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Windmills on the prairie
Windmill repair was once a common skill--if you couldn't "pull a well" and "fix the mill" you might wait a long time to find a neighbor who could help you out. Tools and equipment were designed to make the job easier and safer, and every farmer had a set of those tools.
I did not grow up using windmills in our Kansas pastureland. We watered our cows from ponds and creeks and sometimes a spring or two. We built tanks to collect spring water, maintained ponds with fish and plant life to keep water fresh, and had a creek or two that filled natural tanks for cattle to drink. The first summer after we were married, my husband and I needed to repair one of the few windmills in his family's pasture. He amazed me with his skill and knowledge of how a windmill worked and the ability to figure out the tools! They were all foreign to me and I had no idea of the danger of pulling a well without these tools. He told me he learned it from his dad and from neighbors who were willing to help and teach.
A part of me is saddened by that, but another part of me realizes that things change--technology advancements and changing needs have created a new era. Gone is the day when ranchers could spend a full day on a windmill repair. There is so much other work to be done and so little time to do it in. We'll keep our working windmills around as long as we can.
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