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 won Idaho Author Awards. Confluence of Spirit, his third novel of the Idaho trilogy, will be released in 2023. He and his wife Kristin live in the Gold Fork River country south of Roseberry.