When I was in the fifth grade, I learned about the Europeans of the 16th century slogging their way across the Atlantic to settle in the New World. My New England pride made me question why anyone would have settled anywhere but here. The fact that biting winters and less than ideal farming conditions existed could not sway my sympathies.
Now I get it.
As part of the raised bed installation process I have roto-tilled the earth upon which the vegetables will be placed. The idea is to give the plantings as much loose, easy soil to burrow down into as possible. The first three raised beds went into the ground relatively smoothly. The fourth has been a struggle. I have encountered hundreds of pounds of debris below the surface of the earth. I say "debris," because it hasn't just been rock that I have lifted out of the ground. In these thirty-two square feet I have uncovered cement, concrete, and even rusted piping. It makes me think that at least a small part of the hill on which our house sits was filled in by men with machines.
The process for removing the debris is the same every time. If the rototiller hits a rock, it bucks. If the rototiller can, it will grab the rock in its tines and chuck it to the side. If the rototiller cannot discard the rock, it will continue to buck. That's when I will turn the rototiller off and set it to the side. I will then prod the soil with my shovel, feeling for the edge of the rock, then stomp the shovel's head as far down into the ground as my weight will compel it. After rocking back and forth I can usually pry the rock loose and remove it with my hands. But not always.
A couple of days ago I came across a rock that I just couldn't move. I dug and I poked and I prodded with the shovel for nearly twenty minutes until I'd finally cleared the soil from around the rocks edges. The rock (pictured left) was huge. I tried lifting it, rocking it, prying it, and smashing it with the side of my shovel, but the rock refused to budge.
The rock now lives in harmony beneath our fourth raised bed. Amen.