Ford I Gano History – Tape 3 Side B
Well I sure appreciate Steve showing me how this operates, and I hope it comes through in good manner, and I hope that even Elizabeth will appreciate me being able to talk on this, because I’m going to try to run all my information on a tape machine.
So there, Liz.
My explanation about the alfalfa field had two purposes, a double-edged purpose, I should say. One of them was about the borders that held the water, the other was of course about the ditch at the head of the field. We would put a tarpaulin, or a tarp as we called it, in the ditch. The tarpaulin was just simply a pole with a canvas tied on to it, stapled on to it that we would put across the ditch, and we’d throw a little dirt on the upper end of it, the part that was in the ditch, to keep it from washing out. And then which would back the water up and we would cut a hole, it sounds funny to say a hole, but we’d cut a hole in the ditch bank to let the water out onto the border that we wanted to irrigate. It was a lot of shoveling to do in this arrangement, because we had to shovel the dirt back into the cut that we’d made in the bank whenever we had finished that border, and wanted to turn it down to the next. Each time entailed moving the tarp and making the cut over in another part of the field.
I used to get the job of irrigating the alfalfa. And if we let the water run too long on it, it of course would run off and run down into the river bottom, and waste itself as well as washing out little gullies on the bank our field was planted on. So in order to know when – a lot of this irrigation was done at night, that’s when we got our water from upstream, when other people got through using it in the daytime back down the ditch. That’s when we usually irrigated our crops was at night. When I was assigned to the irrigation process, why, I would take me an old blanket I had laying around there and go out there in the field and lay down on it with my bare feet stuck upstream. Believe it or not I used to irrigate barefooted most of the time. And which I sure couldn’t do nowadays.
I took my feet upwards, and then when the water would come trickling down that particular border, it would wake me up tickling onto my feet. It would waken me in time to go off and shut the water off for that border, and open up another one, so we wouldn’t waste water letting it run off the bank, off the bottom.
I used to enjoy helping put up the hay, because my Dad and whoever was helping put the hay up – sometimes Frank did and sometimes Charlie Mahan, our old friend Charlie – and they would work along. So we would cut the hay with the mower, just a team horse mower, and break it up a little with an old dump rake. We’d rake it into piles with a dump rake, and they would run alongside of the pile and throw it on to the wagon. My job was to stand there on top of the wagon and spread it around so we could load it on evenly. I usually got the team to go where I want them to by just hollering at them: "Get up, Jude" or "Get up, Jack," and "Whoa!" when we wanted to stop. But of course we had to make turns at the end of the field, and that entailed getting ahold of the reins and pulling them around where we wanted them to go. Anyway, I enjoyed that part of it because I was riding, and not having to throw hay on!
When we got the load built up on the wagon to where it was hard to throw it up from the ground on top, making it stay, then we’d take that load of hay into that stack where we put it up into a haystack that we used for our winter feed for our horses and milk cow and so on. Well, so much for the irrigation field.
We did have a hard time keeping water down there at that end of the ditch. Most of the neighbors, well, we were supposed to be taking turns, but sometimes they overlapped their turns, and we wouldn’t get water just whenever we needed it, when it was assigned to us. They had a ditch boss, who would come around now and then and find out how it was getting along. If we weren’t getting our share, he’d go up to the upper part, neighbors up above and find out who was irrigating, and tell them to turn it off, so we could have some water. Well, so much for that.