The excavator artist

For two years our clearing was this…

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Now it is THIS…

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Pictures can’t convey it really, how these rocks that were once jumbled heaps on our “rock farm” have been transformed like a 3,000 piece puzzle coming together.  To see the flow of the lines of these rock walls.  To hear the water trickle out of the stone wall, into a rock-lined stream bed, into a pond, and watch the wind ripple its surface.  To feel the coolness and strength in the root cellar foundation.

All thanks to this man’s excavator artistry.

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Bill Tourles of WRT Construction, a man we connected to through a  friend of a friend.  A connection I’ve thanked our lucky stars for over and over the past couple of weeks.  Because Bill understands our outside-the-norm vision.  He took our base wishes and our wildest dreams, wove them together and riffed on them, creating something far greater than we even knew to ask for.  And paused along the way to patiently explain things we thought we’d gotten our heads around (like laying out drains and conduit), not always knowing nuances that are easier to understand when one has worked on a thousand such projects.  And pausing again to help us figure out solutions to unexpected issues, like water oozing up under where our very wooden yurt will sit.  All while understanding our very set budget, and communicating along the way what our evolving options were within that allotment.

Both Bill and his sidekick, Kim, showed up each day with such enthusiasm for what we were all working toward here, driving up in his gigantic dump truck with classical music blaring to get his artistic side flowing.

Starting with the stumps, that we all soon discovered were way more work than initially planned because there were a LOT of stumps (that all needed to be taken out by dump truck load after load), and the stump moving brought up a LOT more rocks.

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So not all of the stumps are gone at the bottom of the clearing because we chose to halt that and focus more of their time elsewhere.  Like the first stone wall.

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Ending with a mulch basin to the right and a root cellar foundation tucked on the backside (these root cellar pictures are mid-way through – he’s finishing this and the mulch basin ring today while working on the nearby wooden yurt site).

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Below is the right side of the root cellar with stone wall leading up the hill to where the yurt will sit.

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And then a second stone wall starting in front of the first, with an access ramp in between.

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And then to the part that I thought was a someday project… The pond.  Because after all of the above stone work was accounted for, we STILL had giant piles of stones.  Bill came up with a multi-faceted solution that would make use of those rocks, solve the problem of our well run off  that was making a swamp in the lower part of the clearing, and bring my someday pond to today.

This was the pipe that ran down the hill after we had the well drilled, because we had an unexpected artesian well where water bubbled over the top of the well casing otherwise.

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It’s a bizarre setup for a household that works to keep water use to a minimum, to have this hose running water all day and all night long.  The children have loved playing in this runoff.  But with cattails starting to grow in our “yard,”  clearly we needed a better solution.  And now the solution has been created in an effort to find the too-many-rocks solution.

First was digging the giant hole into our not-so-garden-friendly but very pond-friendly clay hill.

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Rock repository.

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Rock stream bed from stone wall to direct water run off.

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Water still rising, sediment still settling, but wildlife already finding way in.

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Today is Bill and Kim’s last day, and we’ll truly miss having them here.  Discussing Bill’s latest 5am inspirational moment for our project.  Caden and Aria leaving their latest handmade creation for them to find in the truck.  Making cookies for them.  Aria reaching for Kim’s hand to walk around with.  Them bringing our children a found fallen nest.  Finding hidden treasures they created, like a natural bowl in the rock wall for a bird bath.  The work a fascinating and magical display for us all to watch unfold.

After today it will be us, here with this incredible canvas to work with that I admit feeling slight pressure to do justice.  Because despite the artistry of what he has helped create, Bill still insists the rocks are a backdrop for the real purpose: the gardens.  And all of it as a place to tuck a tapered wooden yurt home into.

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It took a handful of days for them to make this canvas, years ahead for us to work within it and to keep thanking those lucky stars that our paths crossed theirs.

9 thoughts on “The excavator artist

  1. Way cool! He did in a few days and an excavator, what dad took years to do with a wheel barrow, ax, and shovel.

  2. On another note, check out Josh and Mel’s back yard. I find it immensely impressive! Gary

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  3. I love following your story and all the progress. It makes my heart happy to see what you are creating. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  4. Boz always shares these with me and I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading and seeing all the progress. It is such an amazing adventure and I have realized with a lot of hard work and patience that dreams can become reality. I cannot wait to take another trip out to see you, Josh, Caden and Aria…let’s hope this summer. Stay well!

  5. It is so good to see that the projects that you are undertaking are still being pulled off. Hanneke and I tried similar things in the early 80’s in the northern wilderness of Millbridge and Cherryfield. We eventually retreated to southern NH to continue our communal living situations in yurts and octagons helped by woodmizers and such conveniences. I guess the spirit of the more alternative choices in life never dies. We wish you not too many set backs, there always are a few, and a successfull construction of your new yurt. We will certainly visit you when the time is ripe. Gary and Pilar keep us posted.
    Great postings Hans and Hanneke van Riel.

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