Monday, April 30, 2007


The sun has melted the snow off the LaPlatas and the Ute. Water has been trickling down into streams and creeks, making its way to the Dolores and Mancos Rivers and then into Summit Lake and McPhee, Naragwimimp and Totem. All bringing a change to the men of the valley. They go nuts. Men have shot other men over water, never heard of a women shooting anyone over water? I see them, the men, on the roads, with their tool- a shovel- in a pick up truck or an ATV- and most often with a dog. (there is a whole 'nother blog on what a determined dog can balance on- )checking the hay fields and head gates.
What is it with men and water? It's more then just each needs their allotted amount to water their fields of hay? Water has defined the West- without it there is no settling anything. From the beginning of the whites migration from east to west- Water was paramount- Ranchers would only have to lay claim to the sections that had water- of the miles and miles of land he would need to grave his herds of cattle and he then had all the land he wanted-no one else could sustain with out the water- often he would put his cowboys near the water holes to guard them from anyone else using them- the adage-"plenty to go around" did not nor does today exist when it comes to water. Water rights keep attorney's busy even today. In drought years it all has to do when your claim was filed and often the dates of the claims go back to the 1800's- if you have a new claim- filed in the 1900's- forget it-
There isn't enough to go around- and each claim holder wants his allotted share- whether he needs it or not- it seems- days are spent watching the pressure of the the streams of water spraying from the side rolls and moving them along the fields, hooked on to the back of an ATV. Valves are also checked on the head gates- either to open your values more then your neighbors or to make sure your neighbor didn't open his more than he should of-
And in good years- the valley is green and the ranchers might get three cuttings of their hay- and the reservoirs are splotches of blue on the horizon. On bad years the irrigation gets cut off in July and the fields turn brown and hay price will be bad for the winter.
Back to my question- what is it about men and water- today I think it is more-I think it is a powerful thing to think of ever year the snow comes to the mountains, the snow melts the water comes to the streams and rivers and will flow over this whole land until it reaches the sea and the whole process starts again- I think men are in tuned to that- and are drawn to put their hand in it and to control it- to "reclaim" the wild- it is what God proclaimed in Genesis and what must of been a great motivation to the man in the East who heard the call to go West.
I see it in them- when they are out in the fields, shovel in hand and they have diverted the might force of water to go where they chose and it flows out glisening in the sun- and then they stand there and watch for a moment what they have control of.


  1. Julia, what an interesting piece. You really captured the intense mood and added to the lure of the west.
    I can just picture this after reading your post. It must be as much a 'power' thing as a need for irrigation.
    We don't have such a thing here in the northeast, but we do have the 'dogs of march.'

  2. Okay- I have no idea what the "dogs of march" are- so there is another blog- will let you know!