Some people have all the luck. Take Pablo at Roundrock Journal, for instance. Not only does Pablo have cute, cuddly, nameable rocks at Roundrock, such as Stoneman, he is also blessed with the good fortune to possess other memorable specimens. Specimens with names like “Craters o’the Moon” and “Orange Rock”. It almost makes you want to go out and adopt the first piece of orphaned schist you can find. Don’t do it!
Rocks are evil. Evil, I tell you. And how do I know this to be true? Ladies and gentlemen, I grow rocks. Real rocks. Big rocks. And I harvest these rocks. Before you click away from this page, muttering something like “I know rocks, and Hal must be off of his”, let me tell you a little (true) anecdote.
During our first season of owning this place we call home, I spent a great deal of time picking up rocks from our various pastures and fields. In two fields next to the house, I took extra pains to be certain I picked up all of the rocks, because I intended to add these fields into hay production, and hay equipment and rocks don’t mix. Using the front-end loader on the tractor, a rock bar, and lots of stoop-labor, I eventually managed to strip these two fields clean of any rocks.
Winter came and went, then spring arrived, and the grass was growing tall. When June rolled around the grass was just about in it’s prime to be baled. Now it doesn’t make economic sense for me to cut and bale my own hay, so I usually have a neighbor do it for me on a share basis. In this particular year, a neighbor named Boots came around with his tractor to cut the hay. After just a short time cutting grass – BANG. The sickle-bar mower had hit a rock, damaging several of it’s cutting teeth. Boots replaced the damaged parts and began cutting again, when another loud BANG could be heard. More damage to the sickle-bar mower. And more time spent repairing the mower. When this happened a third time, Boots came over to have a talk with me.
Boots: “I thought ya said ya picked up all them rocks”
Hal: “I did. I picked up every rock in sight for nearly a month last summer”
Boots: “Yeah, but yer field growed more of them rocks this winter”
Hal: “My field grew WHAT this winter?”
Boots: “It growed more rocks. Didn’t ya harvest ‘em this spring?”
Hal: “Harvest WHAT?”
Boots: “The rocks. Ya gotta harvest ‘em each spring”.
Now I thought that old Boots had been out in the sun too long or something, but you know what? He was absolutely right. These fields do grow rocks. It is apparently part of a geological process that is normal in the Ozarks. The best way that I can explain the process that is going on in my fields is to have you picture a batch of chocolate-chip cookie dough spread out in a pan. This would represent my field – an amalgam of soil and rock. If you were to pick out all of the chips that appear on the surface of the dough, leaving no more chips visible, that would be analogous to my picking up the rocks in my field during the summertime. Whenever the soil expands and contracts, such as in a freeze/thaw cycle, or a wet/dry cycle, the resulting dynamics that ensue create an up-force to the rocks below the surface. Eventually, they will rise to the surface, waiting for just the right moment to inflict their havoc on the unsuspecting, as seen here:
If you recall from a previous post, we suffer the loss of chickens and guineas due mostly to daytime predation. In an effort to stem the tide of such losses, Retta and I have decided to take these two fields (closest to the house) out of hay production. We intend to keep the grass short this year in these areas, in the hope that our fowl will stand a better chance of survival. To that end, I was busy with the tractor this morning cutting the grass in these fields, when – BANG – the bush-hog hit a rock. It was a sneaky rock, hiding like the one in the previous photo, barely above the surface of the soil, but extending out just enough to get snagged by the corner of my bush-hog:
And here you see that, in addition to finishing up the mowing, Hal now has to haul away a big rock, fill in and compact a big hole, and fix the broken blade on the bush-hog:
These are the kind of evil, good-for-nothing rocks I have to deal with out here. None that are cute, none that are cuddly – just DANG ROCKS!