When we lived in Illinois I had a thing for rocks. I'd see a rock and ask if we could take it home. Most people do that for puppies...Not Me. I wanted rocks. I even picked up a couple of stray rocks from fields (if I could lift them into the truck - or once, because it was easier, onto the floor of the passenger side of our car) and brought them ceremoniously home to the hill in our backyard.
I'm happy to say that desire for a rock garden is going to be fulfilled.
We got a text from Jesse this morning saying the excavator was up at the lot starting on the rock wall behind our house. He said I was welcome to go up and watch and make suggestions regarding the layout.
When I got there, the first two boulders were already placed. Mark, the backhoe operator, jumped out and we chatted for a couple of minutes about how we envisioned the space being used. He said he would straighten out the rocks that were already in place and I reassured him that he didn't need to as I actually don't believe nature ever creates in straight lines. I said we wanted the wall strong, but not perfectly straight.
I got a huge kick out of watching him operate his hoe. He had such finesse and really used the boom and the shovel as an extension of his arm.
He picked up the boulders like we pick up dinner rolls.
He carved out each level, filling it with extra soil here and there as needed and using the bucket to tamp the soil down.
He nudged the rocks into place, controlling them an inch at a time. It was almost like he was using the shovel to flick them into their final spot.
It was fascinating to watch him dig a little here, fill a little there, pick up a rock, drop it and only have to make minor adjustments as he created the wall.
Just before it was time for me to leave, and for Mark to take lunch he invited me to step into the cab for a quick lesson on how to operate a backhoe. It was SO COOL! I practiced swinging the cab around, raising and lowering the boom, opening and closing ("Curling") the shovel and moving the "Crowd" (that makes the boom move towards or away from the cab). After a few minutes of practice he actually had me me dig out and dump two buckets of soil. My first attempt was a little rocky because I had the boom too high and it threw the balance off. The machine jumped and jerked a bit and I QUICKLY let go of all the controls. Mark laughed and said that was the perfect response. He talked me through the concept of letting the boom and the shovel be an extension of your arms and the second dig went much smoother. I'm still not ready to be a hoe operator, but after trying it out I have an even greater appreciation for his skill as an operator.
I've never uploaded a video before so let's see if this works.