Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Trash To Treasure

When we purchased this land 25 years ago, we  knew that our new land was part of a Colonial farm.  Since the farmhouse was large and stylishly built, the land was expected to be well suited to farming.  Our tumbled land overlooked the river bottom land that likely made the farm prosperous.  Unknown to us was the fact that the farmhouse also served as an inn for people making the two day journey from Sidney to Gilbertsville.

Following the closing, hand tools were brought to the location selected for our new garden.  Imagine our shocked surprise when a four tined spade could not be pushed into the ground.  Glacier broken stones littered the soil in huge numbers.  A wire mesh screen was pressed into action to separate soil from stone.  That method is still in use today but at least one new screen had to be built.

A use for all of  that stone had to be found.  Planting beds five feet wide were edged with stone paths three feet wide.  That still left us with more stone than could be used so the extra was dumped where we needed a driveway.  This sounds like an immense amount of work for a soon to be retired schoolteacher because it was.  I am not alone in believing that both the physical work and keeping my body in a condition  that could handle that exertion are major factors in my continued presence here.

It may also be my Irish genetic inheritance that compels me to work poor stony soil.  I enjoy both the required effort and the finished product.  There is almost no dollar cost to time spent this way.   Piling these irregular stone shapes into a hidden wall that keeps the path out of the planting bed is satisfying.  Another wall is necessary to keep the stones out of the lawn and it soon will follow.  The finished path is both functional and attractive.  Some weeds will appear in the path but their numbers will remain small if the interlopers are pulled.

This area in front of our house should be finished this summer.  Several stone dams lessen the slope where we plant and they have been in place for more than a few years.  Another stone path lies between the house and the planted ground.  Not only does it handle roof runoff but if provides us with a place to stand to tend the plants.  Many do not understand why so much time is spent with shovel in hand but I find both the physical effort and the mental task of securely placing irregular stones extremely satisfying.

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