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Old 01-16-2013, 06:14 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Dry Stone Walling and general rock shifting.

Well guys, the time of year has come to do the hard slog on the land, unfortunately we have high winds, so trimming the trees and burning the resultant cut offs is proving none too safe.

So I am dry stone walling with of course the aid of Toby (who is sticking so close to me I am tripping over him) and Russell who is supervising from a safe distance, lol!

A good percentage of my land is held back by terrace walls. However, along the top piece of land there are several walls that, well, basically are just somewhere to put the stone that my mountain is made up of instead of having it spread all over the land.
I am repairing one such wall and have found treasure you wouldnt believe.

Okay, not treasure, but pieces of pots that have to be at least a hundred years old if not more. You see the walls were all constructed during the Moor occupation. Granted a good many have been repaired over the years, but not according to the guy I bought the land from since his great grandfathers time.

I just wish I had the labourers his grandfather used to have working for him to help me.

Unfortunately my camera is charging at the moment so I cannot post photos of todays work. But here are a couple of pics of last years work. You can tell where I have repaired by the difference in the colour of the stone.







By the way, can you see the staircase? It is how we move from one level to the next.

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Old 01-16-2013, 06:47 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Nice photos Toby'shuman - to bad the camera battery's went dead...would of loved to see more country side & Toby man.
- neat how the field stones are incorporated into your organic operation, due to the plots of land on hills

Unlike Spain, making stone walls for the olive tree farming - in Canada 50 years ago we had a small beef setup (40 animals) & pig farm (20 animals), and grew livestock crops of hay/wheat/corn. Every spring after the ground unfroze, visible stones use to pop up to the surface of the fields.
Pulling a trailer or hay wagon behind the farm tractor & stone picking always had to happen, so the new field stones didn't crash the hay/straw bailer, when the crop was taken off, in August. At 5 years old, I was steering the tractor down the open fields, and by 8, I was helping with the manual labor.
All the stones, were just dumped in a field corner - as we had no use for them, with relatively flat/slightly rolling land.
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:58 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I will be walling again tomorrow so never fear. Photos will be taken and posted.

If I were to just dump the stones in some corner I would end up not being able to move, honestly all the stones you see in the terrace walls and the walls dotted about the top acreage came from the land.

I swear if you could make money growing weeds and rocks I would be a multi billionaire.
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:05 AM   #4 (permalink)
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^^^^ LOL on the rich money part (harvesting stones & weeds) - 45 years ago, our Mom wanted my brother & I to pick mustard weed, in the hay field.
So I quickly offered, glad to do it...how about 1/10 cent-penny for each weed we pick ?
Mom agreed, and less than one hour later, I had 1000 weeds picked and made a fast $10 each (and my brother to)...to spent in the pool/billiard hall.
(that was when making $3 per hour was a decent wage)
- following year, my twin brother & I had to pick weeds, for free...now that sucked / farmers nightmare - overpaid one minute, under paid the rest
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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now that sucked / farmers nightmare - overpaid one minute, under paid the rest
Have yet to experience the overpaid bit, won't hold my breath just in case it doesnt come any time soon.
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:05 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I enjoy rock and stone work it is tough work but very satisfying. You probalby could not find the amount of rocks on your property in the state of florida unless you count shells.
Are those olive trees?
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:26 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I enjoy rock and stone work it is tough work but very satisfying. You probalby could not find the amount of rocks on your property in the state of florida unless you count shells.
Are those olive trees?
Yep, along with Carob and a few Almond dotted about on the Terraces.
Down the bottom of my land in the baranq, (dry river bed) I have some figs. Unfortunately it has gone a bit wild down there so I have to rescue them by cutting it all back at some point in the near future so I can see them much less harvest them.

Oh by the way, if Florida needs a few rocks I am happy to send them over, I have tonnes and tonnes of the blooming things.
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:28 AM   #8 (permalink)
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That's a lot of rocks!

CT is very rocky too, from the glaciers. We have lots of walls as well, but nothing like that! Must take a lot of work to keep up.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:28 PM   #9 (permalink)
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CT is very rocky too, from the glaciers. We have lots of walls as well, but nothing like that! Must take a lot of work to keep up.
Too much.

Unfortunately since my hubby's accident I am having to do most of the work myself. He does try to help bless him, but his balance has been affected which kind of gets a bit dicey when he is walking next to 2 and 3 metres drops.

When I saw the terrace walls (in the pics) had come down after a huge rainstorm I actually stood and cried my eyes out. It wasnt just the stone that had come down, but the dirt as well and trust me, there was tonnes of both.

It is one thing building from scratch, you get to choose your line, you sort out the stone into sizes, put it in place and build and in the case of the terrace walls you then backfill.

When it is a repair, you have to dig out the stone, (as was the case when terrace walls come down) sort it out into sizes, big ones for the base, slightly smaller for the next line and so on. You then have to dig out the soil so you have as straight line as possible so you can put the base stones in place. You then have to back fill behind the base stone, build the next line, back fill and so on. Whilst all the while linking it into the wall that is still standing.

On a walk around my land this morning I found 6 terrace walls in need of repair, as well as 2 more free standing walls, after which I have to build the wall as you drive onto our land into pillars so I can put a chain across the end of our driveway.

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Old 01-16-2013, 05:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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love that stone staircase!! took me a few moments to focus in on it. very cool!


you have a really cool place.

Hugz!
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:19 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Wow. What a neat place you have. Very nice pics! Looking forward to more.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:54 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Yesterdays and Todays Wall Building.

Some months back this wall was knocked down by a JCB driver who wasn't concentrating.

He left us with this mess to sort out.



To quote my hubby, 'Thanks a bunch mate!'.



As explained yesterday, when repairing you have to clear the area of both stone and soil (if there is any) then tie in the stones you are repairing the breach with into the original wall.





You continue to build upwards, backfilling throughout the build (or the whole thing will just collapse in or out on itself).

Till you end up with this....



And this...



As I needed access to the balsa (water tank) from this side I decided to create an entranceway instead of building a solid barrier.



Tomorrow I will be repairing one of my terrace walls. Hope you guys will stick around so I can show you how I do this too.



Oh, by the way, please excuse the general mess around the place, we are experiencing really high winds so a lot of rubbish is being blown around as well as I am in the process of building a few things so stuff is just laying around, which kind of makes the place look a dump, sorry.

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Old 01-17-2013, 10:51 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Awesome job you are doing!!!

i always wanted to work with stones but just never lived where I had enough rocks and stones to play with.

I love the 'warm' colors of your rocks too!

most of our rocks here are black or grey in color.

we have lots of granite and feldspar.
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Old 01-19-2013, 08:43 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Toby'shuman - Keep the update stories and photos flowing.
- baring a natural disaster or hit by a driver, what is the average length of time...between stone wall reconstruction (decades) ??
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:15 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Okay that is just too cool for words. I was just in New York and Connecticut picking up my pup (right in the aftermath of Sandy) my favorite part was driving through the outlying areas and seeing the large manor homes and the old stone walls. I can just imagine flying over those walls during a foxhunt (a drag hunt of course)

Out west here we really don't have any legacy structures like that.

I was planning a horse-buying trip to Andalucia several years ago. My health prevented my trip and fate intervened and I found a lovely imported PRE stallion here in the states. I still want to make the trip one day.

Your property is lovely! Isn't it amazing how the stone crops flourish every year regardless of the weather?

Best,

~Bev~
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Old 01-20-2013, 05:35 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Toby'shuman - Keep the update stories and photos flowing.
- baring a natural disaster or hit by a driver, what is the average length of time...between stone wall reconstruction (decades) ??
Will do Beaumont67. I was actually out yesterday rebuilding but unfortunately forgot to take my camera, hands full of tools but still, doh.

I have more planned either for today (if the weather clears up) or tomorrow so never fear more pics will be posted.

As for how old the terraces are, well here is what our local museum has to say about it all.

In 718 the Moors invaded this region and began to farm large areas of land most of which (in this area at least) is mountainous. They used terracing techniques to hold back the soil on the sides of the mountain, making platforms on which trees could be planted. (pretty much describes a terrace to be honest). Now if you take the date of invasion to the date of expulsion that would make the walls around 1250 years old. Now that is not to say my walls are this old, however, the Moors were kicked out of this region in 1492 which would make the walls 500 years old at least as they were in situ by the time they left. (recorded in local history books)

On my land I have several trees which the old guys in the village tell me are hundreds of years old. (they are Farga's which notoriously live for a very long time, anything up to 2000 years it is said, so I am not about to argue with those who know about this sort of thing). Now some of the trees sit right against/ on the edge of the walls which means both have been there for a whole parcel of time. At least for the duration of the trees life. Which if you want to take the age of the tree as being 300 years old (scientifically backed up as one fell down during a bad storm and the trunk rings read like a history book for both climatic changes and of course age). It was by no means the largest trunked tree I have on my land, just a shade more unfortunate than the others. Fargas amongst a couple of other types of tree grow enormously thick trunks that twist as they grow which helps in determining their age which means you can pretty much take it as read they are at least 300 years old if not a whole parcel more.

One thing.

As I repair the walls I have come to realise that I am seeing parts of the land which hasnt been seen since the walls were first erected. My hands handle stones that have been in place for hundreds of years and I find bits of pottery that have lain undisturbed for as long.

I cannot help but marvel at the ingenuity/skill/determination of the men who built the walls that make up my farm. It is truly a phenomenal feat of engineering, it is hard enough for me to simply repair, but to have to dig out the land into the terraces, bank up the soil, build walls, backfill and then plant the trees on them is one heck of an achievement.

My hat goes off to those guys.

Bev, isn't it just so amazing, I can manage to grow weeds and rocks just by sitting here, no matter what the weather, wish I could say the same about the cash crops.

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Old 01-21-2013, 08:05 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Todays work and the rocks strike back



The Martian Track, so called because of the colour of the soil. The track leads to the lower reaches of my farm which is where the walls that need repair can be found.

This mornings work.



I managed to do this small section in about 2 hours. Building within it a new access point as it really lent itself to having one here. It does need a bit more tidying here and there but most of the big stuff is in place.



This afternoons work.






What a mess, took a couple of minutes to figure out where to start, but.



As always first things first, start to dig it out and sort out the stones into different sizes.



Then start to replace the fallen stones back into line, starting with the big ones first where possible.



It was after moving this rock into position my back went into spasm which meant I had to pack it in for today or risk serious injury.

I am feeling pretty cross with myself that I let this stone get the better of me, but tomorrow is another day and that wall is going back up come hell or high water.

On the way home along the Martian track I spotted something that helped cheer me up. So I thought I would share.



Almond tree blossom. (bitter or as they are also known hereabouts cyanide almonds on account this is what they are).

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Old 01-21-2013, 09:26 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Keep those pics coming. They're great!!
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