Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Devil's device...

     The ditcher was simply a ‘V’ shaped scraper. The one arm was eight feet long, one foot wide, and a half inch thick flat iron that Russ and I would try to keep in the bottom of the ditch. The other side of the ‘V’ was an eight foot long, two foot wide, half inch thick curved iron with a sharp edge that cut into the bank and pushed the sod, weeds and dirt out of the ditch. The point end was connected to the tractor with a chain. Seems simple enough. The Old Man would drive the wide wheeled tractor straddling the ditch, chained to the ditcher. We would stand on the straight iron to hold it down in the bottom of the ditch and push down on the curved blade to keep it digging in and cutting sod.
We’d been bucked off that ‘devil’s device’ more often than cowboys being thrown off a Brahma bull at a rodeo! Most of the time it worked like it was supposed to, especially in the soft sandy soil, but in hard pan clay the thing digs in, breaks out, jumping around so much we can’t stay on. When one of us was bounced off the other poor rider would be thrown up in the air as the ditcher turned over. Worse was when the ditcher would hit a tree root, or worse a big rock, the point would stop and the back we were balancing on would throw us both high in the air. Vern would stop, and then we’d come down and the blade would come down. We’d have to scramble out from under so we didn’t get chopped in half by the blade!
     We were ditching under the big cottonwood tree where we built the tree house coming in fast and hit a root. The contraption threw us a few feet high before the straight iron come down on Russ’s leg a couple years ago and he was bruised, bleeding and hobbling around for a week.
The year before when we were even littler, lighter, and younger, you know ‘made of the rubber’; we hit bedrock up by the twenty-five. The ditcher threw us clear up onto the tractor. The Old Man was puttering along probably day dreaming about another way to torture us kids and suddenly he was slammed to a stop and two flaying boys come raining down on his head. Probably the only time all three of us got hurt while we were ditching. Russ and I moaning and Vern was muttering. We got down and were going in circles in the hay field – walk it off – walk it off –  walk it off…

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