Friday, July 18, 2008

No Ranch in Our Future

John would like to live on a ranch that someone else takes care of. He has decided he doesn't want to own one. Wasn't it just two weeks ago I was saying this what he had always wanted? We spent three days this week cutting brush on the path next to an irrigation ditch that is nearly 100 years old. That meant clipping off plants near ground level—bending, stopping, trying to find the stem of a 6 to 12 inch high plant that grows on a very flexible wire-thin stem. John cut off small pine trees and I threw them down the hillside. We cleaned pine needles, twigs and branches out of the ditch, which hasn't had water running in it for five years.

Where huge trees had fallen across the ditch and trail, we broke off enough branches to make it possible to climb over the tree and walk on down the trail. All of this is backbreaking work—not because it is heavy work, just because of the angle at which we have to work.

By Wednesday afternoon we were feeling pretty good. Our minds and bodies are getting used to doing physical work all day. We weren't nearly as tired as on Monday. We are glad we can see what we've accomplished, clearing more than a mile of the trail. But we wouldn't want to do it every day, week after week. If there is still any land available to homestead in the US, we won't apply.

We are impressed with what it took to develop this land and other lands all over this country. Our ancestors who settled virgin land—in Oregon, Colorado, Kansas or Virginia—worked incredibly hard. The rights for the water that flows through the ditch we worked on were acquired in 1909. The owner had three years to build the ditch to use the water. The entire six or seven miles of the ditch were dug by hand. And we think its hard work just to clean it.

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