Ditched


Tires in Ditch

People leave us presents. Rather than tossing them in the ditch so far from our home it would be nice if they were to instead neatly stack the tires at the end of our driveway. This would save me lugging them out of the woods. I count 17 from this winter. The tires are quite useful for holding down tarps on top of the sand pile, building retaining walls, raised bed planters and such. I would put up signs to this effect but someone wise told me that people who throw tires in ditches can’t read so it would be a futile effort. The bags off garbage and cigarette tray clean-outs are less useful.


Ice Rings

In my ditch picking I also ran across this pretty ice sculpture. We’re about at the end of the artistic ice for the year. The concentric rings were made by successive freezings each night as the puddle drains away. Along the streams the ice splashes up on roots making them look like old style dipped tallow candles.


Who Lived Here

This cut granite foundation stone is out in the woods far from anything modern. It was revealed when we logged this section of woods back to pasture. It weighs several hundred pounds – not the sort of thing someone throws away in a random spot while driving. Realize that stone was cut with old fashion hand implements, not my modern high powered stone cutting tools. I know how hard it is to work stone so seeing this rock that was cut over two centuries ago gives me a sense of place. We have it easy.

That stone was part of the foundation of a house and barn that probably burned down a century or more ago. Such is the fate of many wooden buildings. Lightning on strike, kicking cows and woodstoves take their toll. Poking around I found the outline of the buildings. Someone’s homes and dreams lived and died there. All that is left of the home site are the rock work for the foundation, ramp and stone walls. The forest sprang up right through where the bedrooms, kitchen and barn where. Some of the tree trunks were 3′ in diameter when we cut them last summer.

We are not the only ones that have cleared this land. What was forest a thousand years ago was cleared periodically by beavers and fires. Nature is not the only one to take an active hand at managing the landscape. Our native ancestors long used fire to open areas. Then the European settlers cleared it for sheep and cattle about 230 years ago. I have found house foundations high up on the hills as well as smaller shed outlines and stone walls that delineated between the properties back in the 1700’s.

I was told by Lloyd, who was born here a century ago, that in the 1800’s and early 1900’s all of this land was cleared of trees. Perhaps there were just the line trees along the walls that acted to eventually reseed the fields. In the 1800’s the village in our valley was abandoned, perhaps due to the mini-ice age of that era. In time the houses fell to nature. Ours is the last house standing. Even that farm was abandoned in the 1900’s when Lloyd left. He returned to find the house he had been born in burnt to the ground and a large tree growing in the middle.

Our road petered out in disuse during the middle of the 1900’s eventually no longer being a throughway. The marshy area where the stream passes at the top of the beaver ponds won out. Without upkeep roads vanish in the forests. In the 1980’s the town upgraded the road to a Class III so it was once more passible winter and summer by school bus.

By the time we arrived in the late 1980’s the forest had grown back and the last little patches of fields were vanishing around our old farm house. We’ve reversed that trend around our homestead, gradually recovering the fields that hadn’t closed yet, then clearing a little more back to one set of stone walls twelve years ago. Again we cleared back to stone walls last year. We are opening up the forest that was once fields that was forest before. Once again there are pastures to the top of the ridge. Around and around the cycle goes. Change is constant.

Outdoors: 60째F/29째F Mostly Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 68째F/63째F

No matter how iLooked iDid not find and iPad in my iDitches. Oh, well. :)

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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9 Responses to Ditched

  1. heyercapital says:

    Walter,

    Thanks for sharing your sense of history and place up there.

  2. tree ocean says:

    Makes you wonder how they lived back then, sledging those rocks to make those boundaries. We have endless miles of rock walls up here, too.

    Isn't it funny those tires look like they have plenty of miles left on them to me. I never seem to see bald tires on a back road.

  3. Teresa says:

    Truly shows the the world is cyclical in nature. In my midwest town, I can't imagine the sense of history you experience. The native peoples left the occasional arrowhead, but that is about all you find around here. The first home on my land is the one I live in, built around 1900.

  4. Nance says:

    The cycle. It fascinates me. We bought Missouri land that was pasture 50 years ago. Now it has grown up to Cedar Trees and hard woods with just a small clearing left. 50 years ago the hills and vales were pasture and before that, prairie, as I still find small stands of the tall, red prairie grass. Cycles. If I quit mowing and pulling tiny cedar trees, this last hold-out, this last clearing will grow up to Cedars and scrub as there are no cattle or bison herds, nor farmers now, to mow this land.

  5. I also am awed by the sense of history in some places. Often, on my farm, I wonder who was there 200 years ago. What were they doing, how did they live. If my garden fails, I am punished by a winter of store bought veggies. If their garden failed, they were punished by watching their children starve to death. I'd rather live now, even tho I complain horribly about the nastiness of the commercial food chain.
    I feel the same about old tables & sewing machines. What family meals were held at that table. How many sets of curtains & wedding dresses were sewn on that old machine. What christening gowns were made, in anticipation of an impending birth. Whose lives did those items touch? And, who lived on that stone foundation?

  6. Jerry says:

    Apparently the people around here do a LOT of drinking and driving because bottles and cans are what is most thrown out along our road.

  7. Aye, Jerry, it is amazing. If the deposit on those bottles was a buck each it would make a difference. Not to the drinking drivers, they would still throw, but our kids would make a lot more spending money collecting all those bottles each spring and fall.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Do you have trash collection on Sugar Mountain? If someone leaves you trash, do you have it hauled away, do you burn it, or do you do something else with it?

  9. Marie says:

    I seriously _hate_ ditch dumpers. I help with a stream restoration group, and we haul trash out of the stream when it happens. Last year, we had a washer and dryer dumped off, then used for target practice. My work partner had to get 20 stitches in his forearm after we attempted to haul that out of the stream.

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