Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring Crazies, Part 3

Ongoing reporting from our Destruction Project.

But first, a Walk Down Memory Lane:

This picture was taken in May of 1995 and shows our youngest son, David, almost 5 years old, sitting on one of the big rocks in the Formal Garden.  Dave was not happy the day I took this picture from across the garden.  Something had made him very sad (probably the fact that we were doing then what we're doing now, non-stop gardening)  and he was perched on top the rock holding a peony flower and crying a little.   I was hiding in a cedar tree with a telephoto lens which is what made the picture kinda blurry.  
So, when it came time to move this very same rock the other day, we decided we would try to get the now almost 21 year old Dave back out to the garden for an updated photo in the same position.
As you can see, David is still not very happy (because sixteen years later, we are STILL doing non-stop gardening) but at least he humored his Maternal Unit long enough to pose for this picture.  Thank you, David, you may go now.
 Speedy, isn't he?
Ok, Joel, you may move the rock now.

From Friday afternoon through Sunday (yes, even on Mother's Day) we moved rocks almost non-stop during the daylight hours.  Joel was able to give us a hand on Friday afternoon for a few hours which is what makes the rocks move a whole lot faster.  They respect Joel.

Carl has to pry the rocks out of the ground where they have become embedded over the last 20+ years and get the chains around them.
By this time, we are now on the other side of the staircase which is becoming more of a problem since we can't back down in the garden and each successive rock is getting farther and farther away.  Luckily the wrecker has a long cable.  We had to pull the rocks sideways in order to get them out without ruining the shrubs. 
Rock loaded, let's go.

As long as we don't drive off the edge of the quarry, we'll be ok.
This is the main hosta bed in our Woodland Bed.  If ever a garden could use big rocks, this one surely could.  We had a few big ones in there already, but they need company.  This bed is much prettier when the gardener cleans it up for the year in the fall.  The gardener (me) didn't get around to it last fall as I was tossing rocks in another place of the garden.  (The Something Else Bed).  It actually worked out well that I hadn't done my fall clean-up, though, because now when we're placing these big rocks we can see exactly how much space each hosta takes up by looking at the dead leaves flopped on the ground.
Up and Over the Wall

We tried to lower the stones over the tufa wall without disturbing them, but luckily, tufa is light and relatively easy to restack because we knocked a lot of them down.  We could have just yanked the big rocks out of the Formal Garden and put them on a pile, but since half the work of moving the rocks is getting them rigged in chains and on the wrecker, we decided to place them in their new homes right away.  So far, we've done a half-baked job of it, every one we've placed needs additional work, but at least they're where we want them to be.  We can come back and tweak them later.  (Or just throw a lot of mulch down and wait for the hostas to come up and cover 'em.)  To make a rock look natural, you're supposed to bury a goodly portion of it in the ground.  Yeah, we'll get to that.  Soon.  I promise.

We interrupt the never-ending pictures of a Messy Garden to show these little pansies/violas? blooming on the Quarry Hill.

Ok, back to work.
 Joel is pulling the cable on the wrecker out to it's full length so we can reach the rocks to hook them up.  This is when it really started to become a drag.  Literally.  We would let the cable out to it's farthest length and then hook chains to the cable until we had enough length to reach the rock.  Then we would crank the wrecker until we ran out of cable and then unhook the chain, unroll the cable out again and rehook to the chain attached to the rock.  Repeat the cranking until the cable was all back on the wrecker again, over and over, up to four times for one rock, dragging the rock through the flower bed inch by inch.

On Saturday, Carl and I were on our own with the rock moving.  (Joel has a Life outside of his idiotic parent's garden, believe it or not!) We took stock of what to do next.  The rocks were now getting bigger and farther away from us.  Since we weren't happy about dragging these huge rocks which in turn, were making huge ruts in the flower bed (plus, I'm not sure what has and hasn't emerged yet plant-wise)  this was when we got out our next tool in rock moving:
A hood off of a 1990 Pontiac Grand Prix.  Of course we have one, doesn't everyone?  And no, the car it came from wasn't in an accident.  This is all our fault.  We obtained the hood from our friend, Richard. 
How do you use a Pontiac Car Hood in the job of rock moving?  Well, it's like this: first you put the hood down on the ground in front of the rock you need to move. 

Then, you pry with crowbars to get your several thousand pound rock to flop over on top of the hood.  Then you return to the wrecker and start cranking.

There I am, taking my turn on Crank Duty.  (Actually, I'm pretty good at Crank Duty, just ask Carl, I'm cranky a lot lately.)
C'mon, little rock, don't be shy, come on over here.  Oh, drat, the other rock is in the way.
There, that's better.  This takes an amazingly long time, every time you turn the crank, the rock moves ever so slightly. The hood makes the rock slide more easily across the ground, and cuts down on the ruts.
Carl sometimes needs to give the rocks a Pep Talk.  They like to slide sideways off the hood and be difficult.
Though it doesn't show here very well, the lawn looked like a horrible accident had occurred before we were done, with red paint smeared all over the grass.
Finally, after almost an hour of cranking, the rock is hooked up and ready to roll.  This was one of the biggest ones we had in the Formal Garden, so I scouted out a place for it near the house so we could see it every day.
The area by our willow tree in the driveway is rather forlorn with just the tufa rock walls and a few scruffy hostas that aren't up yet.  Good place for a big rock.  But first, we have to get it there.
We couldn't lift the rock any higher because we were out of cable and it was a bit too tall, so we left the car hood under the rock.  Amazingly, it stayed under there for most of the trip to the front yard.
It did get a little squirrely coming through between the Quarry and the Escarpment, but it hung on.
Even when Carl had to make the tight turn around the end.  We were grateful it stayed on the car hood, this saved our lawn from some nasty ruts.
The hood is still hanging on as Carl approaches the road........but then.....Ooooops.......
Carl, you lost something!
Never mind, carry on.
What's a little rut in the driveway?  That's why we love gravel...those of you with pretty concrete or blacktopped driveways should look the other way.  I know it's a hard image to look at.. My apologies.

I backed the rock into place and Carl pried and yelled and pried some more.  We work so well together.
There it is, and boy does it need tweaking!  But it's there and that's all that matters.

Just this one rock took us over three hours to deal with.  We only managed to move five rocks total on Saturday.  The sun was going down, but we thought we might as well get one more rock started before giving up for the night.  Did I mention we have a bus trip with a group of Master Gardeners coming to tour on June 4th?  Ha ha ha ha ha...yes, we do.........oh, boy, work FASTER!  And yes, my posts are ridiculously long, but we put in ridiculously long days around here, thirteen hours in the garden on Saturday.

Remember I said we give away Free Upper Body Workouts to anyone who wants one?  When we were going back for the last rock of the evening on Saturday night, Richard and Emily stopped by for a visit:
Look at Emily having Fun.  (Thank you, Emily!)  Her husband, Richard, didn't want to be left out of the the Good Times, either:

It was getting dark, so this picture is blurry, but Richard is having a Wonderful Time, too, right, Richard?  Richard?  We'll be doing this on Sunday too, if you need to have more Fun.  Oh, you're busy?  Ok.  (Thanks to both Richard & Emily for helping us, we really appreciate it!)

On Sunday,  Joel was home for a few hours and was willing to help us again.  (Thank you, Joel!!)

I cooked a nice Mother's Day meal and had Mom over.  She thinks we are Silly to do all this work but she calmed down when I told her it was so we could downsize the gardens.  She's often chided me on the future and how I will keep this place up as I grow older.  "What will you do when you're my age?" she asks me constantly, but that's usually when she's helping me weed.

I have to stifle a guffaw before I say, "Well, if I'm lucky enough to see 90 years old, I'll be doing the same thing you're doing.  Weeding at 90."  

May we all be so lucky.


Darla said...

Girl I just shake my head at all this work....ya'll are some serious rock/boulder movers! How I wish one or two were headed my way...

Junebug said...

Wow, is all I can say of your hard work! I have a few big rocks in my front yard and needless to say they are staying right where they are after watching all the hard work that goes into moving just one. Continue on Mighty Mouse!!!

Lona said...

My goodness. I am amazed at all of the tricks you guys have for moving those rocks. I guess you have learned a lot throughout the years on how to make it all a little easier. It is just so much work but you have created a gorgeous quarry garden.

Alison said...

I love reading your progress reports! The big rock under the willow tree already looks good, it will look even better when it's been tweaked. I hope you're finished by the time the tour comes.

I am glad you're downsizing, I sometimes worry about how I'll keep up with my garden when I'm older, and I have nowhere near as much as you. I hope all the work you're doing actually accomplishes what you want (less work).

I don't want to give you more work to do, but I'm curious to see where all the plants are going, and what all you have growing there that will also need to be moved.

MorningGlory said...

Talk about dedication! I love the pictorial that accompanies each of your progress posts. I feel so ... lazy!

KK said...

i love the two pictures of David. his expressions are pricelss. it's so nice you took that last picture. i love the narrated updates on the rock moving.