Ozark Top Soil

| 3/21/2019 12:02:00 PM

Phil NicholsWhen we first mentioned our plan to relocate from Nebraska to the Missouri Ozarks, back in 1982, I can still hear our neighbor Jay—who had lived in rural Missouri as a youth—telling me how he hated picking up rocks. Being a strong-willed, strong-backed thirty-something I laughed off his reservations.

That was 37 long arduous years ago.

It didn’t take long after I set up housekeeping on our new homestead (wife and daughter remained in Nebraska while the strong young man worked to pull things together) before I began to understand Jay’s aversion to native stone. Clearing space for a garden, digging water lines, putting in fence posts, and every other task involving the ground required a fight to the death with rocks. I soon became familiar with an Ozark homesteader’s tool-of-choice—the steel rock bar. And I began to amass piles and piles of sandstone, native to our slice of country; old-timers hereabouts refer to them as Ozark top soil.

In our travels through the Ozarks, as we searched for a suitable homestead, I always admired the rock homes and buildings we chanced upon. Being a carpenter/builder by trade I made a decision early on to designate the stones that I was unearthing, for some useful purpose.

Using stone from our garden plot, my first project was a slip-formed (clamp on movable form) chicken house. My second was a cold frame. Both saw many years of service. Then in 2006 work took my wife and me away from home. For ten years we managed a private community in the central Ozarks, only occasionally making it back home for a day or two at a time. During our absence the chicken house and cold frame deteriorated badly due to weather and lack of maintenance.

When we retired back to the farm in 2016, my first chore was to find our old overgrown garden plot; it had laid fallow well over the biblical seven years. I swear, after over twenty years of constant use you’d think that nary a rock could have survived, but our ground serves up an entirely new crop every Spring.

3/23/2019 11:54:11 AM

your cold fame is awesome use of some of your stones.

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