But let's back up. When last we left poor me, I was sitting by the phone in the kitchen, staring into space. Oh-oh. This might be harder than we thought.
Carl came in the house just then and asked, "Well, what did you find out?"
"I found out they don't bring big rocks to your door."
We kicked this unfortunate fact around the ballpark for awhile after I explained to him how the conversation with Tim the Quarry Man went. But, gee whiz, were we going to get all discouraged over just one call? Alrighty, then, the quarry I just talked to won't bring me big rocks, so let's try the next one in the phone book.
And I did. The next quarry and the next, same story. I did refine my asking style a little bit so I didn't sound so pathetic, I mean really--'Hi, we want to build a quarry in our back yard'? I decided not to explain what we were going to do with the big rocks, but had no better luck..
I called C the excavator back again to ask for his thoughts, this is now the second time in the few short hours since he dug the hole for us.
"Well, no luck, huh? I don't know what to tell you, either. You'll have to see if you can find somebody willing to haul that for you, but I warn you ahead of time, not just anybody will do it. It's really hard on equipment." But C did give me some names of contractors who owned dump trucks to call.
Rocks the size we wanted, ranging in size from 1000 to 5000 pounds, are, as C said, incredibly hard on equipment from the loader picking up the rock to the dump truck for hauling it. There are dump trucks with special 'rock boxes' which are designed to withstand the tremendous load shock when a big rock is dumped into the back of the truck, but not many people owned those trucks around here.
A few agonizing weeks went by and lots of phone calls before I finally found a contractor who said he'd be willing to go the quarry for us, even though his trucks didn't have rock boxes. I told him what we were trying to build and what kind of stone we needed, the bigger the better please.
He said, "Well, I ain't gonna hand pick this rock out for you. I'm gonna send my driver to the quarry and tell him to tell them he wants blast rock. The quarry is probably going to use their big front end loader and whatever they scoop up from the blast pile is what you're going to get."
Ok, beggars can't be choosers. We were finally going to get some rocks.
The first seven dump truck loads, around 100 tons total, arrived early in November. On the very first load, the dumptruck box had a hole punched through it from the impact of the rocks being loaded. We couldn't have the stone unloaded here in our yard, because we had no place to dump them. At the time, we had only one driveway into our property, so I talked to Mom and she agreed to let the stone be delivered to the old cement cowyard where the barn used to stand.
I was there as each load was dumped, and it was quite the experience. The earth literally moved when those stones hit the ground. There were a lot of big stones on the loads, but there was also a whole lot of rubble too, because the quarry loader guy did just what they said he would, scooped up a bucket full of stone and what ever we got, we got. Since we were paying by the ton, we paid for stone we really couldn't use, which was a waste, but at least we had some stone to work with.
|The first seven loads|
While Carl and Joel were at school and work, I spent my days pitching the really small stones that we couldn't use on our old dumping trailer, usually a ton a day, and hauled them to the low spots on the farm lane, in attempt to fill the holes. Carl brought home some wooden pallets, and the rock I could lift or roll end over end was put on the pallets. When I had a full pallet, I would back under it with the forklift teeth and drive the pallet home.
|The first pallets of rock and the Barn in it's new home.|
Every night when Carl got home from work and the boys got home from school, we'd go out and place rocks in the quarry-to-be. We really didn't know where to start, so we just randomly picked a spot and got going. It takes a long time to place stones, at least the way we do it. We'd drag the rock as close as we could to where we were working and then unhook it. Then, we'd use crowbars and wooden blocks to 'walk' the stone over by hand into the finished position. We were lucky to get two placed a night.
|Joel bringing rock down the ramp with tractor.|
In the picture above, you can see the pond had filled in fairly well. It was hard to decide where to start and stop the stone placement, since we had no idea what the eventual water level would be. We had left a ramp when C dug the hole so we could get the tractor down there. The ladder was used to get out of the hole on the west side before we placed the other staircase. Not very pretty, is it?
Below, is a picture of the same area about two years later:
The days were so short in November and getting very cold. While driving the tractor down the lane with rocks, my hands would be freezing, so I'd stand up and grab the muffler with my gloved hands, holding them there long enough for the heat to permeate the gloves. Carl didn't get home til almost 4PM, and we had less than an hour of daylight left by then, so we buried an old tree trunk in the quarry sand with a light bulb and worked in the dim light until we couldn't feel our feet or fingers anymore.
|The main staircase going out toward the house.|
|The work crew--cold and getting dark out.|
|The west staircase|
|Teddy Dog found it to be great fun, too, and was constantly covered in sand.|
You can see ice on the pond in this December picture and the trees that I just had to plant in the area before the work was done. Yes, I jumped the gun on the planting, but I was so anxious to see how it would look with trees.
|East side with new trees|
|West side construction|
|December 8, 2002 As far as we would get that year.|
Stay tuned (if you're interested) for Spring 2003.