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Randy Stensaas

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Max and Me Building Ditch
By Randy Stensaas
Monday, June 14, 2010

Rated "G" by the Author.

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spring has sprung and it is time to put water in the fields, this means getting the ditches ready to hold water. Of course this involves dynamite, fire and rattle snakes.


                                                    Building Ditch
                One thing about growing up in the boondocks of Wyoming, you had to have water to grow stuff. Not that we lacked water, but it did not fall out of the sky very often.  Because of this unique phenomenon we had to have wells ran by windmills, also another phenomenon of Wyoming, the wind blows and blows and blows providing a good supply for the running of a windmill, thereby ensuring that there was water. Irrigation ditches were what we used to draw water from the creek to water the crops to grow the hay that we had to cut three times a summer and put in stacks just so we would un-stack it all winter and feed to the cows and horses and deer.  Said water from creeks came from the mountains to the east. The creek ran almost year round but in the spring and early summer it ran really good because of melting snow.
                The ditches had been built about a hundred years ago or so, our job was to get them ready every spring to hold water. So we would help our pops work on the dams so that the water would flow down the ditch, if we were lucky and if Max, Bubba and myself had nothing to do with them. This year we were helping my pop on the damn. I am not sure what they were doing but it involved dynamite and the creek.
                Now that I look back on it, I think we were there for comic relief. Anyway they put some holes in the rock base put dynamite in the holes and lit the fuse. Everybody hide under the truck beds about 100 feet from the creek, except us. We were standing bout hundred yards away when the stuff went off.
                Wow, we watched rocks and stuff fly way up in the air, cool man, but then it started coming back down, some of it was coming down where we were standing.  Thump, and then thump on the left side of us, thump behind us, thumps all around us this was sounding good. We’re outta here and took off. Max’s cousin Bubba was with us and when I looked up he was already a half mile ahead of us and gaining. I on the other hand was the runt of the bunch and I was lagging behind, that is till a rock hit the ground next to me, THUMP.  
Feet don’t fail me now, and we were gone and I mean gone. I passed Max like he was standing still. I was passing Bubba when all of a sudden I was running but not going anyplace, Bubba had grabbed me by the shirt. If Bubba hadn’t grabbed me by the shirt when I went by I would have still been running, as it was I was standing there running in place with him holding on to me till I ran out of steam. Besides when I went past Max he really was standing still, it had quit raining rocks by then and he was just standing there.  
Now that that work was done for the day we had to get the real work done, had to clean the ditches of all the junk in them. This was not as hard as it sounds, most of it was grass and weeds which meant it we would just burn it. 
So being the scientist that we were this was a piece of cake. Good old Max got a box of kitchen matches and we went to work. Bubba and I got a pitch fork and a shovel so we could keep control of things. 
It had been a few months since we had had any water of any kind so as you can imagine things were a little on the dry side, yep, a whole lot on the dry side, something that we did not take into consideration, can you imagine that?
 Max lit a match and started the grass and weeds a burning in the bottom of the ditch, however it only stayed in the bottom of the ditch about a negative ten seconds. Before we knew it the fire was over the side of the bank and heading down the ditch and about five feet on each side of the ditch. Bubba and I were shoveling and forking things like crazy; I forked a big or tumble weed back into the ditch. Seemed like a good idea, for somebody with no brains. I picked that weed up and it went, whoosh, before I knew it and I went whoosh with it. 
When I looked up Max and Bubba were looking at me with their mouths open and then they started laughing. That weed had ate my lunch after char firing me, it burned my eye brows off and my hair was about half of what it was before and my face was black as midnight, all in all I was a sight to behold. I blinked a couple of times, kind of like saying ‘what happened?’
After they got over their laughing fit we continued on our merry way. We got just about done with the ditch cleaning when Max had an incident. He was over standing in some tall grass making sure that the fire didn’t get away when I happened to look at him the same time he looked down
I was looking at him and there was something striking him on the side of the leg on his boot top. He happened to look down at the same time and let out a blood curdling scream and jumped up in the air about five feet and just hung there. It really was amazing, but it dawned on me what was hitting his leg, it was a snake, one of those sneaky snakes that Tom T. Hall was singing about. However this one had rattles on its tail, made really nice music, the kind that would make the hair all over your body stand straight up.
When Bubba and I realized that it was a rattle snake we were gone. After about a hundred yards we got out feet under control and got stopped. We looked back at Max and he was just hanging there in the air, or so it seemed, but then we realized he had grabbed a hold of a tree branch he was standing under. We watched that sneaky snake crawl off, but Max never came down. We had to reluctantly go back over to where Max was hanging. Bubba held me up so I could pry Max’s fingers loose from the branch. He dropped to the ground but his feet were running in place while he was hanging there so when he hit the ground he was gone. 
We finally caught up with him and he was telling us that he wasn’t scared, he was just trying out a new tree climbing technique and when that was done he was doing some running practice for school sports later on. We asked him about his hands which were in the shape of claws and stayed like that for a couple of hours. He said it was a new exercise he was practicing.
All in all it was a pretty uneventful day looked like a good time to go check out Bubba’s garden and the new fence they put up.

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Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 6/15/2010
Excellent story yet again, Randy; well done!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D

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