Landmark or Life

The windmill has been around for as long as I can remember. It serves as a landmark in the pastures and a reference point for those traveling through. It’s often a meeting place for social gatherings and most importantly life’s blood to those in harsh and desolate places.  All it takes is a breeze that starts the cycle of life.

The windmill is a true test of time and an ingenious idea.

To easily sum up how an old windmill works: an water stream is located underground by use of a witcher. Once the windmill is erected, a breeze turns the mill or fan that moves a long rod in an up and down motion. The repeated strokes create a suction that pulls water up from the stream, through the pipe and into a nearby tank. It is a little more complicated than that, but the point being that mama cow and her calf will have something to wet their whistle.

Daniel Halladay is credited with having designed the first commercially successful windmill in the New World in 1854 . His windmill had a self-governing design which meant it automatically turned to face the changing winds and it also controlled its own speed of operation.

I remember when I was little, Dad told us stories about two windmills across the river in Texas known as the Twin Mills. That old country along the Red was plum full of gypsum rock and all the nearby wells produced “gypy” tasting water. Yet, for some reason, the Twin Mills were the only wells that produced cool, clean water with no “gyp” taste. Dad remembered all the wagons that would drive from miles away to fill up their water barrels. A trip to the Twin Mills in those days was sure a special treat.

The original two mills got covered up during the Dust Bowl by the many days of blowing dirt. Later, a new mill was constructed and moved slightly, but still pulls from the same stream. I do know you can still ride by and take a cool refreshing drink from an old tin cup that hangs there.

The windmill has always been a haven for weary travelers. It not only waters livestock but all thirsty nomads that drift along from the bobwhite quail to the roadrunner the whitetail deer to every other four-legged or winged creature that need life’s blood to survive.

More than just life, the windmill is also used as a landmark- something you could pick out on your journey. I have often overheard conversations between cowboys who were sitting mounted in the dawns early light, “Go to that ol’ mill along the River and then start your part of the drive,” or  “We will meet you at the windmill at first light.”

Unfortunately with time, many of the old mills along the River have fallen down and rotted to just remnants of their former state. What once were saviors to so many weary travelers, now are just a memory to a few. But what an important part they played. So if you’re every traveling down the road and happen to see an old mill, whether it’s a fallen comrade or a working soldier, think about all the gifts it has given. In fact, let’s just sum it up this way:

“Waiting on the breath of life to give life to so many.”

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