Between a rock and…another rock

Rocks 02 sml

Look! A photo of large rocks! Very impressive.

Fitting squarely in the category of Important Life Lessons: if you buy a piece of mostly empty agricultural property that hasn’t exactly been used as a farm, there may be a reason why. In our case, that reason is rocks. Many, many rocks. So many rocks. Big rocks and little rocks and medium rocks. Some tiny pebbles. Some the size of a small car.

Rocks 01 sml

More rocks.

Quiet Farm sits on the southern slope of the Grand Mesa, the largest flat-top mountain in the world. The mesa’s highest point is just over eleven thousand feet, and we’re at 6,300. That five thousand feet between us is comprised of smaller pieces of the mesa: i.e., rocks. (They’re called the Rocky Mountains for a reason.) This is mostly Mancos shale, from the late Cretaceous age; at the rate we’re going, we’ll be in our late Cretaceous age by the time we relocate all of these rocks.

Rocks 03 sml

Have we made our point yet?

We have a lot of rocks. If you put a shovel in the ground here, you are guaranteed to hit a rock. It might be a tiny rock (easy!) or one bigger than you are (not so easy). We have rock walls along all of our property lines. We have rocks lining our driveway, and if you hit one with your car at dusk because you couldn’t see it you will shatter your car’s bumper and you will swear profusely and your husband will come running outside and think that some wild animals got into the recycling bins (merely hypothetical, of course). We have massive rocks out in the pasture pinpointed with bright-orange reflective snow markers because if you hit one with a tractor you will do a lot more damage than just a smashed bumper. We have rocks so large that a semi would have to move them.

Game Fence 02 sml

We have to cut a path through here to install our game fence.

The biggest project we’re tackling right now is the building of our game fence, to protect our crops from rampaging deer. In order to install this fence, we have to dig four-foot-deep holes for wooden fence posts. And in order to dig those holes, we have to move rocks. So many rocks.

Game Fence 03 sml

The only kind of bobcat we ever want to see on our property.

We rented a mini excavator from a farmer friend, and started moving rocks. We carved a path through this rock wall on our north line, we dug out raspberry and asparagus beds, we trenched our overflow for the irrigation headgate and we removed some particularly stubborn T-posts. Using an excavator is slow, painstaking work, but the majority of these rocks can’t be shifted by hand. It’s heavy machinery or nothing here.

Game Fence 05 sml

Now we can install fence posts!

We’ve returned the exacavator to its owner, and this week a skidsteer with a nine-inch auger will arrive. Assuming the weather holds, we’ll dig about twenty-four post holes – and we know we’ll probably hit rock more often than not. If we do hit rock, we can’t drill through it, so we’ll have to shift slightly. The end result might be that our fence will be ever-so-slightly wavy, but we have to work with what we have. And what we have are rocks.

Game Fence 04 sml

Some of the treasures we’ve uncovered while excavating. (Yes, we do actually have Prince Albert in a can.)

We hope to shortly share some photos of a successfully completed game fence. It’s going to be a big week – wish us luck, friends!

P.S. Doing some landscaping? We have very nice rocks available. We do not offer free shipping. You load and haul.


11 thoughts on “Between a rock and…another rock

  1. Idea: rent a rock crusher, sell road base. I was going to send some Cowboys’ Delight plants up with you, but I see in the second photo you have all you need. Guess it will just be perennials, ground covers, and veggies if you like. Good luck, you may need it!


    • Funny you should mention that, Jim. We’ve heard that crafty contractors here are removing the rocks and sending them over to the Front Range to be used in new developments. Urban legend, maybe, but I wouldn’t be surprised. If we had a crusher we’d for sure be selling these rocks!


  2. Just think … when you’re finished your farm might look like the west side of Ireland. All those beautiful squares of green surrounded by rock walls! At least you have machinery.


  3. I appreciate your humor throughout the project. Adam is wondering if you are digging the holes by hand or if you are getting the attachment for the skid steer? And his comment on using an excavator AND a skid steer… “awesome!” 😂


    • Hi Sara! Humor is the only way to survive farming. The fence post holes were dug with a nine-inch auger attachment on the skid steer. You tell Adam that if he ever wants to dig holes by hand, he’s welcome here any time. We’ll pay him a thousand dollars each for any hand-dug hole deeper than twelve inches, and very best of luck collecting that money.


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