Ditch Digging is an Artform

Very few electricians I have known would dig a ditch.  However, working alone, I had no choice but to do my own ditch digging.  My wife refused!

Here again you never know what kind of soil or what kinds of objects you might run into.  Sometimes I would arrange to hire someone to come dig the ditch.  Not always could you arrange for someone to come immediately.

On one job it was going to cost $100.00 to hire a man to set up his machine and he was busy at the time.  I told him to forget it.  I grabbed my shovel and started to dig.  It turned out that this time and place it was perfect digging!

No rocks, no roots, the soil was just moist enough, the dirt did not stick to the shovel, and yet it was easy to drive the point of the shovel into the earth.  A fifty foot ditch took me one hour without stopping to rest.  Very rarely have I been able to earn $100.00 in an hour.

Not all ditch digging is like that.  Near Creston, Washington, one ditch about 2 feet long was through broken lava.  I piled the broken lava in one pile, and the sand and soil in another pile.  Since I was using conduit, I threw the broken lava in first.  What a mistake!  I could not get all of it back in the ditch.  It left a ridge in the lawn.

The hardest ditch to dig was right alongside a mobile home and about 1 foot long.  There was no room for the shovel handle.  Eventually I learned to carry a short garden spade in my truck.

I remember another time the home owner offered to dig the ditch.  Usually when someone digs their own ditch, it is about 18 inches deep (too shallow) and crooked, as they wind their way over and around exposed rocks.  I would have to complete the ditch when I got to the job.

I agreed to let the home owner try.  When I got there he had dug a ditch 2 feet deep, 3 feet wide, perfectly squared and clean.  It was ready for me to use 3” conduit in the ditch.


In fact, Artful!