Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Brief Update from Montana

As soon as we dig out the cable for the camera, I have lots to post.

In the meantime, I sit here in the Montana Brew Pub in Billings (free internet!) while Jon is at the Dry Creek Ditch Company meeting in Bridger. What is a ditch company, you ask? Well in these parts, folks (farmers in particular) live and die by water rights. The ditch companies are a cooperative of sorts that manage the irrigation ditches that in our case, come off of the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River. Land owners pay for shares in the ditch which entitles them to pull water for irrigation. In exchange, the ditch companies maintain the ditch infrastructure and manage their administration.

Recently, one of the farmers up the way from us decided to put in a new headgate to divert more water to his place. You just can't put in a headgate when and where you want; water is a limited resource. The more water pulled from upstream, the less water there is for those folks at the end of the ditch, like us and our neighbors. Our neighbors that actively farm and ranch their property objected to this vigilantism and the ditch company called a meeting.

I have alot to learn about farming and ranching!

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