Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

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A Few Big Rocks

7/24/2013 2:34:00 PM

Tags: hand tools, simplicity, Bethann Weick, New Hampshire

rock stoopYou may recall my previously mentioning, as a small aside, the stump that served as our doorstep. It was functional, most of the time, and quaint in its simplicity. The stump, however, was far from suggesting permanence and solidity. It was only meant as a placeholder, anyhow.

Years before, in creating the first garden space and erecting a homemade compost bin, Ryan had uncovered the front step to the 1800s-era Jessaman homestead. Located by the eastern side of the old cellar hole, above the deep, rich ground that has become our growing garden, is The Rock. Large, flat, and square, it suggests ‘Welcome’ without a word. From that first discovery, Ryan had earmarked this remarkable piece of granite to become the front stoop to our cabin.

The process started late this spring. Nearing the end of a weekend work day which had us clearing brush and pulling weeds, Ryan began moving two sizeable rocks located a few steps from the cabin. Rectangular and solid, they made an ideal step. Ryan, with a decade of trail building experience, had the rocks quarried, moved, and set before I could offer a hand.

With those in place, the stump had been swapped out. But the dirt at the base of these rocks liked to collect water when it rained, and was dusty in the sun. We both knew what belonged in that space.

As spring turned to summer, we became the proud owners of a single taper rock bar – our small, old, rusty relic of a bar had been found in the ground by chance, and while useful to roll logs or move small rocks, a stone such as the one before us needed a full-size, proper tool to budge it. So just a couple weeks ago we were ready to go. With much sweating and straining, Ryan and I pried the rock from its hole: it was even larger than we expected!  Using logs, we skidded it uphill, around the rhubarb, then down by the apple tree, alongside the sunflowers, and past the potatoes. Inch by inch, we neared the cabin. The arrival of two friends speeded us to the finish line.

Our long-awaited frontispiece had arrived.

The presence of granite suggests something sturdy and unyielding, its ancient geologic history leaving a legacy of durability. The more recent human history of this particular rock gives added weight to its presence at our entrance. As we work with the rocks, dirt, plants, and trees here on the property, we are constantly reminded that the present – and the future that we often imagine – are closely woven to the history whose shadow remains on the landscape around us.

Is this connection relevant?  To be on the land is to have roots. To have a context in which to situate our selves, our work, and our place creates a story and frees our egos from taking center stage. Here we are engaged, humbly, within a world we are fleetingly a part of. Some tell us that to have land is to have responsibility – a responsibility they don’t want. Perhaps. But from such responsibility, Life extends. In the cabin, atop our new front stoop, and on the property: we Belong. When joyful, here we celebrate. When tired, here we are refreshed. Inspiration surrounds us. Our Home – our land – is our refuge, our recharge, our reminder of who we are; Home is our food, our shelter, our resources; Home is our canvas, our contentment, both our solitude and our community. Home, for anyone, could be anywhere: find it and relish it, without fear or hesitancy!  Home, for us, is here.

For ecological garden design and maintenance, or weeds pulled from your garden or landscaped housefront, please contact Beth via

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