Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stone Detective

Our land was originally part of a 130 acre triangular shaped farm.  Roughly half of the land was quality  bottom land well suited to farming bordering the Unadilla River.  Twisted lumpy glacial deposits covered the higher ground.  1887 is the oldest date on deeds we have covering this land.  It was settled prior to the coming of the railroad in the 1860s.  The first deeded owner, Ezekiel W. Batterson, operated an inn on the primitive wagon road from Sidney to Gilbertsville.  Today's pictures were taken where the flat bottom land graded into the area of sloped gravel deposits.   Picture one looks at a primitive borrow pit.  Hand tools removed gravel from here to be used elsewhere on the farm.  Our machine opened gravel pit is adjacent to this primitive dig.

This break in the stone wall lies in line with the borrow pit.  Horse and wagon likely hauled gravel through this break in the wall to the stage road.  Spring road maintenance was the responsibility of the landowner early in our country's history.  Today this stone wall marks a property line separating our lumpy sloped ground from the rich bottom land.

Here we see two different methods of handling the stone picked from the field.  My guess is that the wall was built first as stone was unloaded from a horse powered stone boat.  Placing the stone in a stack kept the ground open for the next load.  The stone in the heap was likely thrown from a wagon.  If the stone was on a wagon, heaving it would be less work than placing it in a wall.

This is the the newest stone pile along our property line.  Lack of covering vegetation easily shows the relative youth of this pile.  The last farmer left this ground 24 years ago.  This stone pile must be older that that.  The height of this pile suggests that it was dumped from a tractor bucket.  The stones in this pile are also smaller than the stones in the wall.  Every year the frost sends a new crop of stone to the surface. The new crop contains smaller but more numerous stones.  There is never a crop failure with the stone.

All of the stone shown in these photos lies on the neighbor's land except the wall that forms the actual property line.  I have permission to use the neighbor's stone to rebuild our common wall.   That task is far down on the to do list since this ground is far removed from our house and gardens.  No one would see the restored wall by any means other than photographs.


Sam I Am...... said...

What beautiful land you have! Where do you live..I kept trying to figure it out. I didn't recognize the river name. You seem quite knowledgeable about your land too. Fascinating to me! Thanks for sharing and LOVE that garden catalog!

Becky said...

The southern boundary of New York State is a straight horizontal line until it touches the Delaware River. Then the boundary becomes squiggly as the river forms the division. We are about 20 miles due north of the point of change from straight to squiggle.

Tim MacSweeney said...

Enjoyed finding your blog this morning! I linked to your blog from mine,
and here too:
because of the photo of the stone heap - and a little more. I'd love to see a photo of the Eel Weir...