Sunday, December 28, 2014
Overnight rain left the ground wet this morning. This pile of spring dumped stone has been calling to me for months. The large stone with the flat surface was wiggled from the new pile to my ground when first discovered. With no way to move this great wall stone because of its size and location, I had to find a way to grab at least part of this beauty. Becky and I headed out with this stone as our destination. I brought my hammer and stone splitting chisels. She brought the camera.
This piece of woods is downhill from the gravel bank hill. Our property line runs along the center of the old stone wall. The cultivated field was part of the original farm but is now owned by an absentee neighbor. He has granted me stone gathering rights but there is no way to bring either my lawn tractor nor truck to this area. Anything that I remove must be hand carried up the hill.
Several roughly parallel cracks extended part way across the edge of this stone. The deep grove on the flat surface and between the two chisels was made this spring by the farmer's tillage tool. His instant response might have been colorful language but he soon returned with a bucket loader to remove a load of stone from the field. He dumped the newly gathered stones where field stones have always been dropped. Planting corn was his agenda. My desire to have this stone probably never occurred to him.
My chances for cleanly splitting the top layer of stone were questionable from the start. The existing weathered cracks were wavy and extended only part way around the stone. A sharp resistant sound resulting from the first hammer strike confirmed my fears. Past experience had taught me that a hard section inside of the stone would make a clean split highly unlikely. An interior silver gray deposit was revealed when a small section fell away. These brown stones with an impossibly hard silver colored core have been seen here many times.
How these rocks were formed remains a mystery to me. Surface fossils indicate that a sedimentary deposit under water initially formed the stone. Some sort of solution bearing dissolved minerals must have penetrated the stone forming the hard core. It also contains fossils so the exposure to the solution may have occurred after the rock was forming. All that I know for certain is that the core is extremely hard and the brown edge stone easily breaks away from it.
This is the result of my pounding. Vast differences can be seen on the newly exposed interior surfaces. The brown upper section is rough with poorly defined remains of sea life. Beneath it the slightly deeper surface shows the brown edge and the silvery hard interior. A blue colored section further complicates the issue.
This nearly intact flat wall stone has been walked a short distance toward the uphill climb to the operational floor of the gravel bank. Repeated future walks will likely complete the move. With time and luck, this stone will find a place as a capstone on a new dry field stone wall. Once placed, I will be able to recall my effort to acquire this stone as I sit upon it. The pain this stone caused the farmer and his equipment will also be visible in its scratched surface. This was truly time well spent. A walk in our woods and retrieving a free stone for the wall might be a cheap date, but we always enjoy time spent together this way!
Leaving this stone in the woods was simply not an option. Becky suggested that our hand truck and her yoga cinch strap could be used to pull the stone up the hill. Pausing to rest while on a slope and holding tightly to the cargo was a bit of a trick but I am still upright and the stone is now resting atop a wall. This pile of stones left over from the wall by the road is waiting for the next project but for now it has a somewhat finished appearance to it.