Every two weeks Tom and I receive a new work schedule. We got work schedules at Death Valley and Grand Portage. But we didn’t get work schedules at Kings Mountain, Chickamauga, San Juan or Fort Frederica. The places where we don’t get work schedules we do pretty much the same thing every day. Or we choose our own work. Or every week has the same schedule. But here at Pipe Spring we get what the rangers call “fruit loops schedules.”
They call them fruit loops schedules because they are so colorful. Each activity has a color, and you spend time with each color most days you work. Tom and I are on the schedule just like all the rangers and we rotate through the colors.
Most days we have six or seven rangers working. Fort tours are listed on the schedule in dark blue. Four of the rangers will have two or three fort tours. The other rangers assist with the fort tours when we have buses or tour groups. During May and June we had a tour group every day, but July has slowed down to about three groups a week.
Working at the Visitor Center desk is on the schedule as green. The rangers scheduled for fort tours also work at the desk for two to three hours. When we work at the desk we greet visitors, collect fees, sell passes, and issue backcountry permits. Depending on your shift, you will also open or close the cash register.
Tom and I spend a lot of time doing living history demonstrations which are purple on the fruit loops schedule. I spin and weave. Tom works the telegraph, does blacksmithing, or gives a geology talk (he built a model of the Colorado Plateau). You saw the other things the rangers do in last week’s post on Pipe Spring.
Light blue on the fruit loops schedule is cleaning. Every day rangers work through the checklists at the fort or in the museum, cleaning whatever is next. When we have seven rangers, that adds up to at least four hours of cleaning every day. I think we probably have the cleanest museum and historical buildings of any in the National Park Service! Tom spent an hour yesterday just cleaning windows at the Visitor Center.
Yellow on the schedule is groundskeeping and animal care. I spend the least amount of time on these. On the days I work we usually have a ranch hand, Cassandra, working and she is so good that she is done with stuff before I even think about doing it. She feeds all the animals and makes sure their corrals or coops are clean. Because of the sand and the number of ant colonies here, groundskeeping is usually sweeping the sidewalks. But it might be pruning trees in the orchard, clearing out brush, or working in the garden.
The final color on the schedule is red. Red stands for collateral duties, project time, or working on the computer. I will talk more about my collateral duties next week.
Because of our fruit loops schedules, everyone knows what to do and where to be during the day. We each get some variety, but we also do the same things often enough that we can get good at them. And everyone does the same tasks, so you never feel that someone is being specially favored. I like the colorful schedules at Pipe Spring!