Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Rocks, Rocks, Everywhere
We had an enjoyable, but short weekend with the extended family. The kids are growing, the baby is getting big, and another baby is on the way. Saturday morning was reserved for loading rocks. My dad had been brainstorming about where we should collect the rocks this trip. It continues to amaze me how just a few miles difference in location results in such different types of limestone. We drove to a couple places to see the rock, and collected from two places different from where we had gotten rock before. We started out in the pasture closest to home. I always love it when my dad is able to go with us, because he takes that 'ole John Deere tractor and loads some real prizes for me!! (AKA--gianormous rocks!!) In addition, J and I can walk around and throw (or hoist) rocks into his front end loader bucket and then he hauls them back to the trailer and dumps them out. That being said, I have had more rocks break when we do it this way, but it works out nonetheless. You can see above an example of the millions of rocks available to choose from!!
This trip was a little more fun, because we stopped in McPherson on the way and bought a different pickup for me to drive to work (it gets MUCH better gas mileage than the pickup that we just sold). So we got to load the backend of that pickup too!! We sent my dad home with a bucketful of rock to load into the other pickup. The second place we de-rocked, was a pile of OLD blackened, mossy rocks--the rock used to build the original house on the homestead. These old rock houses are very common around those parts--and are cool to see! Many of them were torn down and piled up and replaced with newer materials. This pile had some excellent specimens around 2 feet long and 8 inches thick or so. ABSOLUTELY, what I needed for the fire pit project! Backing up a bit, when we go, I usually have a project in mind and collect rocks accordingly. This time, I needed stacking rocks for a retaining wall and rock to make a firepit. Many of the pictures I have seen on the Internet were round pits, and I had already decided that a square-ish one was what I was after. So you can imagine my excitement to find these huge rectangular stones that would be perfect for the job!! In addition, at this pile, I also scouted a long (3 1/2 feet or so) flat rock--perfect for a stone bench (something else that has been in the back of my mind for years!) As we started picking out rock, I saw a second long flat rock and convinced my mom (who went out with us this time too) that we should take it home and make her a little bench too. Didn't take her long to agree. (I also think she was taking advantage of my dad's impressively "accommodating mood" that day!!)
This is what our trailer usually looks like after we get it all loaded up. Keep in mind the two huge, huge rocks we got this time are on the bottom. That's a lot of weight!!
Jeremy was totally into the fire pit idea. He has found that he likes to cook in a dutch oven, and began experimenting with some recipes last summer after cooking with our friend Lane at the lake. So it wasn't too hard to convince him that we NEEDED one of these little pits!! He was outside as soon as we got home to scope out the perfect place for it. I had in mind somewhere in our hardly seen back yard, that I could enjoy viewing from my kitchen window. (I also picked a place that doesn't seem to readily grow grass). Before church he was already doing some preliminary dirt work and leveling.
After church, when C was settled down for her nap, we went to work placing the rocks in formation and he and the boys mortared them together. Then we chose the flat rocks to put down around the pit. J also helped me unload the huge rocks into my retaining wall after he did some dirt work there--and I unloaded and placed the smaller ones. Finally, we took the kids up the road and shoveled some sand from the pit to wash in around the rock to keep them stable. Monday found me unloading the rest of the rock (I'm getting pretty handy with the Kuboda tractor) and finishing the flower bed borders.
God tells us to be thankful always and for all things, and this rock hunting excursion is not excluded! As I finished unloading rock yesterday, I was very thankful and blessed by the load we brought home. I find it fascinating to find that God looks out for me always, even in the craziness and seemingly insignificant task of finding THE perfect rocks for my projects. But He was definitely overseeing the choices we made and that blessed me tremendously!! It seems that I got the perfect rocks to . .
1.) Finish the retaining wall (even cooler looking than I had anticipated!!)
2.) Build a rectangular fire pit (approximately 4 1/2 feet by 2-3 feet)
3.) Put down a small rock "patio" area around the fire pit to stand or sit on
4.) Build a rock bench next to the fire pit
5.) Put a smallish raised bed planter around the firepit and bench for some extra interest
6.) Perfectly finish the rock border outlining the last flower bed on the north side of my house (the house perimeter flowerbeds on my north and east sides are already lined with a rock border)
7.) Improve the rock wall around my pitcher pump water feature (to make it a little more sturdy when kids insist on crawling on it) My goal when I went was rock for the retaining wall, the flower border, and at the last minute, flat rock for a patio floor. So you can see how exciting it was to end up with some "extra" fun projects.
My arms are feeling better today, I could actually squeeze toothpaste out of the tube this morning without wincing (seems that very few of my regular exercises actually tone those little muscles in my forearms), I could finally get my ring off last night over a swollen, bruised, and cut up knuckle (although I couldn't get it back on this morning), and my slightly sore back muscles are back to normal!! We have finishing touches to put on the projects (like some plants, washing the remaining sand off the patio stones, and some mulching) before I post the finished project pictures. Check back within the week for the finished projects! Enjoy the spring weather