Monday, April 12, 2010

Rocking on


Today was another productive day, which is always a good thing around here.  We have two bus tours coming in early June, so the more work we can get done now, the better.  There won't be much blooming when the tours come through, and I'm well aware of our need to integrate more early spring-early summer plantings in the garden.  Since 2002, we have concentrated on the rock work in the gardens to the exclusion of almost every other perennial, well except for dwarf conifer plantings, but though they are beautiful in our eyes, they do not flower, in the traditional sense.   I always feel badly when tour groups come early in the season, for the peak time here for annual color is from July to frost; if any of the people are local, some of them have taken me up on offers to come back later on in the year (and bring some friends!)


 We had some more wildlife visiting today, a pair of large turkeys strolled through, and our little hens stared in awe at these gigantic 'chickens'.  The turkeys are frequent visitors and they always amaze me.

So, we got back to work on the east side of the quarry hill this afternoon.  This is how it looked after we sort of borrowed some dirt from the corn field.  Normally I am not in favor of removing topsoil from anywhere on the farm for gardening, since my renter needs his topsoil for agriculture and I am first and foremost, a farmer at heart, but this particular soil is very near to pure sand, though it looks dark.   From years of our previous renter turning the corner sharply while working land, he had mounded up the sand on the outside of the field, so we just stripped off the resulting mound.  The sand will work very well for the pines this garden is intended to contain. 

We hauled a yard at a time in our old dump trailer, probably around ten so far, also including soil from our compost pile.  As I've said in earlier posts, the old tractors and equipment have saved us so much wear and tear on our systems, we could not have done the work building the gardens without them.
A case in point is the 1920's circa Manley Wrecking Crane seen here.  Back in the 20's, the Manley Crane was often mounted on the back of either a truck, or a big car, like a Buick, and used as a tow truck.  Using the hand crank, the 1 1/2 ton wrecker was rated to lift 3000 pounds (though we have pushed ours well beyond that many times).  It is amazing how much this simple piece of equipment can lift and even though the crank turns pretty hard on some of the bigger rocks, it's still a marvel.  

When we first found the Manley sitting in a woods, I wasn't  impressed by it, but Carl was.  We knew the owner, who was a 'collector' of all sorts of machinery, who said he guessed he could part with the wrecker for $75.  I thought we just made the mistake of the day when we bought the thing, but I was wrong, and I'll promptly admit it. Carl had to build a trailer to mount it on and with one tire from his old 1967 Buick LeSabre and the other from an International baler, we were in business with our wrecker.  Interestingly enough, there are people out there who collect these wreckers; I had a picture of it posted on a garden website and we were contacted by a person from Colorado who was willing to drive here to pick it up if it was for sale.  (It isn't, lol.)  Last year, Carl came across another Manley, this time a 3 ton (6000 pound capacity), but it needs an entire frame built for it.  We have the winch,  gears and cable, but oh, boy, this one needs a lot more work.  Carl fully intends to restore this wrecker, and I hope he does.  This was a $25 purchase, and worth every cent.

Here is a sequence of the wrecker (and Carl and Joel) in action:


First we picked a rock out from our pile

Then proceed to the garden area

Up the hill...


Ok, close enough, time for placement

After all that work, we managed to place three rocks today.  Doesn't look like much yet, but there's more stone to come.

Here's a view of some rock already in place on the new berm west of the house.  The conifer is Pinus Strobus 'Blue Shag'
This is another view, taken from ground level (I love the mountainous look!)

This picture was taken on the north side of the quarry, where I was weeding today in between placing rocks.

Well, that's about it for today's work.  There's another day tomorrow.       Karen

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