Monday, February 16, 2009

Stone Walls

Here in Oregon you will see most farm property boundaries marked with barb wire fencing on T-posts. Where I grew up the farms were established long before barbed wire and T-posts and their boundaries were marked in stone. On the Northeast Coast you can see stone walls where ever you go. They are a big part of the unnoticed background. You can be in a residential area or out in the woods and you will come across a stone wall that seems to go on forever.

One might wonder where all the stones came from and why they are in the middle of the woods, but then you realize that where ever there is a stone wall there was once a farm. Stones are hard on farm equipment and every spring they were picked out of the fields and they had to be placed somewhere, so they were used to build walls and homes.

During my years on the farm I recall the first chore of spring was to chain the stone boat to the tractor. I rode in the boat which was dragged back and forth through each field several times. When we’d come upon a stone I’d hop off and roll the rock onto the boat. When the boat was getting too heavy we’d drag it to where we built a dry wall out of the stones. We added several feet to that wall every year and I could see the handy work of those that had started the wall hundreds of years before I was born.

With the field cleared again it was ready to be ploughed, but we knew that just under the surface were another crop of stones that were ready to emerge during the next winter and become part of the on-going wall lengthening project.


Blogger Beth said...

I'm detecting a theme in the blogworld - stones, boulders, rocks...

4:30 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

On our first little farmette, when I was tilling the garden, it was not uncommon to till up such a large rock that it would stop the tiller. Here, we have no rocks, not even tiny ones, because this river bluff we live on is a windblown hill. The only rocks (and arrowheads) to be found on this place were carried here by humans.

4:36 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

So I wonder..... do you suppose Stonehenge was merely a joke by some bored farmers children? And I wonder about prolific places like Avebury and Carnac. Maybe henges were invented by farmers to give pagans a reason to get the stones up out of their dirt.

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot this damn tune will rattle around my head all day.......

They'll stone you when you're at the breakfast table
They'll stone you when you are young and able
They'll stone you when you're trying to make a buck
They'll stone you and then they'll say good luck
But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned


7:24 AM  
Blogger richpix said...


9:13 AM  
Blogger Zoe said...

I love stone walls. The have the smalllest of stone walls in my back yard, but it's my favorite feature. One of my favorite parts of visiting my in-laws is taking the hilly back roads and looking at all the lime stone walls undulate with the contour of the landscape.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Trish said...

Whenever I come across oddly placed or colored or shaped stones I always wonder about its history. There's always a story . . .

11:24 AM  
Blogger g said...

i'm a stonewall fan. love watching "this old house" where they reconstruct old stone walls.

thanks too for the education. i was unaware the stones were taken from the field.

6:46 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, great minds think alike.

Donna, There isn't a stone within miles of where I live now. Though they are interesting and useful, I'm glad I don't have any, because sometimes you find a big one that you can't deal with.

Darev, those stones were imported from 20 miles away and across water, but you knew that.

Moose, I thought that was your theme song.

Rich, Porcupines and rattlesnakes. Those were the most common critters that live in stone walls.

Zoe, they do impart a feeling of permanence and substance to any landscape.

Trish, the ancient history for your area was the ice age glaciers that distributed most of your stones, but yes, taking the time to carve one is remarkable.

g, did you see many when you lived in Oklahoma? That's where you lived wasn't it?

4:54 AM  
Blogger richpix said...

Guy, Mending Wall

8:01 AM  
Blogger g said...

i don't remember any while living in ok. i do remember (like you see in eastern oregon) seeing stone filled grates at intervals along a fenceline to brace the fence.

6:55 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

So Rich, I take it you don't recall how I feel about poetry.

g, the ones on the east coast are works of art. The stones are mostly round and the walls are dry (without mortar).

7:30 PM  
Blogger g said...

yeah, i watched "this old house" where an old timer built a mortarless wall in front of... an old house suprisingly. ;-)

5:22 PM  

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