Dammer, Puddler, or Dimple Maker

Remembering an old-school approach to water conservation on dryland farms.

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The finished restoration on display in “Sculpture Row.”

Recently at the Whistle Stop Flea Market in Clarendon, Texas, I found a home-made farm machinery relic dating back to my childhood in about 1939 or 1940. In that day, my father called it a “dammer” as it made little holes and dams in plowed soil. A neighbor called it a “puddler” because it made a hole for rain puddles. The wife of another neighbor called it a “dimple maker.”

A dusty machine in a workroom

This model was made from a wooden 12-foot 4×4 with ends containing very loose pipe sleeve bearings turning on large bolts welded to strap brackets that bolted to the 4×4 pieces. The discs, which were bolted to 3-inch-by-1/2-inch heavy strap iron, probably came from a disc grain drill. The strap iron was green in color and was probably was recycled from an early-day row crop lister or heavy plow and many drilled holes were already in place. At that point in time, all farm-drilled holes in iron were hand-cranked while squirting oil on the drill bit. Two of 12 discs were missing but had the mounts and every bolt was the old square head of the past.

A closeup of a wooden and metal farm implement

I purchased a new 12-foot 4×4, drilled holes and added the old end bearings, made the missing discs from scrap, mounted, painted and set all on display stands to allow turning the discs above ground as if it were in the soil.

A closeup of a farm implement

Just how effective could this implement be in a dryland farming operation? The 4-foot-by-12-foot, 48-square-foot single revolution of the dammer would create 12 Stetson-hat-size dimples (or holes) in the plowed soil. An acre containing 43,560 square feet would allow 907 48-square-foot areas within the bounds. That means that 907 areas would create approximately 10,884 Stetson-hat-size holes with each holding approximately 1 gallon of soaked-in rainwater each time it rains.

A closeup of a metal and wooden farm implement

If you have ever had to haul water to drink or to satisfy thirsty cattle, that is approximately 10 farm truckloads dumped on each acre. Imagine the water that could be saved on a section (640 acres) of plowed land.

I have not researched any modern-day-type implements but realize they are out there. But in its day, this simple, homemade dammer sure did the job. FC

Delbert Trew is a freelance writer, retired rancher and supervisor of the Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean, Texas. Contact him at Trew Ranch, Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002; (806) 779-3164; email: delrutrew@gmail.com.

  • Updated on Jul 7, 2021
  • Originally Published on Jun 25, 2021
Tagged with: dammer, dimple maker, dryland farming, farm machinery, puddler
Farm Collector Magazine
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