Sunday, February 24, 2013

Snapshots from Sweet Hills Farm - Canal Work

Cleaning out the canals of debris, trash, tumbleweeds

     You can tell that spring is going to be here pretty soon.  Even though there was snow on the ground this morning, we've seen a couple of farmers in their tractors out in their fields this past week.  They "chomp at the bit" this time of year, anxious to get their spring field work started.

     Another sign the farm season will be starting soon is that our local irrigation company has men and machinery out, repairing and cleaning our the big canal near our farm.  While on our morning walk, I took some snaps of the men working.
Repairing the canal road (sometimes called a ditch road)

     The men who care for our canals work for irrigation companies that the farmers and landowners pay assessments to each year.  Many men are maintenance employees, and some are "ditchriders."  Ditchriders have a section of canals that they care for.  During the irrigating season, they make sure that the water is running clearly with no damming from debris, keep their canals free of weeds, make sure there are no leaks.  Also, they stay in contact with the farmers on their route, who ask to have water turned into their fields, and then, shut off.

Brand new concrete on an outside turn of the canal!

     In the wintertime, when the weather is snowy and blowing, these men do inside repairs of their trucks and equipment.  But as soon as spring shows it's face, they're outside getting the canals ready for water.
    Many big canals are lined with concrete, but the ones near our house are not.  They are lined with natural rock.  On the big outside curves, where a canal might make a big turn, they might line that canal wall with concrete or chunks of broken concrete or big rocks to protect that outside wall.  They dump big rocks at the bottom of spillways, to keep them from washing out.

Rocks and chunks of concrete line the outside of
this outside turn of the canal
     Our canals are really important to us all.  Millions of acres of farmland re irrigated from them all across the United States.  They must be carefully maintained each winter in order to handle all the water that goes through them all season long (April through October).  This is necessary, because once the water is let into the canal in the sprin, making repairs is difficult.  Only a major disaster would shut down the system or shut down the flow of water to the farmers' fields.  Can you imagine the burden this would place on our farmers who depend on that water to irrigate their crops?  And, ultimately, to you and me, because the food we buy and eat might not grow to its highest abundance, nutrition and quality.
Rocks dumped below a spillway to protect
the bottom of the canal from washing out

     So, when we see a canal, let us be thankful for the water and life it is delivering to our farmers' fields, so that they may grow the food we eat.  Without irrigations systems and their canals, without water, the land in many regions of the world would not grow food.

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