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*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘digging rocks

Harvesting Rocks

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Since it is harvest season, we decided to grab a couple of shovels and head into our woods to harvest rocks for use in the labyrinth. The back half of the circling pathway needs additional rocks to fully complete the borders. This time of year it is easier to see where old rock piles have been swallowed by the woods. From now until the ground freezes becomes prime rock harvesting time.

It might look a little like the photo above when we arrive at first but prying loose just one of the rocks can start a chain reaction of adjacent rocks coming free, one after another.

We were quickly reminded that prop shovels made for the classic “breaking ground” ceremonies where executives and politicians all toss a scoopful of sand are not hardy enough for real work.

Cyndie claimed the shovel in the photo above from her mom’s garage last year as they cleared out possessions in advance of selling the property. Her dad had been involved in more than one of these ground breaking events over the years, keeping the shovels as mementos. This one is the second to have suffered this kind of fate when used in projects around our property.

I turned the previous one into an edger tool by grinding the what was left of the spade into a cutting blade.

After uncovering a reasonable number of healthy-sized rocks for our purposes, we used a wheelbarrow to move them from the woods to the periphery of the labyrinth.

The dusty clay soil gives them all the appearance of being one color at this point but a few rain showers will bring out more individual personalities over time.

Now comes the fun part, picking just the right rocks to fill in the gaps around the back half of the labyrinth pathway. My guess is we could probably use four times as many as we “harvested” today to achieve the full effect we are after, but this amount will occupy us for now.

I want to also get after staging more downed tree trunks and limbs for chipping. There are at least four different spots in our forest where the professional trimmers cut down trees late last winter, leaving the lumber for us to process.

Collecting rocks and trimming downed trees are the two ongoing projects that will never really have a completion point on our property.

They nicely compliment the other project that is always ongoing around here: composting manure.



Written by johnwhays

October 4, 2022 at 6:00 am

Rock Relocation

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When I told Cyndie I was ready to drive the tractor into the back pasture to pick up that rock, she asked if she should move the horses out. I figured they wouldn’t be a problem and suggested she leave them be, without expecting them to be near as chill as they ended up being when the tractor rumbled past them all.

None of them even lifted their heads from chomping away on the grass at their feet. It was a rewarding demonstration of how comfortable they are getting with their environs and our activities around them.

As I was filling the hole with composted manure, the horses took turns approaching the rock and the tractor to see what was going on in their field. I love being able to be in their space and have them so calmly accept our presence.

The labyrinth was the easiest place to put the rock and the easiest spot to set it down was on the outer edge. Without any pre-planning, I grabbed two other available rocks from nearby and placed them on top, reserving the right to switch them out later if we come across ones we like better.

There is something satisfying about this whole process that makes me want to do it right away again. Luckily, there is a known candidate for relocation currently buried on our north loop trail. I know it is there but I don’t have any idea how much of it is buried out of sight.

I’m hoping to find out soon.



Written by johnwhays

September 19, 2022 at 6:00 am

Rock Work

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Yesterday was one of those days when the things we thought we might do when we talked about it at breakfast, ended up being different than what we chose to do after stepping out into the day. It was funny that both Cyndie and I lobbied for a refocus to something different.

I wanted to do some rock work and she wanted to transplant some trees.

We started out by the road where the recent tree clearing by the township maintenance crew had uncovered an old rock pile and decaying fence post that marked our property boundary. I wanted to stack a cairn of stones to more purposefully indicate the spot.

We also dug up a couple of rocks that were pushing their way above ground enough to become a nuisance when mowing. What do I do with extra rocks? Find somewhere to balance them.

I picked Cyndie’s perennial garden.

We moved from there to transplanting volunteer oak trees from places they shouldn’t be to just outside the fence line of the paddock. If they take, the ultimate goal would be for them to provide natural shade for the horses. It’ll take a year to see if they survive the shock we put them through today, but it will take a lot of years to become tall enough to offer real shade.

I’m honestly skeptical about the chances, but if we never try, we’ll never have even a possibility.

The biggest hurdle is the soil. The trees were extricated from sandy soil at the high point of our property and replanted into heavy clay soil by the drainage ditch that crosses our back field.

Time will tell.

Maybe I should think about stacking rocks to make a wall high enough to offer shade. It would probably take as much time as growing trees, but the odds of success are probably better.



Written by johnwhays

September 24, 2018 at 6:00 am