Not Set in Stone

Although we try to get down to the farm almost every weekend, there are times when I need M’s expertise on a few projects at home I am unable (or unwilling) to tackle like the kitchen sink constantly backing up (despite multiple past efforts to deal with it), or things that just can’t keep getting putting off – like changing the oil on the motorcycles and fixing the electrical short on the Land Cruiser so we can drive it after dark.

I think M is always secretly thrilled when we get to stay home – mainly because he can sleep in a little bit longer and he gets a reprieve from yet another commute. Well, let me rephrase that – he can stay in bed a little longer. Two roosters crowing from 4:00 am on just outside your bedroom window does not allow for much extra sleep. (Farm design note – place the coop as far from the bedroom window as possible.)  That reminds me, we’d only have to hear one rooster crowing if he had the time to get around to “harvesting” the last cockerel from our most recent hatching. I’m still “too chicken” to do it myself…

Jose' - the Spanish Dancing Chicken. He does a mean flamenco.

Jose’ – the Spanish Dancing Chicken. He does a mean flamenco when the ladies are around.

But the 240 mile round trip also adds up in fuel costs and we only have two days get things done around the farm, so we try to maximize every single trip down.  As previously posted, we pick up a truck bed full of dairy cow manure every chance we get from a farm on our way down.  The last couple of weekends we have been picking up loads of flagstone.  Adding these to our whirlwind working weekends has been hard.  By the time we make the pick-ups and spend the time unloading when we get there, it doesn’t leave much time for all of the other things we really need to get done like peeling the rest of the logs, limbing the rest of the trees in the field and then dragging them under cover to get peeled before they rot.

We also need to chip up the limbs to mix in with the cow manure for the compost piles. We still have cover crop seeding and tree transplanting to do and we are trying to buy a tractor before we break our backs.  The most pressing project that we haven’t been able to get started on is finishing the interior of the barn.  I suppose you can only do so much when you are running back and forth.

Lots of work yes, but there’s always a silver lining if you look close enough.  Like meeting the very nice family that wanted to get rid of about 1000 sq ft of flagstone set in a huge patio area in their yard.  M had just asked me to keep an eye out for stone on craigslist and my first search turned up this ad asking for offers on their flagstone.  I quickly responded having no idea what to offer as I had not had time to research how much stone we needed let alone how much it would cost. I threw some silly number out there and even offered to come pull the stone from their yard for a discount.  They said they had a few offers under consideration and would get back to me.

A week went by – I was so busy with everything else I almost forgot about it.  I assumed they must have sold it in the meantime, so went back to searching and their ad popped back up.  I had done a little research in the meantime (and realized how silly my first offer was!) so made another more reasonable offer.  A little more negotiating and the stone was mine.  We still got a great deal in comparison to what we’d have to pay retail, but the bonus was meeting the couple and their sweet little daughter.  We are always so thrilled to meet genuinely kind people and we’ve met so many since we embarked on our journey to farming.  I think stepping out of the hustle and bustle associated with “big city” living allows you to slow down and appreciate people and nature more.

About 4 trips with the pick up and the cargo trailer loaded to get it all to the farm

About 4 trips with the pick up and the cargo trailer loaded to get it all to the farm

So now we have stacks of stone that we plan to use for paths through the gardens.  By slightly sloping them, we will create a passive irrigation system on contour. The water will follow the stone footpaths between the beds and very slowly wind down the hill eventually spilling into a pond.

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About La Femme Farmer

Starting up a small farm is the goal for the second half of my life. It's a late start I know, but better late than NEVER! Growing food, cooking and eating are my passions and now I get to do it full-time (and then some). and yes, that's a tomato from my garden!
This entry was posted in Homesteading, Permaculture, Water Management. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Not Set in Stone

  1. DM says:

    that is some sweet flag stone! This sentence jumped out @ me : “We are always so thrilled to meet genuinely kind people and we’ve met so many since we embarked on our journey to farming.” That has been my experience again and again as I’ve interacted with people @ our self serve apple stand…there really are a lot of genuinely good people out there. Sure there are some bad apples (pun intended) but I think they are a very small minority. great rooster picture! And finally, boy, you guys pack a lot into your weekends! DM

    • Where we live right now the people are, well, lets say a little “self-absorbed”. I think that is why we are always so taken aback when we encounter truly kind people. Not the “what can you do for me” kind.
      Yes – we do keep a busy schedule. Unfortunately our motto seems to be “no rest for the weary”. The double life is taxing but we just trying to keep our eyes on the prize!

  2. mashazager says:

    I understand the concept – and we’re doing something similar with rotting logs – but having trouble picturing it exactly. Will the flagstones be one layer deep, or stacked into mini-terraces as they are on the pallets? One layer deep doesn’t seem like enough to slow the water; multiple layers might be unstable to walk on. Also, what angle off the contour are you using? I’ve seen several (conflicting) recommendations on that subject. I’m asking because we have leftover flagstones that we could dedicate to this purpose – ours have just been sitting around for a couple of years looking messy.
    -Masha

    • Funny you should ask! I was trying to get M to flesh out the part about the stone paths but he hasn’t had two seconds to himself of late. I’ve read your post on the log terraces, so I see where you are confused. Our property too is sloped, but most of the area where the stone will be used is pretty flat (leveled during site prep for barn and house) and the stones will be set just enough to move the water very slowly through the keyhole bed design. The other section near our recently installed cistern is a little more sloped and the paths will run back and forth in a very exaggerated serpentine fashion. I was going to ask
      M to sketch it up and will ask him to further explain when he has a chance.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Bob Braxton says:

    We have a corner (suburban) lot – no vegetable and no crop(s). My spouse is family’s head gardener. She has a few ROUND “stones” spaced in small flower gardens (here and there) about 1 1/2″ thick and 12″ or 16″ in diameter, cast (like cinder material). In addition, we have 18″ square CUT that are laid meandering from the downhill side of the drive, along the downhill side of the house, to the near steps of our rear deck, around the perimeter of that same deck, and in to the far steps same rear deck and a little further past two large stone bench seats next to the red maple tree and the white oak tree. Spouse likes your kind of flagstone(s). What sort of base do you all intend to support the stones. In our garden(s), the “stones” tend to sink lower and lower. My reading able walkways indicates that base preparation is by far the most important part of such a job / project.

  4. Hi Bob –
    we are going to put landscape cloth down and then set the stone in gravel. I see now that I should have waited until M had time to add more detail about the stone, but now I think he will probably just do a whole post on it!
    What’s that saying “always leave them wanting more”? 😉

  5. Bill says:

    That’s a great example of recycling. I’d love to have a big stack of those stones here.

    Jose is a handsome bird. We have a coop right outside our bedroom window, with two roosters who usually crank up about 5. I think I’ve gotten used to it.

    • That is our mantra around here Bill – “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”! and I do try to think hard about any purchases I have to make – how much packaging, how long will it last, can it be used for more than one thing, can I find it locally, can I live without it?

  6. What a great load of flagstone. It can be hard to find around here unless you pay through the nose to a landscaping design place. About a decade ago, we scored a pickup load of old brick – free from a house demolition. I had big plans for brick paths in my veg garden, but never got to it (story of my life), and now prefer to get the big garden tilled by a local tractor guy after the winter spent in cover crop/green manure anyway, and the beds I dig by hand don’t need paths as they’re only 4 feet wide. The pile of bricks is still more or less stacked behind the barn, beloved of garter snakes in the summer (very warm). They get used for all sorts of things, like holding down feed can lids, or propping up things I want off the ground, but so far not for paths. Your flagstones will be great for your permaculture gardens, though and perhaps there will be creeping thyme or chamomile between a few of them?

    • Oh, how I’d love to get my hands on a truckload of free brick! But I hear ya – M and I were just discussing that we need to be careful about all of the “great stuff” we are starting to collect and that we need a designated spot on the farm to store it. We also have to make ourselves keep it organized and under some sort of shelter. I don’t want a big junk pile. It will be our “Zone of Accumulation”.
      and yes – lots of creeping thyme (my personal favorite ground cover), chamomile, etc… everywhere, because if I don’t fill it in with something I like, Mother Nature will fill it in with what she likes.
      Hope you had a great trip – I’m keeping an eye out for a post on it!

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