Sunday, September 11, 2011

Don Briant

Frann and Denese came by yesterday morning on their way to a tour of Don Briant's domes. Of course they were in the little red dodge truck and there wasn't room in it for three so I was given the choice of riding in the back or taking the jeep. I'd imagine you'll can guess what my decision was.
First structure we were taken to by Don was this unfinished structure and I think it was before the domes. After looking at all of this I think I can pretty well figure John Wells got his inspiration for his Field Lab trusses from Don.
Don has home made jigs for everything he builds. In this case it was a simple, but very effective rod bender for making some of the stuff he uses on the domes and other stuff he builds.
Another jig for making the components for domes.
Here he's in the process of building a giant ball. For any of you who have traveled down 118 from Alpine headed for Terlingua you may have noticed some of his work atop a tower just this side of Alpine. Unfortunately he is in the same boat as me with the DAMN burn ban. He can't weld and neither can I so neither of us are getting anything done. I say RAISE THE DAMN BURN BAN! Better yet vote for someone who will next election!
Another piece that was going to be part of a dome or ball laying out on his property. There are many such components that haven't been used. Perhaps they were experiments gone bad?
Another jig for one of his domes. These are very ingenious! Matter of fact all of his jigs are.
And another one.
One of the many domes he's built from a distance. He told us that him and another guy built several in Houston Texas. Sure would like to see them because they are two story and much taller. He said no welding was used on them the rebar was all wired together before the concrete was added on the exterior and interior.
Here you see Don on top of one of the domes. Frann says he is 90 years old, but he still gets around like a teenager and is as agile as a mountain goat.

After there we went to another place Frann thought she could get a metal satellite dish for the roof of her earth bag building, but the guy wasn't there. The road goes down behind Nick's place and we were going to stop by and check his progress and on the way we saw a pretty large mule deer buck. I'd guess at least a 6 or 8 pointer. Unfortunately I was having to try and take the picture of it while driving to keep up with it and through the windshield so the picture came out pretty lousy. The deer can't really be made out, but you can see the dust trail it was kicking up as it ran down the road in front of us. We did stop by Nick's place, but he wasn't home and as far as progress there doesn't appear to be any since our last visit some months back.

At another place in the road and at an ant bed in the raod we came by this horny toad. You rairly see these any more, but many years ago there were lots of them. This is the largest I've seen in many years and may not have seen over four that I remember in the last 30 years. You see back in the 60s or 70s some AH got the bright idea that they looked like miniature dinosaurs and the word got around that they would sell up north for the cool factor of having one. Hunters hunted most of them down and they were sent off to other parts of the country and the numbers dwindled. The population never has recovered. I think they are on the endangered species list now fortunately!

23 comments:

  1. Don's a hoot, ask him about the T.V.

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  2. May be the next party before I see him again. I heard him say at least three times "That was a good party." while we were out there. I think we've picked up another regular. ;)

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  3. That's sad about the horny toads. I didn't know they were endangered but come to think of it, I never do see them around. They were always my favorite little animal when I was a kid. Such is life I suppose.
    Linda

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  4. Sounds like you had a great outing.

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  5. The story I was told about the horny toads was that when the fire ants came up from Mexico they tore them up. If I think about it we used to see a lot of army ants and big red ants around, horny toads could handle these but the way fire swarm they couldn't get away. So I guess with a combination of the two that would decimate them pretty easy. I have seen just a few in the past years, but your right, not like we did when we were kids.

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  6. Towanda, Like Dale mentioned later the fire ants took or are taking their toll, but the original problem was caused by people catching them to sell them for profit. I remember when all of that was going on and didn't like it then anymore than I do now. Throw in the fire ants and they may be gone sooner or later, but fire aunts won't stray far away from water from what I hear and there are none down here or in the desert that I know of.

    DD, yep we had fun. Its nice to get out and about every now and then.

    Dale, fortunately there aren't fire ants anywhere around here that I've seen. Perhaps the desert will be their last stand?

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  7. One of the many blessings of living in the desert...NO FIRE ANTS! Don called me and I am going to go pick him up Friday morning as he want's to see my dirt bags.

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  8. It is a shame that boys today wont get to experience the thrill of being slimed by a horney toad. I remember one shooting me with a bloody mixture that grossed me out when I was 6 or 8.

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  9. Ingenius. Especially those jigs, but I'm puzzling how he pours the concrete. Mortar mix maybe? Chopping up fiber into it like stucco?

    Good blog. Thanks for sharing it. Old Jules

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  10. Frann, I'm thinking some of Don's technology would be the ticket for you and you wouldn't have to keep inching the upper bags in toward the center. I'm not sold on that idea even though it is probably safe. Of course considering he can't weld now that could be a problem, but looked like he had enough unused trusses laying around his place that they might be able to be used. Problem would be getting them to your place though.

    Matt, I never got slimed by one, but was pretty gentle with them. We used to like to lay them on their backs and rub their bellies to make them go to sleep.

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  11. Sofar, I think Don tries different stuff as far as the concrete goes. He showed us one that he used pearlite in (at least one of his buildings). I had assumed he sprayed the plaster / mortar / concrete on, but according to Frann he just mixes a bucket of mortar at a time and applies it in small areas. I guess it takes a long time to do it and would figure there would be a lot of cracks in it from putting wet crete with dry, but I didn't see any cracks in any of his buildings. I think otherwise its just mortar mix?

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  12. Your horny toad looks a bit like a lizard, too. Is it evolution of a species happening in front of your eyes?

    Never seen anything like it...

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  13. Dani, I'm sure the horny toads have been around as long as most other lizards or maybe longer than some? At least they have been around longer than me and I'm ancient. ;) They are lizards and not toads, that's just the name I always heard them called. The real name for the one in the picture is Texas Horned lizard (although they can be found in other southern states and Mexico) You can read about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_horned_lizard and more interesting reading about O'l Rip one that supposedly lived in a time capsule for 31 years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ol%27_Rip_the_Horned_Toad

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  14. We were usually gentle with the creatures we caught - except for the scorpions. We caught plenty of horney toads and whip-tailed lizards that we let go unharmed. But, we were always excited and that probably transferred to our prey. So, I have been slimed by H-toad and shat on by an armadillo.

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  15. Matt, I haven't ever been shat on by an armadillo either, but stepped in a fresh pile of cow dropping while chasing one one time. I got that crap splattered all over my boots and pant legs. Some of it even made it up the inside of my pant leg and back down in my boot. I gave up or running through cow pastures after that.

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  16. Horny Toads!, Armadillo shats's ??????

    That sounds like the names of a really bad Porn movie that no normal person would want to see. I knew an ugly woman once that was horny, does that count anything???
    (don't worry, there was not enough beer I could drink to make her pretty)

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  17. CC, I wouldn't touch that reply with a stick.

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  18. Makes me feel really bad for collecting and playing with all those little horny toads when I was kid.

    I worked at TCU and thankfully their mascot is a stuffed one, not alive!

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  19. repsychallblues, hopefully kids / people have learned to treasure them now rather than exploit them for $ or kill them. At least now the law is on their side. Most that were sold back when probably didn't have a chance.

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  20. Boots are not really boots until they get crap on them. Until then, they are merely props.

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  21. I would sure love to see the one and two story domes he made in the Houston area. I am currently there and if he remembered the address I could swing by and take some pictures.

    You can e-mail me at msbelinda at hotmail dot com

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  22. Matt, I haven't worn boots in years, but do have a set of galoshes I put one every now and then when I need to wade through the brush. Just hope they will stop a snake bite? That's yet to be seen though.

    MsB, Maybe Frann has Don's phone number and can ask him. I don't. I'm sure he is off grid so no chance of emailing him.

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  23. Anybody still posting to this site??

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