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Question: "Did you ever think, 'I don't want to do this?'"
   Diena: "Oh, you will never find people that prayed harder for rain than me and my brother. Oh, how we wished it would rain! If it would only rain! And we didn't know that we could leave a motor unattended at the irrigation spot…
   "We even meddled sometimes. One time we were so tired of irrigating, and we saw there was a little leak developing on a tube someplace. So, we took a screwdriver and kind of helped it along. Then shut down the motor and went home [laughs]…
   "The other problem we had was the dams in the ditch. We started out damming the water up with gunnysacks or any sack we could get ahold of. We'd scoop them up with dirt and lay them into the ditch. Then, that would raise the level of the water in the ditch. But, if they were in there ten days or so and you wanted to move them – see, you had to move them so you could get settings farther away. You'd pick them up, the bottom would stay there and the top of the sack would come up and there you'd have that dirt in the ditch…
   "So then we went to a metal – Dad made a metal dam. And I don't know if they were produced commercially or not, but he made metal dams that had a pull up chute that you could adjust the water. But the water always wanted to wash around them. There was always that circulating, this side, both sides. You know, it was washing the dirt away, and then the dam would wash out. Then we got to a canvas dam. We had them sew a pocket and run a metal tube through the top of the pocket. And you could bend that rod to lower and raise the water. Or, you could put a big clod under one end of it on the dam and raise it that way. But, you had to dry them out or else they would rot too. And then the plastic dam came, and that did not rot. I don't know if anybody still gravity irrigates like that with ditches or not, but that was a real thing when the plastic dam came."

Diena Schmidt – The Hard Work of Irrigation

   

Other Excerpts from Diena Schmidt's Interview:

Conscientiouis Objectors
Sugar Rationing
The Refrigerator Replaces the Cave
Gravity Flow Irrigation Systems
Diena's Dad John Thieszen
Fighting Army Bugs without Insecticide