This week, we spent a half a day picking rock in a two-acre field at the west end of our property. We spread manure, disced and planted winter rye in the space with plans to grow a majority of our produce in this “new” area in the spring. The soil in this field has a sandy texture compared to they heavy clay we have been working on the east end and the drainage is much better. The soil doesn’t clod into large chunks when wet and we find fewer rocks.
As a farmer, it doesn’t take long to realize that every step in the growing process hinges on our soil type and condition. From seed germination and water retention to laying plastic mulch and getting into an area with a tractor. Rather than forcing the process in an unsuitable area, we are taking the operation to better ground and can not wait to see what this new ground will bring. And for once we feel like we are putting the horse in front of the cart getting some cover crops in rotation before produce.
So while we are out in the field picking up rocks, we can’t help but look around at the piles of moss-covered rocks scattered here and there in each of our fields and pastures. The piles are quite large and centered to make the shortest walk from any part of the field. Some of our piles have rocks as large as a 55-gallon drum! It makes a person wonder about the people who put those rocks there. Who were they? What tools did they have to make the job easier? We know some of these piles were started back in the late 1800’s when this area was homesteaded. Were their children in the field helping or off climbing in the trees along the wood’s edge? What would they think about their land today? Did the deer come eat on their crops like ours today? Were predators a problem for their livestock? Did someone have their hands on this huge rock and try to get it out of the ground a century ago only to find it too large to budge? What it must have been like here when those rock piles were started? How much harder they had to work? How much their lives depended on their ability to be successful in their growing season? How much they relied on community support?
Humbly picking our rock,
Eric & Rebecca