making headway + new buddies


There are two reasons we’ve been planning for months now that Oct. 1 would be our moving day:

  1. We need to be settled in at ranch headquarters before weaning begins this fall.
  2. Beau’s big plan all along has been to finish the waterline project here at the VX before we go.  We figured it’d be done this summer.  Turns out Oct. 1 is going to be pushing it.

That’s right, it’s three days to go ’til October 1, and, as usual, we Blakes are going to photo-finish it.  Actually, we’re not going to finish it at all.  The truth is, the waterline project is NOT going to be wrapped up by the time we move this weekend… but I’m starting to think that a waterline project is never truly finished.


In case you’re not up to speed, here’s the short story of a ranch waterline project:  we’re burying pipe that will carry water throughout the west side of the ranch — from a well (one of only two wells on the place) to various stock tanks in various pastures.  The project should improve the distribution of stock water on the VX (enabling the cows to use available grass more efficiently), will bring safe drinking water to the house here, and hopefully will alleviate an ongoing water feud with our neighbors to the south.

And the truth is, Beau and I are not personally burying the pipe.  Not so much; there’s a real waterline professional here to handle that job.  We are very much enjoying watching Mr. Colin McWilliams, of Cohagen, trenching expert extraordinaire (that’s him talking with Beau in the photo above), at work — because we just like letting people who know what they’re doing do a job.  Colin has been here for a couple weeks now with his trencher, laying waterline and working with Beau to connect an underground maze of pre-existing waterline to the new stuff.  Three days out from our move and the two of them are about to have all the trenching finished!  After that, there will be old pipes to connect to new pipes, pre-existing pipes to disconnect permanently, water tanks to install, well houses to rebuild… and that’s all stuff that won’t be done before we Blakes move away from the VX.  Beau will have to oversee the wrapping-up of the project from our new home at ranch headquarters 40 miles south of here — much as he really, really wanted to personally finish this waterline, he’s had to admit there just isn’t enough time in this life to do it all.  Because in the meantime, his help is already needed down at headquarters, and another PV employee will be moving in as we move out and picking up the loose ends here.

That picture up above?  It’s a close-up of a wheel of waterline.  This one down below?  A view of the trenching in action.  It’s a slow process, this digging of a 6-foot-deep, 6-inches-wide, miles-long hole.  It’s slow enough, in fact, that Colin doesn’t even have to sit on the trencher as it digs.  It just sort of chews its way across the pasture.



The kids love jumping over the narrow trench.  I share this picture below because I think it’s interesting that Emi likes to sneak my calculator out of the house.  She calls it her “kid computer,” and she just plain likes to carry it with her.  Future mathematician?


Oh, and did you notice we’ve gained a kid here?  He’s not ours; that’s Colin’s boy.  He got to hang out with his dad and with our family last week.  Thank you, God, for agriculture, and for kids growing up in the dirt watching their folks work:



The two boys get along famously.  It’s fun for Asher, who lives in a house with two little girls, to have a boy around to do boy stuff with.  Asher and his new buddy have had lots of fun while their two dads have worked.  What all have they been up to?  Well, let’s see… they’ve been riding the dog (note the mischievous “good thing Mom isn’t here to see this” look on Asher’s face):


They’ve been teaming up to close gates:


And they’ve been helping Beau put out salt and mineral:


Do you remember being little and having a very real need to taste the salt?  And the mineral?  No?  Me neither.  See, I knew my husband and his kids were weird.

We Blakes have gotten acquainted with so many great people during our stay on the Ingomar-Cohagen Road.  Our pending move will take us to a whole other little Eastern Montana world.  Growing up in different “worlds,” do you think Asher and his new little buddy will remember each other?  Or do you think that we’ll see the McWilliams family a few years down the road and tell the two boys that they used to play together, during the Fall of the VX Waterline, but they won’t believe us and they’ll refuse to make eye contact with each other?

I know what I’ll do then!  I’ll show them this blog.  “See, I have pictures to prove it!”  And teenager Asher will roll his eyes and mutter, “Mom, put that old computer thing away.  Nobody even knows what blogs are anymore.”

© Tami Blake

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