think the year was about 1946. We had harvested our wheat and were getting ready
to plow wheat stubble south of Perryton.
Rains set in, and the ground remained too wet to plow for about 20-plus days.
As the rains fell, we remembered the long years of the Dust Bowl when rain was
scarce as hen’s teeth and the dust storms blew in every few days.
a bunkhouse full of big, stout men of all ages who could eat their weight in fried
chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy each day, Dad offset the expense by having
us dig two cesspools to service the two houses where we had recently installed
First, we dug trenches for a 7-foot-wide square, with
post hole diggers, as deep as we could dig.
Then we cut old net wire sections
slipping them into the trenches for reinforcement.
With a pile of sand,
sacks of Portland cement and a cement mixer borrowed from neighbor Willis Hardy,
we filled the trenches with concrete to about a foot below the surface.
next morning we began to dig out the center of the concrete square and proceed
on our way to China, or whatever came up first.
Of course the ground was
hard black soil, which soon turned to white caliche with soft rock formations
requiring picks, crow bars and a lot of sweat to dig.
sense broke out through the sweat, and each evening before quitting time we dug
post holes in each corner and the center then dumped a tank of water into the
pit just at quitting time. The next morning, for a short time anyway, the digging
After an eternity, or about 10 days, one pit struck a streak
of sand at 28 feet deep. The work there ended. The other pit reached 33 feet deep,
and early one morning I filled the bucket with dirt to hoist to the top and stepped
back out of the way. My leg went knee deep into a prairie dog hole.
remembered, when he first settled on the place many years ago, it was surrounded
by a prairie dog town.
brought to mind something I had read in the past — all prairie dog towns had at
least one hole that went down to water. This certainly makes sense as the prairie
did not always receive rain, or heavy dew and all animals have to have water.
The theory certainly had merit in areas where water was only 20 to 50
feet deep. However, at the site of our deep hole, the water was more like 250
feet deep as evidenced by our windmill pumping about 100 feet to the south. Somehow,
going down a hole 250 feet deep to get a drink of water each day was a bit too
intense for our thinking.
Now I ask you, readers. Did that prairie dog
hole I stepped into some 33 feet below the surface go on down to water?
© Delbert Trew
13, 2011 column
"It's All Trew"
Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164,
by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For books see delberttrew.com. His column appears weekly.
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