Friday, September 8, 2017

What's a Quarry Without More Rocks?

I'm going to be playing catch up on what happened around here this summer, but in typical me-fashion, the events won't be chronological.  Coining Monty Python and the 'Search for the Holy Grail', I'll be skipping ahead a bit, brother.  And then back again, but oh, well, you'll see...

Carl and I spent the last week of August into the first week in September hauling rocks.  Our friend, Leo, called and asked if we'd be interested in some rocks he had purchased a decade or so ago which were left over from his raised garden bed project.  Of course, the answer was yes even though we have plenty of work here to attend to.  The siren call of rocks needing a good home was too hard to resist.  Besides, surely it wouldn't take long to load them up and haul them the eight miles home.  There weren't that many. 

  Well, at least, that's what we thought.  In the picture above there is a scoop shovel head lying near the pile which gives a fairly good indication of the size of the rocks we needed to wrangle.  None of them were too big to pick up, but none of them were mere pebbles, either.  The rocks had sunk into the ground, so each of them needed to be shoveled loose.  And to make matters more interesting, the pile was home to a village of really large, black and red ants who quite rightfully despised our invasion.  

Our first plan was to simply drive the car and trailer through the narrow opening between Leo's greenhouse and garden bed outlined in stone.  Carl managed to squeeze the Oldsmobile with our increasingly decrepit trailer into the small area and parked right next to the rock pile.  We commenced to loading, stopping when the springs on the trailer were starting to flatten out.  In no time at all we had our first ton of stone ready to roll toward home.  

Ah, but nothing is ever that easy, sadly.  As Carl maneuvered the car and trailer back through the narrow opening, the trailer slid over on the steep hill and lodged itself right into Leo's greenhouse.  Drat.
 Yeah.  That's not cool.  Carl tried unhooking the trailer and we pushed and pulled it into a new angle, but no luck.  We had no choice but to unload all the stone, carrying them one by one to the driveway.  Ok, not a problem, we had the trailer empty in about fifteen minutes, drove ahead, and reloaded the stone.  The slow drive home was uneventful; we took back roads and a half hour later, arrived at our house.  

Not knowing what we were really going to do with the stone, Carl opted to put it all on pallets so we could move it easily with the tractor.  The first load filled nine pallets and I was staring at them uneasily; hmmmm........I dislike handling rock more than we have to and pallets only last a year on the ground necessitating the need to move them to new pallets which is, of course, more handling.  

But, ok, maybe pallets weren't the worst idea.  After all, there's not that much stone there.  It was four o'clock in the afternoon, we were still fresh, there was still daylight, and Joel was on his way out to wind the church clock in town, and kindly offered to help us load the next batch.  Carl's next idea was to haul our old lawn mower and garden trailer so we could transport the stone from the pile to Leo's driveway as we weren't about to try to drive the car back into the same area again.  After we had the equipment loaded, back to Leo's we went. 

Having Joel help load was a blessing, it's amazing how much faster the work goes with his help.  With me manning the shovel, digging up the rocks, and the two men putting them on the garden trailer and then driving to the car trailer, unloading and then coming back, in no time at all, we had a full load.  Unfortunately, as it turned out, a little TOO full of a load.

I eyeballed the heaping helping of granite before getting into the car, "Are you sure we'll make it home with this load?"  

"I'll drive slow.  It will be fine.  Get in," Carl said.  

Joel remained behind to shovel out a few more stones for us before leaving for his home.  

It was obvious we had a much bigger load on the trailer this time as every bump in the road was exaggerated by the tug of the trailer on the car.  True to his word, Carl crept along at 30 mph as we inched our way home.  We crossed the major highway and proceeded on the back roads, chatting as we drove along, when suddenly a tire blew out on the passenger side.

"Now what?" I asked, but Carl kept on going. 

"We're only three miles from home, maybe the tire will hang on," Carl said.

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the tire separated itself from the rim and went a good fifteen feet up in the air before rolling down in the ditch.  Now we were on the rim.  

"We have to stop, you'll ruin the wheel," I protested.

"The rim is already shot," Carl pointed out. 

"Well, we're leaving a two-sided grooved trail on the road which anyone will be able to track," I said.

At that, Carl admitted defeat and I dialed Joel's cell number.  He was halfway back to Green Bay but turned around and came to his parental units rescue once again.

That's a big ol' load of rocks.
The car jack could not lift the trailer, so Joel took me home with him to our house and we located the floor jack while Carl stayed with the load.

After changing out the tire and letting the load down off the jack, wouldn't you know our luck; the spare tire was underinflated.  Carl thought we'd be ok, he'd just drive even more slowly; surely we could limp along for a measly three miles.  We tried to send Joel home with our thanks, but he said, "I'll follow you just to make sure."

I opted to ride along with Joel.  He went down the road and turned around in a driveway to catch up to Carl.  We needn't have hurried; Carl had only gone an eighth of a mile when the spare tire also went flat. 

Flat tires Number Two and Three

 Joel and I went back to our house, picked up two more spare tires, made sure to fill them with the air compressor and scurried back to Carl one more time.  This time, he put two new tires on the trailer and voila, we made it home with no further incident.  We learned our lesson, 'Do Not Overload the Trailer.'

Once secure in the fact we were home, Joel then returned to Green Bay with our thanks.   It was still light out, so once again, we unloaded the rocks back by the windmill, filling up an amazing amount of spare pallets.  We'd thought at the outset that there would be approximately five loads (or tons) of granite, but as it turned out, after all was said and done, it came out to eleven loads total.    We'd figured on a possible two day estimate of the hauling time which stretched out to over a week, especially when Leo decided he wanted to get rid of some substantially bigger boulders that were already incorporated into his landscaping. 

Awful picture due to getting dark, but Carl is winching this beauty on.

Leo did not want to part with his Lion, though, so it stayed put.
 The boulders needed to have the trailer deck tipped down and come-along straps and a three ton chain hoist used to winch them onto the trailer.  Some of the later loads contained only two rocks due to their weight.  We'd learned our lesson about overloading. 

The first three loads had all been placed on pallets until it became obvious we didn't have enough pallets, so I talked Carl into building more low walls around the top of the Formal Garden.  We simply backed the trailer into the garden and unloaded each load as we brought it home from Leo's.  We were already handling the rock three times, considering we had to pick it off the pile, put it in the garden trailer, drive it to the car and reload it onto the car trailer, drive home, and unload it one more time onto pallets.  This way, we were done with it once it was on the wall.

Round granite doesn't stack very well, and, no, it is NOT a good idea to pile tons of rock on tree roots, but the spruce trees are dying anyway, with or without the stonework.  Once the trees are dead and gone, we will replant with cedar or something else, but for now, we have tree trunks and stone walls.

 The little pile didn't look THAT big, now did it?  Looks can be deceiving, can't they?  Ann stopped in last Friday morning and helped me unload the first eleven pallets we'd brought home the first day.  I cheated, though, and went and got the tractor to haul them to the wall.  Enough of this walking around, carrying rocks, work smarter, not harder.

The Oldsmobile, a 1989, decided to call in sick on Friday afternoon when Carl was leaving work.  He had purchased a new battery and a new starter and was just about to take the car in to a mechanic to redo the exhaust system (which fell off about two years ago) and to have me call the DMV for a new front license plate (which also fell off who-knows-how-long-ago? since he just noticed it was missing) but I talked him out of it.  Heck, the value of the car doubles whenever we put a full tank of gas in it.  I hate it as much as he does, but we do have to say goodbye to the old gray ghost and soon. We're weird, but our cars become like family.  The Oldsmobile is older than our son, David, who turned 27 in June. They don't make 'em like that anymore.  

So, that does it for the latest rock hauling saga.  Below are photos of the last of the bigger rocks I still have to find a home for.

Hmmmmm......what should we do with these?
 I'll keep you posted on where they end up.

Next up: More Updates on 2017 Changes


Rebecca said...

What a process, but totally worth it for free rock! The walls look lovely.

Indie said...

Wow, that's a lot of work, but the results look great! An old oldsmobile was my first car, and I drove that thing to death. I remember I'd have to turn off the AC if I wanted to accelerate. On the week of my wedding I'd drive people around in it, and we would all worry together if it would make it through the week (but it did!). I loved that car, though!

Pam's English Garden said...

Pity about the lion. P. x

Karen said...

Thank you, Rebecca! Gotta love free rock.

Indie, another fan of the Oldsmobile! I agree, it is/was a great car, rides like a dream and has up until this point in its 26th year, never let us down. What a track record, right?

Pam, I know. We could always find room for a lion around here, too. :-)

Ellie's friend from canada said...

No wonder you've been busy! What a project you undertook. As a rock gardener myself, the temptation of free rock is hard to pass up. A neighbour had a rock garden that was long since buried by soil. They took it out and all the rocks (slabs of dolomite) were piled in the alley when I discovered them. A quick call to the neighbour who just as quickly asked if I'd like them. I didn't know how to get them home until a friend liberated his grandchildren's wagon and loaded the wagon, for several trips, rolled them down the alley up the little hill to my yard. Minor compared to your labours! I am so fond of old Oldsmobiles. It was sad when my mother became legally blind and could no longer drive. I had to sell her old Olds. My brother became incapacitated at the same time and i had to sell his, too. One of my cab drivers commented that cabbies love old Olds because that is what earlier cabs were. He had been eyeing the old Olds for sometime and became the loving owner of both. Nice to have them go to someone who loved them, a good home. My last task this summer is to have my gardener move a small pile of rundlerock (dark charcoal coloured) from the front yard, where she donated it to me, to its final destination. Free rock!!

Your efforts are really impressive!

Garden Fancy said...

Projects.... they always seem so easy, until they don't. Such a familiar sounding story. I'm glad you got the rocks back to your place eventually, and they look very nice in your gardens! Wishing you many warm autumn days, -Beth

Peonies & Magnolias said...

Love your story and rock wall. Awesome friends you have!!!

Karen said...

Ellie's friend from Canada, another rock collector and Oldsmobile aficionado! I'm glad you were able to acquire some free rock, too. I am not sure what will happen to the Olds; we have a potentially interested party, but the car is really in tough shape. For now, Carl continues to drive it to work. Amazing car. :-)

Karen said...

Beth, yes, nothing is ever easy when it comes to stone which we should have learned by now, but seemingly can't get through our heads after all these years. I hope you're having great weather, too. Ours has been perfect this week.

Karen said...

Peonies & Magnolias, thank you! And yes, you are correct, we do have wonderful friends, willing to give us rock and/or a helping hand.

outlawgardener said...

Another one for the list of amazing feats accomplished the Quarry Garden! Eleven loads of stone and no one had to go to the emergency room? Truly impressive!

Karen said...

Peter, I know, we were lucky once again. Trailer tires were the only casualties.