Saturday, July 16, 2016

precious stones

Here in the mountains, stone is a part of life. Just try to plow a field or garden or even dig a hole for your mailbox, you will hit rock. Evidence of old garden patches and fields can be found when walking through the woods, identified by the stone walls or piles surrounding them, stones culled out by the horse-drawn plow and stacked up along the edges.

In southern Louisiana there is no natural stone. So how do you build anything? How do you make a driveway? How do you cover a truck stop parking lot before paving? Who do you call?

Buddy was elated this week when they were finally ready for the stone after months of fighting with the 'crappy' soil there, soil that had to be removed from site down to 3 feet deep and replaced with somewhat better soil which then had to be mixed with different minerals just to make it stop crawling and be more compactible to meet specifications.

Anyway, back to the stone…

Buddy: The stone is finally here, tractor trailer loads of it coming in, it looks great!

Me: Where do they have to haul it from?

Buddy: It comes from Baton Rouge.

Me: That's pretty far to haul gravel, over an hour.

Buddy: Oh that is just where they get it off barges from the Mississippi River, it is all shipped in, there are no quarries here.

Me: What? Gravel coming in on barges? From where? Isn't it too heavy?

Buddy: That was the cheapest option, the other one was to get stone that came from the Gulf up the Atchafalaya River, but it would have to come through the lock system and that made it cost more.

Me: So how much does it cost, say compared to around here?

Buddy: At home we can call and get a load of gravel for around $15 a ton, here we are paying $35/ton.

This is of course in contrast to the last job he built in Oklahoma, where they hit rock every day and even the Love's rep would come by with his trailer to get giant landscape stones.

Dirt and stone, things we take for granted here, hard packed red clay and rocks are the things to contend with when digging here in Georgia, making a good firm foundation.

Here if your dirt driveway needs gravel you just call and a dump truck of crushed stone comes from one of the local quarries. Years ago all the driveways around here were covered with a pretty white gravel from Whitestone, GA (which is getting into the local marble vein). Now most of the gravel is quarried up at Cherry Log, and is gray granite.

But it comes right out of the earth here locally, just bust up one of the mountains and it makes great gravel, our own natural resource, precious stones.

So the next time you are trying to dig, be thankful for the dirt and rocks, it could be worse, you could be in southern LA where the soil is only good for growing rice and crawfish.

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