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View Diary: Agriculture as art - the dry stone wall (34 comments)

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  •  Where I live in Connecticut (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shortfinals, RiveroftheWest, ozajh, Jay C

    we don't have rocky soil, we have dirty rocks.
    So the poor bas+ards that struggled to farm here, picked the rocks out of the "fields" and made walls of them. Rumor has it that they employed Indians to do this work on a will-work-for-food basis. The local Native Americans were not stone workers. They made tools from stone but they didn't build permanent structures. They must have though the white guys were nuts, but they did the work.
    So, all through the woods here there are miles of dry stone walls, hundreds of years old, defining fields and paddocks that are now, for the most part, reforested (since many of the farms here were abandoned in the latter half of the 19th century).
    Connecticut was almost completely clearcut by 1800. My grandmother's house, built in 1815-1820 was made of recycled wood. If you stand in certain places and look at the shape of the land and the arrangement of the walls, imagining the scene without trees, you can see the farms that were here, even sometimes find the foundations of the buildings they burned down for the nails when they moved west.
    CT is glacial till. The ice, coming down from Canada, ground off the tops of Vermont and New Hampshire and spread them over the land until it hit the coast. It ran another 15 miles offshore and dumped a terminal moraine out there that's now called Long Island. The rocks here are all kinds of stone from pink and grey granites to schist to various sedimentary rocks, et cetera. Some pockets, like Moodus and East Haddam have lots of layered rock so the stonewalls there are built of flat stone, nice and neat, easy to build and repair. But most of the stone here is not flat so oldschool masonry was much trickier. Modern masons (and that's a very lucrative business here in upscale exurbia) cut and break stone to get flat edges and faces (and they charge over $100/running foot for a 3 foot high wall!) but the original wall builders fit the stones together without cuts. Quite an art when it was done well.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 07:48:40 AM PST

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