Tom Clyde: Closing-a-palooza | ParkRecord.com
It feels like spring has arrived at the beginning of this year. For some reason I’m always behind on all kinds of work to set up the ranch for the season. Conditions are already dry in August, with clouds of dust behind every vehicle on one of the farm roads. It should be muddy. People up and down the valley irrigate as if there is no tomorrow. There might not be water tomorrow, but I find it hard to get excited to turn on the big sprinkler system when I know it will freeze again before we do. do not really be in summer. Snow on Remembrance Day is kind of a tradition here.
I turned on the easy stuff and am in the field moving water several times a day to see if I can soak up some fields that were more or less dead last summer and didn’t came to life again this year. . I hold the main ditch for many reasons, not the least of which is that the guy cleaning the rocks has a broken excavator in the ditch a mile from the canyon. Like everything else since the world collapsed, no one has the part in stock. It’s out of stock, has fallen from a cargo ship, or there aren’t enough truck drivers. Local construction projects have been halted because there is no plywood. A large waterworks project is moving very slowly because they cannot get valves. Welcome to the third world.
One of the big spring projects is fixing fences. They weren’t bad this year. We barely had a winter so there wasn’t a lot of snow weighing them down or drifts to push them on. There are always a few trees blowing up and taking a section of barbed wire fence with them. While it wasn’t as important a job as it often is, it wasn’t nothing either.
Over the years I have tried all kinds of ways to hire a fencing team. This has to be done before the cows come back from their winter homes in the wilderness, so high school kids are not available. Some years I have been able to hire a team of resort workers or ski patrollers who have a break from their schedule before starting their summer concerts. It worked really well, although they seem to be moving to summer jobs faster now.
Other years there have been college kids in the family who can gather a few friends and form a team for a week. It didn’t work this year either. So I managed to shame the rest of the family, who own the place, for helping. Instead of a week with a small crew, we ended up with almost 20 people for a Saturday. It was a classic Fence-A-Palooza. A few of them are veterans of previous fencing efforts. Others did not know which end of the pillars to hold. There was one who thought there would be sword fighting involved. It’s not that kind of fencing. Each team has developed its own system. It reminded me of our former farmer, Myrle. If I ever suggested doing something different, he would look at me, spit tobacco juice on a fence post and say, “We never did it that way.” End of the conversation.
Either way, they split into smaller teams, each with a more or less trained leader, and got down to it. We did it, or at least what we need to do now. There are always more. You always run out of season before you run out of fence. They quickly understood it. It was a challenge to convince a few nephews that it was more important to shelter everything from the cows than to get the 100% perfect half of it, even though it seemed to have been done by a bunch of winos. Tight is perfection no matter what it looks like. The cows don’t care and will find the weak point.
More signs of spring are out there. The hummingbirds are back. They were very interested in the bright red fence post driver and swooped down as we tried to hammer new posts into rocks.
Motorcycle racing is also back. Throughout the summer, future organ donors on these high-speed bikes howl towards Wolf Creek Pass at completely unreasonable speeds. They go through blind bends, and share the joy of their engine noise with the whole valley. I can hear them inside my house for several miles. Sooner or later one of them finds the front bumper of a Winnebago coming the other way. It seems that they are appearing earlier and earlier each year. Saturday, a perfect sunny day, was the first wreck of the year. Three or four ambulances, half a dozen police cars and fire engines, and a helicopter responded. This will be the model for the rest of the summer, Saturday’s crash on Wolf Creek.
When I went out to move the irrigation water this morning, a sandhill crane greeted me. He was curious and followed me along the bank of the ditch. There are worse ways to start the day.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.