Monday, November 7, 2011
Old Stone Dump
With the first snowfall our attention shifted to preparing for winter. This section of the lane was difficult to plow since the bank prevented the plow from discharging its snow to the side. A long ruffle would build up in front of the plow until the ridge was passed. Removing the bank would solve that problem. Pry bar, stone fork and shovel began their attack on the bank.
Stones littered the surface of this hedgerow at fields edge but the true nature of this piece of ground had gone unnoticed. Sizeable trees grew there in fair numbers. I was surprised to discover that a mound was actually an old stone dump formed when the field was cleared many decades ago. Stone of all sizes had been hand picked from the field and dumped here. Neglected for many years, spent vegetation had fallen on the stone. The combination of stone, leaves, water and time produces a finely grained black compost that we call duff. It is our favorite natural soil amendment but it is difficult to come by.
Cutting back the bank became mining duff. The stone fork was used first to pull stones from the ground. Large stones were piled at the side. The large mesh wire screen was used to sift out smaller stone. These stones were placed in the shallow trench dug alongside the lane. Screened duff was moved up the hill and piled near the garden. The wheelbarrow pictured is filled with finely screened duff. Compare its color with the new soil in the shade garden.
These larger stones from the dump have been moved to the site of our next stone wall. Passersby question the placement of the wall in the middle of the mown area. They are surprised to learn that this is a temporary stone pile. The planned wall will be built nearby. It is no more work to pile the stone than it is to throw the stone in a heap. Working from the neat stack will be easier than picking stone from a jumbled mess.
Our original task was to improve our driveway. This section of that job is nearing completion. If winter holds off for a while, there will be time to begin to build this wall near the highway that will identify the location of Stone Wall Garden. Now few know what lies at the top of the hill.