April 8, 2010
A broken irrigation mainline sent me to town yesterday. My plan was to pick up a small backhoe, bring it to the farm, and dig up the lines. Good plan, I thought, but when I reached town the backhoe the rental agency thought would work for me was more weight than worked for my trailer. Of course, with the weather as it is these days, everyone in the county is working ground and there was not another hoe for renting. That left one option. Dig up the line myself.
Two feet in the ground isn’t a long way to dig. At least not in ground dug in the last month. It is a long way though when that ground is saturated with water.
Mud has never been my thing. Really, working in mud, lines up much closer to one of the things I hate than love. Digging in mud means you have to bang the shovel against the ground on most every shovel full. That’s a lot of banging. Another problem with mud, especially mud so inundated with water it seeps out of the mud, is about the time you have portion of ditch dug, more mud slithers into the ditch. This results in a lot more digging and banging. If that isn’t enough, when the ground is as soaked as this was, a fair size hole below the pipe needs digging to store all the water that continues to seep into the ditch (this is also critical because when the pipe is finally cut for repair, all the water remaining in the pipe flows into the ditch as well!).
As I said, mud isn’t my thing. I always start as if I can get this job done without ending up full of mud myself. Well, that just isn’t going to happen. Nope, instead, when I lean over to clean the mud out from underneath the pipe, a nice slimy, muddy, chunk of what once might have been called earth—that I didn’t throw quite far enough away from the edge of the ditch—falls back in, on my neck, and oozes down my back. Then when standing in water that is more mud than water, sooner or later, when cutting pipe or reaching out of the ditch for a can of glue, you slip and plant your shoulder and cheek into the muddy sidewall of the ditch. And if that isn’t enough, without fail; you slip and find yourself sitting in the bottom of the ditch, in a pool of watery mud—which is pouring into the back of your britches—looking up past the dark walls of the ditch into the blue sky, and you don’t know whether to laugh or just be good and angry.
At the end of the day, the repair is finished, and that does feel good. Before backfilling, though, I figured I would leave the ditch open for the night, let the pipe set well, and then start the pump the next day and test the pipe under pressure for any other leaks. I’m figuring, the fewer times I dig in the mud the better it is for my mental health. And come to think of it, when I think about that pile of muddy britches, shirt, and socks in the wash room ready for the washer, I bet the fewer times I live in the mud, the better off it is for my marriage.