathered appearance.
2) Frame the top, either with 1/4 inch sealed plywood, or as Terrence has
suggested, the slab styrofoam that is used in house building. The
styrofoam has the advantage of being lighter and waterproof already. 
Either way, the resulting surface will then be covered with mortar. The
existing pitch of the structure will ensure rain runoff.
3) Recoat the entire structure in more mortar, using more burlap where
needed to seal any gaps, holes, or too obvious sharp right angles. As
with the corner posts, this will give the structure a more stone-like
appearance, plus the more coats of mortar we apply, the stronger the
overall structure will be.
4) Add sconces, torches, ensigns or whatever is desired. Complete the
5) Alric and I have plans to make Celtic knotwork designs to add to
either end of the sign - they will be raised out from the surface rather
than carved into it like the lettering.

While the gate is not "done", all the major work is complete and the
entire structure is now covered, and looks much better than it did with
the exposed framework. A second work trip later in the year should allow
us to do much of the work I've listed above, and also to concentrate on
mowing/clearing that we didn't have time to do this trip.

In Service,
Nunc est bibendum.
Politicians prefer unarmed peasants.

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