Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My Big Rock Wall

This wall has a interesting history. The granite fieldstone rocks were originally split by a local stone mason during the 1930's, to create a retaining wall for a playground area at the local school. They are all what I would call basketball size. They were split by hand, there is a definite trick to splitting granite. People tell me there is a grain to these, but it takes a real trained eye to see it. They had built a new school and converted the building into an assisted living facility. The playground area was split up and a individual was going to build a house on the side where the retaining wall was. I was driving by one day and the wall was being bulldozed. Now with my penchant for rocks, I went back and asked what was going to happen to the rock. I was told they were going to have to pay to have them removed. I asked if I could have a few , sure help yourself, was the answer. The rocks had been cemented together but in the process of breaking down the wall, I suppose since they had been there for 75 years, or maybe the fieldstone were not washed when it was built, there was not the super bond to the rock and a lot of the cement broke off. This made them easier to work with. As I cleared up the loose pile. The next day the owner had taken the skidloader and used it to looseen up more of the cement off the rock. It took me more than a week loading the rock by hand on my little truck and hauling them home, piling them up. I did not have a plan for what to do with them yet. I wound up with a huge pile of rock, most of which had one flat side. As that was the reason for the original splitting purpose, the wall being flat. I got the idea that one end of our garden that had a retaining wall of old railroad ties would look better if it was made out of rock. That took another week of digging out the old ties and cutting back the dirt to prep for the rock wall. The plan was to make a stack wall. By using the larger boulders on the base. and making the wall so it leans back into the hill a slight degree, made the wall very stable. It took longer to build as I had to find rocks that were compatible to being next to each other and I also wanted the flat side to be on the surface. The main wall is about 3 to 4 foot high and aproximitely 30 feet long. I had enough rock to build a 18-24 inch wall around the rest of the garden as well as a composte pile area wall. I feel really good about this project. I couldn't see all those rocks being wasted. I am a big believer in recycling materials. Plus I like the history aspect of the use of these rocks. If you made it this far on the post, thanks for your patience.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Garage Rocks

I had a little rock and siding left over when we build the new garage a few years back. I'm really glad we went for the larger single door. It allows for much better use of interior space. I was running out of rock at this point. But we managed to find enough for the front.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

North Rock Wall

This is the north wall, a whole nuther summer. One blistering hot day when I was working on this wall. All of a sudden a van stops. Out gets my wife and a couple of our friends. They don't say anything, but unpack lawn chairs, pour themselves drinks and beers and just sit there watching me work. Well, that pretty much gave me the hint it was time to stop for the day. I did finish my load of cement, it was to much work making it to waste it.

I was getting a little loony I think when I got down to this part. See the wave pattern and look close.

you can what I mean here. I had this urge to place this ceraamic head into the wall. People do not see it, until it is pointed out to them.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Another View

A view from another direction. Showing the newer rock path. We, dug up a perfectly good cement sidewalk and replaced it with this [ at my wife's instance] a wavy rock one. I do admit it looks neater and the water from the roof has some place to go. See where the drain pipe comes down from the gutter in the middle of the picture ? It goes into a plastic garbage can for watering. A added feature was when I punched a hole about half way down from the top of the barrel. I inserted a hose adapter, attached a flat hose, the kind with holes in it for watering. I had to enlarge the holes because the pressure of the water in the barrel was a lot less than what one would get from a normal pressured hose. This flat hose is strung along the ground the length of the house. Watering all the plants that don't get watered because of the overhang.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rock Siding

The front of the house is pretty much covered with softball sized rocks. This was a summer project a number of years ago. I decided to make it unique in that most of the time when you see a rock siding it is made of much larger rock. Which would save much time installing.
I never had a cement mixer so all the cement was mixed in a 2.5 cubic ft. wheelbarrow. This took me a whole summer to do. Our daughter was dating a farmer at the time. I suppose first being a nice guy and maybe getting a few points with 'dad'. He dropped off a couple of loads of rock that were the result of spring rock picking in the field. Anyway it worked for me. But it was a very slow process. The main problem was you could only lay up a couple of feet of rock , then you had to let it set up. There is a lip of the foundation that sticks out, which created a footing and every foot or so I would pound in long cement nails into the underlying block wall to give it a bond.
The upper part is made of old deep cut wavy cedar siding, that was salvaged from another building. I'm told one can not buy this type of heavy cedar siding anymore.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

More Rock Paths

An other rock path. It splits to the left and right while leading up tp the center pond. The one on the right goes south then east up the hill turning north for about 200 feet, almost all across the property. Ending at what I call my Zen Garden.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I just had to borrow this . It's true !

Why Minnesotans will survive the next Ice Age

60 above zero:
Floridians turn on the heat.
People in Minnesota plant gardens.

50 above zero:
Californians shiver uncontrollably.
People in Duluth sunbathe.

40 above zero:
Italian & English cars won't start.
People in Minnesota drive with the windows down.
20 above zero:
Floridians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hats.
Ohioans complain of freezing weather.
People in Minnesota throw on a flannel shirt.

15 above zero:
New York landlords finally turn up the heat.
People in Minnesota have the last cookout before it gets cold.

People in Miami all die.
Minnesotans close the windows.

10 below zero:
Californians fly away to Mexico.
People in Minnesota get out their winter coats.

25 below zero:
Hollywood disintegrates.
The Girl Scouts in Minnesota are selling cookies door to door.

40 below zero:
Washington DC runs out of hot air.
People in Minnesota let the dogs sleep indoors.

100 below zero:
Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Minnesotans get upset because they can't start the Mini-Van.

460 below zero:
ALL atomic motion stops.
People in Minnesota start saying..."Cold 'nuff fer ya?"

500 below zero:
Hell freezes over.
Minnesota public schools will open 2 hours late.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Rock Paths

These photos show some of the paths we have made. They go around the front of the house and in the back area is a winding one going up a slope. We have found our grandchildren love to use the paths, chasing each other and just checking them out to see what grandpa and grandma have done now. I have grown partial to rocks over the 25 years I have been collecting them from farmers rock piles. Many a time I was invited to come out into the field to pick my own 'fresh ' ones. I resisted, chosing to pick through the piles that were stacked in the 'back forty' . Rocks rocks of all kinds, one problem with rocks around here is they are all fieldstone in the sense of granite, roundish kind of stones.
I wanted to built some walkways of rock and after building a patio area out of ones that had naturally split in some fashion. I decided to buy some flat ones. Now rocks are sold by weight. So while .20 cents a pound does not sound like much. When I went to buy the first pallet of speckled sandstone, which weighted about 1500 pounds it cost $280. Needless to say my poor truck did not want to hall it home 30 miles. Dragging and swerving it's tail all the way, but we made it. Over the years I've picked up 3 more loads . The last one cost $360, inflation even for rocks I guess.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Moon Phases in the Garden

This stainless steel sculpture called "Moon Phases" was made a number of years ago. A composer I know from Minneapolis, Paul Dice, liked to experiment with percussion sounds. At the time. He dribbled pennys over it, used different sticks and mallets to get different tones. He even took it on the road, borrowing it to play in several performances of his. Even at the State Fair one year. This summer I moved it and created a homage to Paul's Art. I sprinkled about $10 in pennys on it letting them fall where they may. My grandkids had a little trouble dealing with the idea that they were not supposed to pick up the 'money' which now I view as integral to the sculpture, repeating the the larger forms. With Hostas growing around the base.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sculpture in the garden

This is one of the sculptures I made that is in the garden. It is about 7 feet tall. Made out of welded steel cement nails. It faces west so late in the summer afternoon the front is lite up brightly and gets a golden look. A unexpected function was when birds made made a nest in the head.