Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How This All Started, Part 9

Here we go with Part 9 of the saga.  As the fall of 2003 lingered on, we continued working on the quarry.  In the picture above, Carl and Joel are getting ready to place the top rock on the little grotto-like sitting area. 
Joel is cranking the Manley Crane and Carl is guiding the rock into position
I remember asking Carl and Joel to pretend to be holding the ceiling up--yes, it was a corny shot, but they obliged me anyway by posing.

Once we were done with the little grotto-thing, we moved on to the east side of the quarry.  There we added the third and final staircase and finished up the terracing.  I had planted Wave petunias that year and they did surprisingly well considering the soil is almost pure sand.
It was at this point we realized the water level wasn't going to get any higher, so we had to add some more rocks to line the pond.  We wanted to have a row of stone to walk on and be next to the water.  The lowest rocks seen in this picture were brought in after the terrace rocks; it was a hassle beyond belief to get those stones in place!  We had to back down over the terrace rocks with the wrecker.   The water levels are a constant variable in the pond, and will be forever.  Some years, the ground water table is high, like this year, 2010; but in drought years, we are down to a mere puddle.  Yes, the perils of being a do it yourselfer. 
September  2003, putting the 'walking rocks' in place, backing the tractor and wrecker down in the hole was nerve-wracking. 

 We couldn't afford to line the pond, though we did talk to a pond specialist once after the quarry was in place for a few years.  He said it would be possible to put a liner in despite the fact the ground water rises and falls so much.  Oh, there was something about baffles and specialized pumps and equipment mentioned as he outlined our options.   I started to glaze over but jolted to attention when my checkbook burst into flames when I heard the estimate.  He was a very helpful person and I highly recommend talking to a professional to anyone considering a pond.  Unfortunately, we operate on the Flimsy Shoestring Budget and our shoestrings were starting to fray.  I doused the flaming checkbook and we thanked the man and left.

We have put rocks much lower in the water in recent years, trying to make the 'pond' more attractive as the water levels drop, but well, we weren't very successful.  Over the years, many a visitor's favorite comment has been:  "Your pond would look much nicer with more water in it."

Yes, it would, but without a liner, there's no way to keep it at a constant level.  We just live with whatever Mother Nature provides.  I'm certainly not about to stick a hose in there and run our well dry trying to keep the pond pretty.

 In this picture, taken in 2005, we have very low water conditions.  We were also using dye in the pond at that time, with mixed results.  This was taken before the north quarry hill addition..
 In this August 2010 picture, you can see the water is actually covering the rocks we usually walk on.  (I see we also have an algae problem too....)  The trees were removed and the north hill is in place, which is why everything looks so much different.  But the main point of these two pictures is to show what rainfall does to this so-called pond of ours.  If we get rain, we have a pond, if we don't, we have a puddle.  Feast or famine.

We had to pass on having a gorgeous pond.   Carl said the water level in real quarries fluctuates a great deal with the ground water levels, too.  We aim for reality here at Quarry Garden...that's our motto.  Cheap Reality.  (And yes, sometimes reality bites....)  Hey, it's all about the rocks anyway, at least for us.
Ok, back to east wall construction:

Finally, in late October of 2003, one year after the hole was dug, we had the lower quarry itself done.    In the picture above, David and Carl are standing on the east staircase, the third and final stairs Carl put in for access in and out of the quarry.

By now, it was approaching mid- November 2003.   We took a look at the waterfall again.  We weren't satisfied with the way it looked (and still aren't, sigh) and decided we needed something behind the pile of rocks to make it look more natural.   Not that a pile of rocks in a flat, former alfalfa field ever looks really natural, but that was our goal, ok?

We had to begin to haul the 30 dump truck loads of dirt from the quarry excavation back to the quarry site one yard at a time from the pile up by the woods.  We needed the sand to build the area up into a hill so we could keep putting rocks in place behind the waterfall rocks.  This is the way it worked: Joel and the Super H would head up to the sand pile, a quarter mile away in the Back Eight, and I would follow with the 574 and the dump trailer.  He would load my trailer and I'd drive back down the lane to where we were working.  Carl would tell me where to dump it and I'd head back up to the woods for the next load.

Talk about being happy to have a tractor with a loader on it!  Consider this: the average dump truck holds around 30 yards of soil.  We had 30 dump truck loads hauled to the woods, and our little trailer only holds a yard.  So, over the next six years, we hauled home 900 yards of soil one load at a time for the quarry garden additions.  900 trips one way.  But at least we didn't have to shovel them. 

Joel, Super H and the ever present crowbars, rocks and sand adding dirt for the next part of the project, the Quarry Hill.  November 2003.
 I've said it before, but I'll say it again, I LOVE TRACTORS!


Anonymous said...

What a truly amazing endeavor. I had to take a double take on the number in the series. Nine! This is the best series and themes in all of the blogs, a real must see. I have been giving you five picks to help to make sure you get on the list. This series is so deserving and should be followed by all gardeners. This has been a fun journey. Your story has been humorous and informative. The image with the canoe is so beautiful, it says so much about the place you are creating. A monumental labor of love.

I will never complain about my bulb planting again. It seems so miniscule in comparison to all your effort and work. Granted, I have NO help really, but that is no excuse to complain after seeing what you and your family has accomplished.

BTW. That small wall on my recent post, was done by the owner while we were constructing the big walls, not shown. I left you a reply to your comment. It kept the owner busy and out of our hair.

Shirley said...

I agree with the author of GardenWalkGardenTalk, this is the best series I have read in blogger land. Great narrative and photos. Do your lilies remain in the pond all year round?

xoxoxo said...

My first thought at seeing your "puddle" was to add sand to the bottom like a beach... and then I Bwaahahahahahah'd at myself being that you ALREADY have sand.
but maybe a different sand would stay put.
Amazing story!

Beth said...

Karen, I am really enjoying reading your series on building the quarry. Your gardens are absolutely incredible and the work you put into them is just amazing.
Blessings, Beth

Jester said...

I am so bogged down for time right now & I'm dying to read all your "episodes"!!!! I am sooooo envenious or your gardens!! Its nice knowing that there is someone else besides me that is nuts about rocks too!!HAHAHA
When I get a break with school & life I am sooooooo going through your blog nice and slow... like reading a great book. You are an awesome woman & I'm keeping you in my prayers that whatever is going on healthwise for you, that everything turns out fine. You're the best!!

Karen said...

Donna, thank you very much, I am humbled. I wasn't sure too many people would be interested in this, after all, the last four posts have been basically the same- get a rock, place a rock, and if I keep going in sequential order, that's what the next six posts will be, too. As you said, I don't do this alone, for without all of us working, it wouldn't have happened. And I have a 5 gallon pail of daffodil bulbs to plant yet, too (and I'm complaining--love the flowers, but not the planting process!) Your client did a wonderful job on his stone wall, too. Thanks again!

Shirley, yes, the lilies are winter hardy here and come back year after year. Sometimes Carl thinks they're too big, but so far I've just let them do their thing. Thank you!

xoxoxo, You're right, we have sand, and lots of it alright, ha. We just decided to quit stressing and let the pond 'do it's thing', which is code for 'we don't have enough money to fix it) LOL

Hi Beth, great to hear from you! Thank you for your interest in this seemingly never-ending series.

Jester, thank you for the prayers; I think they are working because I'm feeling better than I had been. I hope things settle down for you, too. Your busy schedule would wear me right out, gads, sometimes I feel ancient. I hope you enjoy the rest of the 'episodes'--lol!

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Hi Karen. It is wonderful to see all that went into your making of the quarry. Of course I did not do any of that work. LOL! My lands what a job it was but when you look at it now it was well worth all that sweat and back aches. The pond and ledges are so beautiful. I hope you got your bushel of bulbs planted.Have a wonderful weekend!