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Scribe succeeds in trench-digging task

At first glance it seemed like a daunting task. I needed to diga trench 85-feet in length and six inches deep. It was supposed tobe a water line from our well to the newly constructed dog pen.

It was early April and a cool, northerly breeze swayed the pinetree limbs in our backyard. I leaned my favorite pick against atree trunk and considered the alternatives. Perhaps I could teachour two dogs, a boxer named Dixie, and a mixed up stray, a.k.a.Otis Rambo, to dig a trench. Rambo, abandoned as a puppy, resembleda cross between a long-legged Australian shepherd and a blue-tickhound.

Rambo has the ability to dig holes comparable in size to thoseleft by mortar shells on a battlefield. Could he learn thedifference between horizontal and vertical angles?

“Sit, Rambo. I’ll show you the digging line I want you tofollow.”

Rambo’s brown eyes sparkled with amused intelligence. He smirkedslightly when I suggested the excavation directions.

Resembling a gangly teenager, Rambo prefers digging in my wifeLaurie’s flowerbeds. She resents his intrusion on herwell-manicured landscape. Her pristine plants are broken and flowerpetals are scattered. Irate, she threatens death to the 4-leggedexcavator.

“Tom, your darned dog has ruined my (enter flower’s name). I’mgonna kill him. He’s got to go.”

To his credit, Rambo recognizes the wrath of a woman andsilently slinks off to the closest azalea bush where he can concealhimself. With a furrowed brow, he watches with pensiveanticipation. Earlier, in his enthusiastic, juvenile escapade, hehad ripped a new bag of fireant poison to shreds, scatteringgranules from one corner of the porch to the other. Flip-flops anda pair of shoes left on the back steps were nowhere to be seen.

Back to business, I decided I would dig the trench myself. Everytime I walked to the pen to feed the dogs on that new concreteslab, I would grab the pick and did a few inches of trench. Itseemed like a long-term solution.

Weeks passed and the trench extended about nine feet. Gosh, only76 feet left to dig.

In the meantime, it quit raining and the ground became hard asconcrete. Tree roots also blocked my advancement. That roadblockrequired the use of a large ax and lots of muscle.

Progress came to a standstill as my second week of vacationloomed on the horizon. Besides, I had a pain in the neck fromswinging that pick.

My solution was to rent a trencher from Brookhaven Rent-All. Atelephone inquiry provided some answers and encouragement. Yes, itwas easy to operate. No, an engineering degree was notrequired.

As luck would have it, my vacation fell the week after MemorialDay. Mississippi was in the midst of a drought and record-hightemperatures. The ground was parched and harder than rock.

The trencher resembled a 1-man, self-propelled chariot, completewith hydraulics, joysticks and turf wheels. It worked extremelywell but a novice like me needed to take it slow and easy.Otherwise, that trencher could gobble up a flowerbed in a hurryand, worst of all, woeful wrath would be unleashed by my spouse.Posthumously, Rambo and I would both be pushing up daisies inadjoining plots.

As the trencher plowed the ground to the proper depth, dust flewin all directions. Dirt from the trench resembled powder. In otherwords, a spade was required to scoop out the dirt. It was only 101degrees in the shade as sweat dripped off my cheeks. I tied abandana under my perforated cap to catch the droplets running offmy bald head.

With dogged determination, the task was completed. The easiestapproach was to arise early in the morning and stop all work by 11a.m. A shower, then lunch and an extended collapse on the flooruntil 6 p.m. Then it was more outdoor labor until dark, the coolesttime of the day.

Tackling another overdue project, a 9’x6′ concrete slab wasmixed and poured manually in front of our storage building. ThankGod for my son-in-law, the Rev. Garland Boyd, who received hisdoctorate degree from New Orleans Baptist Seminary lastDecember.

Garland is an experienced engineer, carpenter, concrete mason,painter and electrician in his spare time. His joy is serving theLord as pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church, a full-time task thathe truly excels in, with the loving support of our daughter/hiswife Gale, and their two daughters, Jessica and Kallie Rose.

Mixing up 25, 80-pound bags of Quickcrete in a wheelbarrow inone sweat-soaked afternoon was a major task but the goal wasaccomplished. We took turns mixing and pouring. Garland’s help andexpertise were much appreciated.

It felt good coming back to work in an air-conditioned office.It gave me a chance to recover from my working vacation.

Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by email attgoetz@dailyleader.com