Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rockin': Clearing the Old wall and beginning the repair

Now that I knew I'd be waiting for several days before we had clearance to dig the trench, I began working on repairing the old wall. Before I could do anything else, I would have to clear all of the vegetation off of it. I started at the north end of the wall where a small cherry tree was growing. This is what it looked like at the start:

The north end of the old wall before clearing

When you walked around the end of the wall, this was the view to the south. Notice that there is a rather large stump propped up against the wall. I moved that out, and when I noticed what I nice piece of wood it was, I moved it over to the deck beside the Inn:

Looking south

I started by pruning the low hanging branches of the cherry tree and pulling out all the excess vegetation, piling it up on the west side of the wall (out of view from the street side). Already things were beginning to look better:


This is where I ended on the first day of clearing. Take a look at the end of the wall. Notice how it humps up there right at the end? I did, and it bothered me quite a bit. It would be several days before I would do anything about it though. That's kind of how it goes when doing this kind of work, though; you notice something that's going to need to be addressed and file it away, knowing that you will have to do something about it eventually.

On my second day of clearing I got the whole wall exposed. In the photo above, you can see the larger cherry tree. This is a look at the south end of the wall while I'm standing beside the big tree.

South End cleared

This is what it looked like when standing on the west side near the south corner looking north:


The only part of the wall I didn't clear was on the inside corner. It was loaded with nettles and I wasn't about to tangle with them without a weed whacker. When I stood on the east side of the wall (toward Route 138) and looked north, this was the view I got:

Looking north toward the Inn

To repair on old stone wall, you first have to locate two sound sections of wall. Once you have those, you can begin taking apart the broken part and laying the stones out so you can see what you have. Building a dry stone wall is a relatively simple process. In essence, you are building two parallel walls that lean in toward each other and filling the center section with smaller, irregular stones. Believe it or not, there are two sound sections of wall in the photo above.

So, I took the wall apart, laid the stones out in a single layer so that I could see them all and then started rebuilding. This picture was taken at the end of the first day (I think) and has a couple of interesting features:

a wider view

You can see a huge root sticking out of the dirt in front of the wall. That is a bittersweet root. Bittersweet was introduced by the Army Corps of Engineers to control erosion and has become the kudzu of the Northeast. One of its interesting features is that it will continue to grow in thickness through its entire life. My sister, Jane, has seen roots (and branches) as thick as a person's thigh. It is this ability to keep growing like that that helps bittersweet to tear apart a wall stone by stone.

I have laid down a couple of courses of solid stone here. If you look at the top of the wall toward the corner, you can see that all of the capstones are tilted back, toward the corn field. Those would have to be fixed as part of the repair.

1 comment:

Nardpants said...

Fantastic work/pictures Dad! It's cool to see the progression of work on the wall.

These are the things that interest me. If any of them are of interest to you, great. Read along


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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.