Saturday, November 19, 2011
Any stone pile, whether random or organized, is home to a wide variety of creatures. Some of them sting while others bite and those that slither sometimes cause me to dance and shriek. Late fall finds these insects and animals asleep for the winter. My solitary ownership of the stones now makes this wall building season. Many areas of the garden need work but the pull of the stones grabs and holds my attention.
Grass clippings were piled here this summer to kill the pasture grass. Once again the stone fork was the tool of choice. Pulling the clippings and what little remained of the dead plants to the next area to be cleared, left the soil ready to plant. Our narrow strip of river bottom land is free of stones. Top soil is deep here. Usually we find gravel just under the surface. We will for the first time build a wall in rich dirt. The stones may stay where placed or they may move around in response to frost action.
Large stones with at least one nearly flat surface form the first course of the wall. Custom holes are dug under each stone to accommodate wobble knobs. The flat face needs to be nearly horizontal. Any tip is in the direction of the wall's center. Rubble fills the voids and fine gravel seals the interior. My goal is to have the interior of the wall filled so that no critters can find space for a home. One experience of weeding plants next to a wall while hornets moved in and out of their home above me taught me to fill the voids.
Frost had firmed the ground this morning. A tap from the hammer loosens the stones but screening frozen gravel is impossible. Three pails of gravel are in the basement. They will get the building started tomorrow while the sun warms the frozen ground.