Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Go Big or Go Home

Wow, I know it's been a long time since I updated this blog but I think you'll understand why shortly.

Besides raising the World's Cutest Baby™(who unbelievably just turned five), I've been working on some stone work in our yard.

For years now one of my favorite places in my neighborhood has been Jill Nokes's fenceThe rest of the yard is lovely too but the fence mesmerizes me. It offers privacy yet connection to the neighborhood and is a wonderful repository of all that matters to her. (Or did matter to her. I hear she moved.)

When I decided it was time to replace the chain link fence around our little yard, Jenny of Rock Rose suggested I build a fence like Jill's. Of course, Jenny would suggest that as if it were no big deal. Look at the stone work she's done in her own garden. But alas, my husband is nothing like her David (no offense, honey!).

I laughed at Jenny's suggestion--the time, the money, the hard, hard work. Little did she know though that I secretly harbored that same desire.

I've been collecting rocks and trinkets from my travels for years. In fact, the only souvenirs I brought back from a trip to Germany and Switzerland were rocks (coincidentally, they were about all I could afford on a grad student budget). Maybe I could finally pull those out of shoeboxes and display them.

After weeks of hemming and hawing, something in me suddenly shifted. I screamed at the top of my lungs, "YOLO!" and went for it.

Four years later, I'm ready for the big reveal.

The first step was figuring out the materials I wanted to use. Sure, I could've sourced my rock from any number of quarries and stone yards around Central Texas but I wanted to really make this fence my own. So first I learned how to build clay bricks using the soil from my own yard (and let's be honest, a little from my neighbor who really wasn't doing much with it).

I also had to learn the technique of dry stack, building a wall without mortar.

I made a few mistakes along the way,

and had to restart, but eventually I got the hang of it.

And boy howdy, once I got started, I could not stop. I experimented with every type of rock I dug out of my yard.

I added drainage holes,

a few decorative items,


then moved on the really tricky stuff: doorways.

I even figured out an ingenious way to let neighbors come visit without having to build a gate:

Having run out of fence line, I added a few outbuildings. Here's a close up of the roof inside one:

And after a extensive review of Austin city code on animals, I discovered that now that I had the proper fencing, I could finally get the animal of my dreams--a llama.

The boy loves him. Pear, the dog, is not so fond, but we've got her back in dog training to help her with her fear of large spitting animals.

I still have a few small projects to complete on this project (like some more roofs),

but that hasn't stopped my from starting on the next big project: agricultural terraces.

Did you know that the center of these terraces is in a completely different gardening zone that the top terraces? Imagine the possibilities! Maybe even raspberries or, dare I dream, lilacs in Austin!

I'd love to have you Austinites over to see the work I've done. (Well, really anyone can come but I doubt many of you would want to make a special, once-in-a-lifetime trip just to see my yard.)

I'll be serving Pisco sours.


  1. When did we move to the mountains?

  2. April fool or not, I'd love to see your garden again.

    1. It's seems to finally be recovering from years of neglect so maybe I'll take some pictures soon.

  3. So happy to see you post again. And what a project it was! At least for some slaves. Lucky for David I did not come back from there with any ideas. Although I did mention wanting a large stepping stone for a pathway this morning.

    1. I am sure that at some point your travels will inspire a new project.

  4. You know, they have a YOLO! triathlon in Colorado in July. I think it's odd because it's like a normal I guess they're aiming for the folks who haven't done one before? But that actually is your kiddo in the picture with the llama, is it not?

    1. Yep, the actual kiddo. He loved the llamas. He named them Sticker and Next Time. I'm not sure which one this one is.

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