Ditch Rider

The Ground Squirrel’s Scourge

Story and Photos by F.A. Loomis

I recall my grandfather, a founder of a farm cooperative in Valley County called the Gold Fork Irrigation Company and a ditch rider in the 1920s, telling me stories about his favorite ditch rider, a young man who took over his job, arriving on the scene after dropping out of Harvard College. He was a vegetarian everyone called “Biscuit Martin.” They called him “Biscuit” because once a week he baked a biscuit as big as a hat and kept it in his saddlebag. All week long he ate from the saddlebag as he rode ditches and the canal.

Biscuit kept a garden and raised vegetables. My grandfather said he occasionally sat down in a field and ate a sandwich for lunch with the ditch rider, who ate a piece of his big biscuit along with a wedge of cabbage cut from a head grown in his Gold Fork garden. “But sometimes he just sat in the saddle and ate carrots,” my grandfather said, “or read a book while his horse ate grass along the canal.”

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F.A. Loomis

About F.A. Loomis

F.A. (Floyd) Loomis writes about Idaho and its people. He is the author of The Upper Burnt Ruby Creek Triology, Vol. 1 Frankie Ravan, and Vol. 2 Ravan's Winter. Both books have won Idaho Author Awards. He is working on Vol. 3 Confluence of Spirit. A businessman and author, he lives in Boise with his wife Kristin.