Posts Tagged ‘Prairie Songs’


This fall, Railguy tapped into an existing water line that runs near the barn and installed a water hydrant in my stable. This device allows you to have running water even in freezing weather as the shutoff valve is installed below the frostline. After you use the tap, water in the line runs back down below the ground and thus doesn’t freeze. Very handy. I never have to carry water more than a few stalls distance from the tap.

At our former home, the horse barn was modest. It began life as a garage where a set of teenaged brothers worked on their cars, back in the days before boys spent most of their free time exercising their thumbs on electronic devices. Previous occupants had converted the garage to a small barn. It had an electrical supply, but no running water. In the summer, this was no problem. I simply used hoses to fill water buckets in the barn and watering tubs in the paddocks. In winter though, it meant carrying buckets of water from the house. As horses are sizeable animals, that could add up to quite a bit of water, even in winter, when they drink less than in the heat of summer. At times I had four horses stabled in the little barn. I carried water to my little herd, year in, year out, for more than 30 years.

Some years ago, I came across a passage in a book I was reading, Prairie Songs by Pam Conrad. The narrator’s mother has planted a couple of cottonwood trees outside their prairie house. She tells Mrs. Berryman, a visiting friend:

“J.T. promised me they wouldn’t take up here. ‘You’ll have to water them like I water the cattle, Clara’, he told me” She smiled and rubbed a leaf between her fingers. “But it’s worth it. One day they’ll shade the house and make for a nice place to sit on a summer night. They took. They look fine.”

Mrs. Berryman was quiet, like she didn’t appreciate how special those two sticks were and how Momma coddled them sometimes as if they were babies.

“There’s a linden at home,” she said. “It’s tremendous, tall and wide, and the branches just swoop down and touch the ground all around. It’s wonderful.” Mrs. Berryman cupped a plain cottonwood leaf in her palm. “I can’t say I ever remember anyone watering it, though.”

“That’s too bad,” Momma said. “I think everyone should have something in their life that they need to carry water to. Heavy water.” She smiled. “And far.”

Mrs. Berryman turned to scan the horizon. “Maybe so,” she said quietly.

I’m very pleased with my water hydrant. But I’m glad that I have something in my life that I would carry water for. Heavy water. From far.

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