Thursday, November 11, 2010

How This All Started, Part 10

I thought I should show at least one photo of flowers taken during the time period we built the Quarry.  This is the River Bed in August of 2003, looking out toward the quarry construction and the barn.  My wash lines have since been moved behind the garage so they don't clutter up the lawn.

I took this picture from the house, out of the window with THE best view of the gardens out back...the bathroom!  Yes, that's right, the best place to see the garden is from our potty.  How sad is that?  Once again, our lack of planning in action.  Our Grand Plan for the distant future is to remodel our tiny house a bit so we can enjoy the garden from the kitchen and dining room.  Someday.

 So, here we are, back in November of 2003, behind the waterfall rocks, looking back toward the house.  Joel and I were busily hauling the sand back from the pile up by the woods so we can build a hill.  Carl was constantly shoveling between loads, tossing the sand where he wanted it.  While I was at the construction site unloading, Joel would move the sand pile up by the woods around a bit so he was ready for my return.   The turn-around time from the trailer being loaded to my coming back for the next load was around ten minutes, unless Carl and I had problems dumping the trailer. When we had enough sand piled up by the quarry, Joel would follow me home with the Super H and push the sand around at the construction site for us and then we'd get back to placing rocks for awhile.  The routine was load sand, haul sand, dump sand, get another load of sand and place rocks.  Shovel, repeat.

I should mention the trailer here, too...these pictures were taken during the Thing Garden construction this year:
Carl's dad built this old dumping trailer and used it to haul dirt for his first home construction project in the early 1950's, before Carl was born.  It is the box, axle and tires off of an old pick up truck from the 1940's...I'm not sure what make of truck it was, but to say they built them better back in the day is an understatement.   The trailer tongue weighs a lot, wimpy me always has to prop it up on a block of wood or a rock after I unhook it from the tractor or I can't lift it to put it on the tractor's hitch.  We all marvel that the thing has lasted as long as it has, we have put it through so much abuse.

The waterfall and start of the hill from the other side.
In the above picture, you can see the individual loads of sand as I'd dumped them prior to Joel coming with the Super H to pile them up a bit.  As soon we built the sand high enough, we could start placing rocks again.
This process went on for weeks.  We were always anxiously watching the weather for signs of the Big Freeze because once the  rocks were frozen down, we'd have to quit.  Finally, in the first week of December, the weather changed and we were done for the year.

Or so we thought.

I hope you don't mind this detour from the garden construction, but here we go:

It was now near Christmas and I had a surprise up my sleeve for Carl.  Well, not up my sleeve, it was WAY too big a surprise to store it there.  I have never had good luck surprising Carl with Christmas presents.  He doesn't get excited by much unless it's tools or something 'cool' (no shirts or socks, please). 

When Carl and I had gone to Arnie's scrapyard in the spring of 2003 and found the Manley Wrecking Crane instead, another thing we'd seen in the man's vast collection of All Things Useful was a windmill.

An Aermotor Windmill.  (I wish I could cue heavenly music to play...)

Here we go down memory lane again...our farm used to have a windmill, but it was way before I was born.  There are two windmills about three miles from here that stand on either side of a road much like ours.  Whenever Carl and I would drive by those old windmills, it was so nostalgic, we used to think how nice it would be to own one.  (The people who do own those two mills aren't selling, by the way.) 

For nearly a century, a windmill was a common sight on farms, they were the workhorses that supplied water to cattle.  Aermotors were considered to be the Cadillac of Windmills, at least around here.  With the advent of electricity, windmills fell out of favor and were replaced with electric pumps.    Many windmills literally fell over the years from lack of maintenance and windstorms, but I think the biggest problem was the demise of the family farm.

When I was a kid, we were surrounded by family farms, there were dozens of them.  You knew everyone and they knew you.  Now that's all changed.  The trend is now to the Mega Farm with thousands and thousands of operation near here has over 5000 cows on one farm;  I find it hard to wrap my mind around that many cattle all in one place.   When times got tough in the 1980's, many farmers simply quit and sold their land off either to the huge farm operations or for housing developments or to another concern who is offering top dollar.  It was just too hard to keep trying to make a living. I understand that, but I sure miss the family farm.  I'm the only one left on this stretch of road who still has all the original farm land intact.   In the past, people have asked Mom and I to sell them parcels to build a house and though we could use the money, we've refused.  We rent it out to one lone neighbor who is still farming.  The old farmstead means too much,  it is too dear. I want to hang on as long as I can.

They don't make land anymore.

I guess that's why the nostalgia bug bit me so hard when we had seen the Aermotor sitting on the ground in front of a pile of other scrap metal at Arnie's house.  I thought about it constantly, but didn't know if Arnie would want to part with it.  I enlisted the help of my father-in-law to help me with this mission as he knew Arnie.  One fine day in December while Carl was at  work and the boys were in school, my father-in-law and I headed over to see him.   Arnie said he had purchased and taken the windmill down from an abandoned farm over a decade before, and he had intended to put it back up to run an aerating pump for his pond, but he never got around to it.  His health wasn't what it had been and putting up a windmill is not easy work, so he decided to sell it to us for $250.  I was so excited, maybe, for once, I could surprise Carl.

My father-in-law and I loaded up the windmill head on the back of his truck and brought it home.   But it was three weeks til Christmas and where could I hide something that big from Carl?  I decided to put it in Mom's old machine shed where we store our greenhouse and shelving in the off-season.    The boys knew all about it too, but managed to keep it a secret. 

I purchased the biggest red bow I could find, tied it to the center hub and waited for the 25th.  On Christmas morning, when everyone was done opening their presents, I told Carl that Mom needed some help with some plumbing at her house.  "Can it wait until tomorrow?" he asked.

"No," I said, "She says the faucet is leaking badly, so we'd better go before dinner and get it fixed.  Come on, the boys and I will help you, it won't take long.  By the time we're done, it will be time to eat."

Carl groaned, he didn't feel like fixing a leaky faucet on Christmas Day, but being the dear heart he is, he obliged.  When we got up to Mom's, I had to think of some reason to get him to go to the machine shed.

"As long as we're here, could you move the shelving unit in the shed closer to the door?  As soon as Christmas is over, I really should get at starting the geranium seeds for spring."

"You want me to get the shelves out now?"

"Oh, could you?  And Joel and Dave are here, too, it won't take that long."  Once again, he obliged, but grumbled a bit.

At this point, I think he may have been suspicious, though he hid it well. However, I will never forget the look on his face when he shoved the old shed door open and came face to face with an 8' tall Aermotor Windmill head sporting a big red bow.  After 24 years of marriage, I had finally surprised him!

With more work.

Up next: how to put up a windmill.


FlowerLady said...

Another great edition to your saga. I love that about the windmill, and I bet the look on Carl's face was priceless. I look forward to hearing about putting this windmill together.

Hugs ~ FlowerLady

Alison said...

Oh, I laughed out loud at your "more work" comment. Seriously, how did he react?

I love how you are so forward-thinking in your gardening/landscaping. Using all those big rocks before they became the "in" thing. And the windmill. Now you see those cheap, cheesy, fake ones at garden shows or in catalogs. But you grew up with the real thing and pursued putting a real one in your garden.

Good for you and your mom for holding out on selling off your farm bit by bit (or even all at once).

I hope some day you get to add on to your house so that you have a great view from the living areas.

Shirley said...

That's great that you could finally surprise Carl!!! What a delight!!

xoxoxo said...

I think I got a little teary eyed there at the end, until you said more WORK! And I laughed out loud!
By the way--I have my coffee from 7-730 am ;)

Karen said...

Thank you, FlowerLady! Yes, Carl was surprised for once, and in a good way, too!

Hi Alison, he just stood there and stared at it for awhile and then turned to me and said, "Where did you get this?" He was amazed Arnie would sell it. He knew something was going on but he didn't expect this! Yes, we keep hanging on to the land here because we love it so and someday we hope to be able to remodel the house just a bit. Thank you!

Hello Shirley, yes, for once I did surprise him, haven't been as lucky since, though...

XOXOXO--I'll have to get up earlier or go to bed later to get my post done for your coffee hour, lol! And to think he was happy with a gift that kept on giving him more work. But he's Carl and loves a challenge.

Dragonfly Treasure said...

Loved the trip down memory lane with you. So many of the family farms have sold here in the last few years. I understand that when developers wave more money than you would make in a lifetime farming, you take it. But it's so sad to see all the land being gobbled up.
Being raised on a farm I love to be able to live where I can see cattle. I just hope they'll be some left.

What a great surprise, a windmill!! Husbands are so very hard to surprise, congrats!

Sall's Country Life said...

What a great story behind the windmill (the one that I've been admiring in your pictures prior to this)!! On our farm there are two,neither of which have all their parts yet. And yes, you have to travel quite a ways to see one that is still in tact!! Anyway, what a great surprise for Carl, and what a deserving one too.

Karen said...

Deb, thank you! Yes, the way land is disappearing it is downright frightening at times. I'm glad we still have our teeny farm here. And a windmill. I love cows, too!

Lisa, I hope you can find parts for your windmills. Isn't it amazing the prices they ask for them even as rebuilds? I was shocked and lucky to get a good deal. Carl can fix just about anything, and our windmill had some 'issues'. The two windmills that are still standing a coupla miles from here are in very bad shape; it's really sad to see them like that, but they are landmarks on that road.

lotusleaf said...

The profusion of flowers in their curving bed looks like a river of flowers. I am amazed by the amount of hard work you have done! Have a nice weekend!

Mac_fromAustralia said...

I love your story about the windmill.

Karen said...

lotusleaf and Mac_fromAustralia, thank you very much!

Beth said...

In a time when the garden blogs face information and photo drought due to fall/ are doing a SPLENDID job keeping us all entertained with your fabulous story of how you did it! I am LOVING this series, Karen! Hope this finds you well. We haven't had any snow yet. Today we are getting the first rain (other than 1/2") in 7 or 8 weeks. I am so thankful. My garden is getting watered in for the winter with no effort from me...I have lots of new perennials this spring, plus I planted 250 bulbs this fall.
Hugs and blessings, Beth

Jester said...

OMG Karen..... maybe we were twins separated at birth???? I knew if anyone would like my post on the cloisters it would be you!! As I was drooling all over I kept thinking "I bet Karen would LOVE this stuff"....& I swear to God, yesterday I was thinking a windmill would be a really cool addition. Not these frufru things hanging at garden stores, I wanted something oldfashioned & semi big to put on my "septic mountain"! & here you are talikng about windmills & about to give a lesson!!! YAY!!! My pix (have hundreds more!)were from "The Cloisters" at Fort Tyron Park in MAnhattan. Its part of "The MEt"...had to go for my art history classs. Alot of stonework is original pieces from all over Europe as well as the artwork. If you ever go to NY, this is the place you'll love most> It overlooks the Hudson River and has several gardens...going back in Spring to check them out. I'll be back here to read all about your AWESOME quarry when I get a break from school....of course now I want one & keep telling everyone I wish I had a as if someone would just magically drop one off at my house in the middle of the night as a gift!!!haahaha

Karen said...

Hi Beth, 250 bulbs, wow, you will have a gorgeous new display next spring. I 'm glad to hear you're getting some rain too, this has been the oddest year I can remember in quite some time. I'm sure glad you're enjoying the flashback series; I wasn't sure if it was the 'right' thing to post about, but I'm having fun. The wind is howling right now, I'm afraid I'll wake up to winter white outside....but it's getting to be that time of year. Hope you have a great weekend!

Jester, you're so funny, love your posts and comments. The Cloisters tour was another fantastic post, and I still go back and look at your abandoned barn, too. That barn just haunts me, what a beauty it was back in the day and still is now. If I ever do make it to NY someday, I will have to give you a call, you know all the great places to tour! And you would like a windmill, too? Maybe we were separated at birth, LOL! I'm working on the next part about raising the mill, but it's taking a little longer than I expected, too many other obligations right now, but it's in the works. Gotta love those old windmills! Have a good weekend!

Theresa said...

WoW! What an undertaking! Will have to do some more exploring on your remarkable blog. The Christmas story was very cute..."more work"...tee hee!

Autumn Belle said...

The frosty picture make me think of Christmas.

fer said...

Very beautiful story!
and i like the photo at the end too.