Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Rocks - and how to move them!

Right, so! We had 9 tonnes of rocks of assorted sizes to move about 100 metres uphill over grass. What to do? - and, more importantly, how on earth to do it?!
Himself being the inventive genius that he is decided that modern technology just wasn't going to cut it and we had to think laterally ..........to the Flintstones.
At the top of our garden we have a copse of conifer trees (actually old Christmas trees planted over the years by the previous owners of our house). One of the trees had blown over in a winter storm and had died, so Himself decided that we could kill two birds with one stone - as it were, and put the trunk to a couple of good uses. We could use part of it to build a trolley for transporting the stones and the rest for an anomometer tower to see if we'd got good enough wind for a small windmill (to keep our solar panels company). But first we had to get the trunk down the garden- via a narrow path past the compost bins, between the vegetable plots whilst not hitting the greenhouse in the process!

The tree had fallen over because the old concrete path had prevented it growing any deep roots on the east (path) side of the tree, so it had not had the strength to resist a very strong westerly wind.
Himself dug up most of the tree root base, but couldn't get it all out. It's leaning over just beyond his spade.

He then cut four slices of trunk and made holes in the middles of all the pieces for axels. I reckon that the axel was an even greater invention than the wheel!

We had some old iron pipes that made excellent levers. We used them to lift the trunk onto the wheels/axels and to move the 'vehicle' onto the path.

Himself reckons that "next time" (whaaah!) he'll get the axel hole more central!

Note how Himself adopted a supervisory role at this point! He claimed it was necessary to allow the girls to fully experience how useful levers are in the real world and how even slightly built people can move huge objects with them! Neat trick I reckon!

They then hauled the trunk down the garden.

(The Japanese garden area is to the left of the raspberries - visible just beyond and to the left of the girls.)
So the tree got us two pairs of wheels on axels and an anomometer tower - but that's a story for another day! We then had to convert wheels into a trolley for rocks..........!
Himself got two pieces of 3x2 and drilled holes in them to allow the axels to be pushed through. Although the wheels were loose and had nothing to stop them from sliding sideways (- and off if we weren't watching them!), it also meant that we had the leway to move the 3x2's to one side or the other to get the lever pole in to move the trolley sideways/up/down etc. It also allowed us to remove the wheels completely to slide the rocks off once they were in the right -ish place.
As can be seen from my expression, some of the rocks were a bit chunky and a might heavy!
Levers are wonderful!
Around me are a few of the smaller stones - we either carried them up the garden, or got our friends to, or put them in the wheelbarrow.
This wasn't the biggest rock - that took six of us to move it!
Pushing worked well on the tarmac of the yard.....
but pulling was good too!
We used towing strops from the Land Rover to haul the trolley up the lawn (well, moss really). Once on the grass, the technique involvedlaying half the strop on the ground and standing on it to pull, heave and haul the trolley until we had run out of strop or the wheels were about to fall off! The remaining wheels were chocked to stop the trolley rolling back down the hill (- it only did it the once, then we learnt!) and the strop was pulled through, we stood on it, pulled again ... and again...and again until we eventually reached the right place and levered the rock off the trolley. Himself was very good at levering rocks into the correct position in the first place - but I often then decided that it wasn't the right place after all!
The Japanese garden starts beyond the blue trampoline, up the shadey slope by the oak tree and bench and through the gap in the greenery. That slope is steeper than it looks!


spookydragonfly said...

I enjoyed seeing the progress of your pond(and all the manual labor!). I have many memories and photos of the same during all of our projects! I think my body is finally paying me back now! I'll keep tabs on your progress...a Japanese Garden...beautiful!

Nutty Gnome said...

Thank you - it's really nice to know that I'm not alone in my manual labours! Most of my friends think I'm a bit odd to slog my guts out in the garden so often. I have to confess that, like you, my body does have 'payback days' - I think it just needs to remind me I'm not actually 21 any more!

spookydragonfly said...

Recently, my doctor asked me if our dream was worth all the wear and tear on my body(suffering from neck and back pains everyday now), I couldn't believe he asked me that! Guess our values were different! I meant to tell you, I love your stone-age contraption!!

Nutty Gnome said...

I know what you mean - sometimes you just have to dig on regardless. A dream is always worth holding on to!
Have you tried reiki or tai chi for your neck and back pains? They really do work wonders!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I love clever solutions to problems, and a solution that looks like a Flinstones vehicle is so much the better!! :) I usually use tarps to lug big things around, but such things range only to shrubs with large root balls, not mega huge boulders!

Nutty Gnome said...

The flintstones trolley has worked really well - apart from its slight tendency for the wheels to slowly slither along the axels when we're pulling and not looking! We have had up to 7 people round it to shift the really big rocks - we have remarkably tolerant friends!

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

I love your blog and thanks for visiting mine! We put a pond in our backyard about 6 years ago, although not as big as yours. It is a lot of work! It sounds like you have a husband like mine that's willing to put in the hard work!

camellia said...

Hi Nutty Gnome. I'm impressed by all your hard work – stones, whole tree trunks and that pond lining. Who needs gyms, eh?

Nutty Gnome said...

Catherine - I'm glad you like my blog, thank you! Yes, Himself is very good on the grunt work and muscle. I did most of the pond digging, but did run out of steam from time to time, strangely enough! He has hauled the majority of the rocks though, bless him!

Camellia - welcome! You're right, it's certainly a good workout session!Better not mention the hernia at this point....!

Lucy said...

You must be very keen on Japanese Gardens.

I'm wondering if you are thinking of re-constructing Stone Henge.

Thanks for leaving your comments about brambles and buddleia on LOOSE AND LEAFY .

Lucy Corrander

Nutty Gnome said...

Hello Lucy and welcome. I've long had a bit of a thing about China and Japan, but the idea for a Japanese Garden stemmed from the need for a workspace away from the house where I could teach tai chi and treat clients using reiki and reflexology. Entering a treatment area through the peace and tranquility of a Japanese Garden just seemed to make sense to me - but I had NO idea of what I was undertaking when I first started it. Not that it would have stopped me, but I would have been more patient about how long it has taken me!
Stonehenge?, hmmm - now you've got me thinking....!

Laura Marie said...

O deary mutti....my hair was so very short and messy.... :( ... there are no pictures of all the help you got from the friends of mine that were crazy enough to help you!!! :O ... shame on you teehee... <3 love yoooo

Shady Gardener said...

Oh, my! You and Himself look as though you belong in my back yard! ;-) However, usually I'm the only one back there moving the rocks...
I look forward to reading more of your posts and visiting again. Thanks for visiting me! :-)

Nutty Gnome said...

Laura - your hair was lovely!Don't worry, your friends may well pop on on later blogs - and get the recognition they deserve! Love you too hon!

Shady - I'll happily come and move rocks with you for a change! I love your garden and your blog!