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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring has finally sprung!

Spring is here.... finally! The grass is green and the leaves are just starting to pop on the trees!

God bless America!

Spring means the big rock-moving excavator can come back and build more walls.
Late last Fall the very talented excavator men built a beautiful retaining wall for the gravel terrace that will be off of the french doors in the barn room. To see that process click here.  Several commented that they thought the "mason" was doing a great job..... but the mason has been busy building the chimney- the person building the stone walls is the driver of the excavator!  To watch him maneuver the excavator is like watching a gentle giant- it is fascinating!   With that large claw on the excavator he moves huge stones with the utmost grace and ease .  The man is a "stone whisperer"!
There is still one more tier of that retaining wall yet to be built, but the mason has to finish stuccoing the chimney and remove all the scaffolding before that can be done. Until then the excavator men are proceeding with building the end stone wall (the wall that is perpendicular to the retaining wall) of the terrace.   I designed the wall to have a soft, gentle curve to it since everything on the back side of the farmhouse is very rectangular.

So, here is just a little of what we've been up to this past week! 

In this photo where you see the brown dirt under the scoop, that will be the graveled terrace-  to where the man in the blue shirt is standing which is where the retaining wall is. You can't make it out in the photo, but there is a 9 foot drop to his left. All the stones in the huge piles (and these are just some of the piles;) are from the property- stones and slabs that were removed when we renovated the barn and dug out the bottom floor to make the garage.

The excavator man drives around the property and hand picks each stone.  (In the lower left of the photo is the mason's helper mixing a batch of stucco.)

The chosen stone being brought to the wall.

The first stone of the curved wall being set.

Ella thinks that stone needs to go a little to the left!  She loves the excavator driver... he brings her puppy treats!

The chimney with its third and final coat of stucco.  The chimney will (should;) dry to a medium gray, just a bit lighter than the barn stain.  You can see the curved stone wall coming along nicely in this photo.  From the terrace level down to where the excavator is in this photo (the grass slope in the center) will have antique stone curbing (long steps) embedded in the grass that follow the line of the curved wall.

No, we're not building a castle as one neighbor asked;).....the 4 foot x 4.5 foot granite hand-cut chimney top requires that we hire a crane to set it!  That was supposed to have happened last Saturday,  but it didn't, so until then we look like Rapunzel is in the house!!!

To recap:  before


Where the top level of stone ends on the right of this photo (the cut out)  is where the third tier of the retaining wall will start and run into the corner of the barn.  This tier will be built tall enough to act as a small wall on this side of the terrace. 

The first two tiers of the retaining wall off of the barn with the adjoining curved stone wall.  The curved wall took them only two days to complete!

Oh, and here's another little project that was built this week!
The stone wall behind the tree only took them 4 hours to build!   The man's a stone-genius I tell ya!

The wall was added for visual interest as you come up the drive, and to level off the sloping grade and make it more user-friendly for landscaping (please ignore all the worker trucks!)

During Phase I on the renovation we buried our electrical lines from the street, so I'm trying to landscape out the big box, and the electric meter!  Note the little Christmas tree-shaped plant in the photo.... 

This dwarf Alberta spruce was a Christmas present from my mother about six years ago!  We knew we wanted to move to New England, so decided to keep it in a pot so we could bring it with us to New England!  It was only about 7" tall when we received it, and has sat out through three NE winters, so I think he is going to be one happy little tree to get out of that pot and into the ground!!

 "Cheerio" to Dan, who is in London today! xx


  1. It's really coming along and it looks beautiful!! You must be so happy with the results. Martina

  2. Rapunzel is in the house! What an incredible view she has.

    Amazing work but I see a lot of extra stones there. I might have to do a driveby.

  3. Wow and double wow. this is going to look so spectacular yet so cozy. I can't wait to see it when it's all finished. Amazing.

    ♥ sécia

  4. beautiful! I am from Dallas originally.

  5. What a talented person your stonemason is! And he works fast, too. Does he read your blog? If not, pass along my compliments to him

  6. I so enjoy seeing the process of how your incredible property is coming together. I can only imagine how exciting it must be to watch it all happen. You are doing such a wonderful job. I love your attention to even the smallest detail.

  7. It looks amazing! How big is your land?I do love a nice stone wall and you are right, the man is a genius. The colours on the house look so beautiful in the gray and white. So loving being part of your journey. PS: Your letterbox looks just right...

  8. This post was most interesting. My husband builds those kind of walls too. I think "stone whisperer" is a great name, and I will use it for him! He is very talented and it is so fun and incredible to watch a wall being built. Your walls look awesome!

  9. Wow wow wow! Do you two ever take on small projects? :)

    I'm sure you're anxious too but I can't wait to see it all complete! It looks magnificent!

  10. much older sister SusanMay 3, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    That one rock about three rows down the wall and to the left needs to be moved a teensy bit to the right.

  11. Marvelous! The "stone whisperer" indeed... art from stone. :)

  12. Joan, I'm so excited to see all of the progress you're making on that wall, and I'm sure that the pebble patio to come is going to be to-die-for!

    It's raining so much here, that I'm afraid we're going to have a flood. It's this all-day, all-night sort of ground drenching rain that is just asking for a basement problem.


    Talk soon! xo,

  13. Ahh.. LOVE all the rocks. We don't have many here...so are an arm and a leg...what gorgeous work...LOVE the bones of your beautiful yard!

  14. know ya'll are so excited to have this phase moving along I agree you have found a stone mason with a gift I expect he is a creative soul with lots of experience you are fortunate to have him
    love the progress

  15. Oh my, he IS a stone whisperer!!! That wall is amazinf and I loved seeing the progress and process!!! It is all going to be gorgeous! Thanks for sharing this! XO, Pinky

  16. Steve- all stones have a security tab....:)

    Martha- we are on a little over 4 acres, but with the way the house sits it feels more like 100!

    Sarah- Yes, we do do small projects! If you were to see my "to do" lists (yes there are several lists;) you would see about 50 small projects that we are working on or need to!!! Please don't tell Dan that all husbands don't have honey-do's with 50 items on them;)

  17. You must be thrilled...the stone wall looks amazing!!

  18. I adore stone walls and yours are works of art!! Thanks for sharing the building process.I'm going back to look at the photos again. :)

  19. The stone walls are amazing! It's so exciting "watching" everything come together. And, your much older sister Susan is a riot :)

  20. Wow, I love seeing this! Having moved several thousand pounds of stone with our patio I appreciate this! Your stone whisperer is a master that's for sure! I'm amazed you found someone so capable! We always have honey do lists here..the trick is getting them done in the season that works best! Spring is waking up here, but a tad slower than you! Your Alberta Spruce will love being in the ground and being able to spread it's roots! They are fairly slow growers though- so don't expect it to fill in too quickly! I'd be over there offering a helping hand if I could!

  21. The stone wall is amazing...it's going to look beautiful!


  22. oh my goodness, that is one serious machine (excavator) - it needed a stone whisperer for balance! amazing stuff...thank you for sharing! -xok.

  23. I would be so enchanted by the stone whisperer that nothing else would get done. Ella obviously has good taste! :)

  24. I can't help but notice your excavator is a Caterpillar. That machine was most likely made in Aurora, Illinois in the Cat plant where my son is a manufacturing engineer. He works in building K where they manufacture every tube on every machine for Cat worldwide. I love watching your house take on it's new shape and I'm proud a Cat machine is helping it do so!

  25. First and foremost, the images of the flag against the backdrop of your property are sensational.
    I love that you use natural elements to enhance your property. The stone work looks like it has been there for many years, great effect.

  26. It looks wonderful!

    The stone walls are really nice and they add such character to the house/garden. Lovely!

  27. Joan
    This is one amazing reno your house looks enormous. On this side of the world we are slowly sliding into winter.Our winter will not be as cold as yours we don't get snow on the Adelaide plains.
    kind regards

  28. Spring has started very early in Holland this year. April was extremely warm and sunny. And green ;-)
    Your house looks so beautiful between the old trees.

  29. Ohhh I am loving your blog, your newest follower! I love your home, we are owner building our own Queenslander..here in Australia. We are living in a shed while we do so.....what an experience lol

  30. Wow, agree with all of the previous comments on the wonderful stone and how it looks like it has been there forever.

    But I am really amazed at your beautiful grass with your construction and weather!


  31. Oh my, oh my, oh my! I have spent a good 2 hours looking at your beautiful blog and marvelling at all the hard work that has gone into your home renovations. Your home is divine and I can't believe your family isn't knocking your door down to come visit. You are lucky we aren't related, otherwise you would be asking me to stop visiting every other day!
    I will have to come back to the blog and look some more, as I should really have gone to bed long ago! Jacinta (from Australia)

  32. Hi Joan, Dan, and Ella: Again, nothing short of spectacular! You had me at the American flag! On 9/11, Mike took down the theme flag and hung the first of many American flags. I could not believe the size of the excavator! Wow! I love all the stone work and yes, 'stone whisperer' is the perfect name! Cindy

  33. I am in awe of your farmhouse rennovation, oh my you put new meaning to that phrase. Everything you have done is just stunning and I agree your attention to detail is amazing. I too love the way you have used elements from your property in such a natural way. Your stone walls are just gorgeous. You are so generous to share your project as it progresses and I love coming to see how things are moving along.


  34. What a totally amazing amount of work! I am so excited to be following along as your house undergoes this huge transformation.

  35. I love every moment of this post, from the springing of the little green leaves onto those big old trees (coming from a part of the world where that just doesn't happen) to the gentle laying down of those massive boulders. It's a fascinating journey.

  36. Joan, I have a question/problem I hope you can help me out with. We have a pea-gravel driveway, and it looks like yours is as well (or some sort of stone). What on EARTH do you do in the winter when you have to scrape or shovel the snow off? My sweet, hardworking husband and sons make a MESS of our yard whenever they try (granted, living in Richmond, VA, we don't have much occasion to practice, thankfully!) Any suggestions?

    And while I'm here (mostly a lurker, think I've only ever commented once before) - want to say once again how warm and charmed I feel reading your blog. You have a way with design and a way with photography and a way with words. Just love the home you are creating - thanks so very much for talking the time and effort to share it. Brightens my day and gives me great ideas and enthusiasm.


  37. I love you even more!! I knew you were a conservative.

  38. I love your blog and your wall. Strangely enough, I did a blog post on our rock wall (also using a trac hoe) on the same day. I think your tractor is bigger and your wall is better, but still what fun to find someone doing the same thing.

    Can't wait to see how you plant in on and around your walls!

  39. You are going to enjoy watching everything change and mature. It's going to be wonderful to have all these photos to look back on. Thanks for sharing...you are an inspiration...k

  40. Is it possible to fall in love with a brick wall?? Seriously - I love seeing the progression of your house and all the projects.

  41. Your walls are wonderful! Your excavator story made me smile, and brought back a funny memory..
    My son and his Dad drove a lot of heavy equipment. Dad used to tell everyone that son was so good with the claw that he could plant petunias! It still makes me laugh when I think of it.
    Have a good weekend and thanks for a laugh this morning!

  42. My excavator man (16 year old son) and I went rock hunting this morning. "Only good flat ones Collier!" I'm building a rock base for a feed bin on the back patio near my potting bench. It will be plumbed and used as a garden sink making garden clean up much easier.
    Your walls are absolutely beautiful, they add such aged grace to your property!
    I wanted to thank you so much for stopping by the other day. I just love your blog and so appreciate your kind comments!
    Have yourself a wonderful weekend and restful Mother's Day!
    Xo Lisa

  43. Fantastic update! I love your thorough photos of the house and construction. Also love that Ella is doing quality control management! : )

  44. You guys are doing an amazing job with that house...it looks fantastic!


  45. Your posts always make me homesick for New Hampshire! Especially the photos of the stone walls!

  46. Joanie I will try again. We are in Durango and the kids love your home as much as we do.


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