Monday, May 9, 2011

Rocks That Roll & Heavy Metal

Welcome to Week Two of the Destruction of the Formal Garden.  The rocks have been moving out at a respectable pace, they've been quite cooperative since getting their Eviction Notices. 

While Carl is at work, I work on transplanting the perennials to other garden beds around the property and scout out places where the displaced rocks can find a new home.  Thankfully, it's not a problem around here.  There's always room for Rocks.

Here's the process:

Hook the rock up

Yell at the tractor driver to PULL

The rock follows orders and disappears into the shrubbery
And here, on the other side of the trees is where the heavy metal comes in, our ever trusty tractor.

We had to hook and rehook the chains several times from long to short because our space is limited on the backside of the spruce trees, but with two people working together, it's not so bad.  When one person tries to do this alone, it's not impossible, but it's more tiring since you have to get on and off the tractor multiple times and because the tractor driver cannot see where the rock is going.  One thing we don't need is scarred up tree trunks.
Though he's not visible here, Joel is driving the tractor.  I was in the driver's seat before Joel got home from work but when he volunteered to come out and help, I went back to transplanting and photographing the spectacle.  We made a pile of rocks on the back side of the garden until there was no more room to put them and then we started dumping them off here and there around the yard using the forklift teeth.  These are medium-sized rocks, though I was surprised by how large a few of them looked out of the ground.
Carl slings the chain over his shoulders and Joel heads off to drop off a rock at its new home.  
The first thirty rocks are out.  The next ones are much bigger.  Time for another piece of Heavy Metal.
Here it comes...
The Manley Wrecker!  Fear this, rocks.

For those of you who have been following the antics around here, the Manley Wrecker will be a rerun.  For those of you who are new to the craziness, allow me to introduce you to the best $75 dollars we have EVER spent.  And we owe it all to Arnie.

 Arnie was a collector of All Things Useful, a guy much like Carl.  Arnie lived in a woods a few miles from us that was filled with his treasures.   I'm not sure how many acres were involved, but at least a few.  By the time I came to know him, he was living alone on his property.  I'm not sure exactly how his collection got started, but I believe at one time he had worked in demolition and had a knack for finding industrial stuff and outright mechanical antiques at auctions.  Just like Carl, he had boundless optimism and enthusiasm for life.  And it was in Arnie's woods that we found our Rock Hauling Salvation.  (And our Aermotor windmill and our second driveway culvert and the legs for the Dome in the Formal Garden.)  If Arnie had not passed away, I'm sure we would still be visiting him, seeing what we could purchase from his Wooded Wonderland.  We miss him.

Ten years ago we were prowling around in the brush in Arnie's woods when Carl spotted the wrecker.  He knew immediately what it was.  I didn't.  To me, it looked like a rusty machine of some sort.  The way Carl carried on, I thought he'd found the Holy Grail. 

"Oh..... do you know what this is?!" he asked me.

I assured him I didn't know what it was, though had I known at the time how much work this machine would save us all (or maybe it's created more?) I would have danced a Happy Dance right then and there. 

"It's a wrecker!  They used to put these on the beds of trucks and when you ran in the ditch back in the day, this is what they came to pull you out with.  Look, it has a swivel-head on it...and oh, look, it was modified to have a motor on it, but then they put the hand crank back on it.  This is just what we need!"

I looked at the rusty contraption of angle irons and cables and sighed.  Yes, this is definitely JUST what we needed.  More junk, I thought sarcastically.  But I was wrong.  Next to the tractors, this rusty old hunk of junk has saved our backs and enabled us to move rocks beyond our means. 

Carl had to build a trailer under the machine using old truck axles and one wheel off his 1967 Buick LeSabre and the other one off of my dad's old International hay baler.   We  really should have replaced the cables and we really must repaint the poor thing, but it is rarely out of use around here.  Someday I would love to restore it.  And for those of you who are thinking, "What a piece of junk!" you're right, it sure doesn't look like much to the untrained, non-rock hauling eye.  But, believe it or not, I was contacted by a man from Montana who was willing to drive here to buy the wrecker from us; he'd seen a picture of it on one of my online photo albums and wanted to know if he could buy it.  The answer was, of course, thanks but no thanks, this little wrecker is staying put right here.

Now don't get me wrong, it's still a lot of work to hand crank the rocks up in the air.  You won't get a better upper body workout anywhere for the price. (See, if people stop in to watch us work, they receive a Complimentary Free Rock Lifting Experience from us.  Aren't we generous?  Tom Sawyer knew what he was up to when he tricked his friends into whitewashing the fence for him.  You have to make it look like Fun with a captial F.)   Even I can hand crank a rock weighing 3000 pounds up in the air, it just takes me longer then the menfolk. 
Going up........
Going Away...
Hopefully not going into the Pond.......
 We don't have a whole lot of room to maneuver the equipment here; we have to back up and go forward about five times just to get turned around.  
There we go.................the rock is off to it's new home in the Woodland Bed:

So there you have the process, chain up a rock, crank up a rock, haul a rock, dig a hole, crank the rock down, unhook the chains, drive back to the next rock.  Repeat.  236 times for this job. 

More on this to come......LOTS more.......rain is forecast for most of this week, but right now, the sun is shining and I have hundreds of perennials to move. 

I wish I could  trick entice people into helping with the transplanting.

It's really a LOT of Fun.  


Junebug said...

I love your stories but oh my, the work. I know it will be fabulous when finished!

FlowerLady said...

DH just came in to look at your wrecker. What a GREAT tool! One you couldn't replace for the price you guys paid.

It is hard work, but you are doing it yourselves, creating new garden spaces.


Missy said...

The amount of work you guys get through, even with your heavy metal, never ceases to amaze me. I love to show John your posts - to inspire him...LOL.

Lona said...

It makes my back hurt just to watch your DH and Joel moving those boulders. That is a handy machine you all have made to move the bigger ones.Looks like you are getting some better weather to work in too Karen.

xoxoxo said...

I love all your rocks! I have but 1 single rock of what YOU call medium size. I want more--wanna drop some off over at my place in Seattle?
And WHY are you doing this again? :D

Tufa Girl said...

I love the wrecker. So sorry about Arnie, he was a great collector. What happened to his property? Any chance for a tour of the place to see what other treasure are hidden there?

Gatsbys Gardens said...


I have been complaining about my back and my knees but after seeing what you are doing I am going to keep my mouth shut!


Pam's English Garden said...

Dear Karen, I just read your last several postings to review WHY you are putting yourself through this. I get it -- you want to simplify! Simplifying is my mantra right now. You will be so glad you did this when you are my age. P x said...

I was wondering the whole post where the rocks were going. Finally you said. Many more to go too.