Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Such treasures ...

If I remember correctly, I mentioned the back bits of our property somewhere else on my blog. The north property line runs partway up a cliff. It’s not really a cliff in the sense of a precipitous drop off. It’s a high ridge with a sixty degree or greater incline, but I think of it as a cliff. At the base is a stretch of scrub trees and bushes and wild flower and weeds and sticky things …. And tons of junk.

When this property came to us we spent days and days hauling off accumulated junk, mostly scrap metal of various sorts and old tires. We still find things that work their way out of the ground, but the pasturage is clear and green. Back in the trees is a different story. From about maybe umm 1890 to 1940 or so people dumped things off that cliff. There’s a mass of “stuff” hidden back there. An old road went through there too. You can see it still, though small trees grow in the road bed.

We started clearing the junk out early this morning. While there is no way we’ll finish that project this year, we’ll work on it for the next four weeks. Knobby Knees arranged for the metal salvage place to bring out a huge metal container. When I saw it, I was convinced it was too large, but we went a long way toward filling it today.

I got off work at four a.m. That’s such a lovely time of day here; quiet and peaceful; red sky in the east, birds just awakening, egrets fishing in the little stream; blue huron stretching their wings and thinking about fish. By five I was out at the gate waiting for Knobby Knees and his recruits and our girls. K.K. talked one of his work buddies into helping with a backhoe we borrowed from our neighbor. He had to promise him a steak and eggs breakfast. Guess who got stuck with the cooking. …

Great Blue Huron on the Columbia River

Anyway … breakfast was eaten, more coffee than any two sane men should drink was drunk and we booted and gloved up and went scavenging in the wilds. Such stuff we found. …

The backhoe tugged two half-buried car bodies out of the slope. Have you ever heard two engineers wax eloquent over rusted junk? … Not married to one then, are you? Now understand that these things are squished, caved in at the roof and no earthly good to anyone. K. Knees and friend get body # 1 out of the hillside with a little effort. Then, as men of that training are wont to do, they stood around and discussed the merits of 1938 Dodges. I wasn’t aware that a squished-nearly-flat Dodge of any year had merits, but I am apparently misinformed.

Eventually it and car body #2 end up in the huge container, though not without sighs of regret from Engineer 1 and 2 and wistful ideas about auto restoration. … An old metal springs from a mattress followed, as did endless odds and ends of things.

The girls carried canvas sacks full of bent, rusty nails and bolts that came out of a wooden barrel rolled over the cliff back who knows when. The hoops were still there, though almost none of the wood was left. Daughter number 2 went looking for agates. We always find some out there. Daughter five wanted to run the backhoe. … dream on, child, dream on.

I did my share, more or less. I mean, I did cook, right? My uncle has a metal detector, once top of the line, now old and low tech. I borrowed it. My contribution was an endless stream of small bits of junk. In the process I found a 1905 Indian Head Cent. It’s turned red and crusty from the soil. I found a pile of sea-green beer bottles marked AB in connected letters. I’ll give those to a friend who sells at a flea market. I saved a nice one for me. Dau. # 3 found a 1925 dime. It’s black from the soil and we can barely see the date.

An old fence line is back there too. Most of the original barbed wire is gone, though rusted piles of it sit next to some of the old fence posts. There are maybe four kinds of wire. I understand people collect it, but this is so rusty it’s not worth anyone’s attention except that of the metal salvage place. … If you’re a barbed wire aficionado, you might like to know that some of it was two strand, some three strand, and there were two kinds of wire poke the cow things … they must have a name, I just don’t know it … some with two barbs and some with four. It all went into the container.

We yanked about a third of the old fence posts too. Those will go into the fire place. They’re too old to be treated wood, so they’re safe to burn. It’s not the best fire wood, but it’s free.

I left everyone out there at about 8:45 with food in the frig, snacks on the table and dirt on their faces.

Oh … My bit of metal find thing I found and don’t really know what it is thing … I found an iron spike bent to “u” shape. It’s very long, probably a foot and a half if straight. K. Knees and his friend both say it’s hand forged. Being engineers they had to analyze it in detail. We (they) talked about how the head was formed and why, the flattening to one side, the marks on the flat side, and other such things. And ... here ... all I wanted to know was, “Is it old? What was it used for?”

The answers were, “yes” and “we don’t have a clue.”

I put it in my box of odd things found. I keep it in the barn. A hay loft hook, a trigger guard from some sort of pistol, bunches of square nails and some old spoons have all found a place in the box. Don’t ask me why I keep this stuff. I don’t know for sure.

Two nice things from a monetary view point were a pile of old lead pipes. We’ll get about eighty cents a pound for the lead. I don’t know how many pounds of pipe we recovered. They were still digging it out when I left. We also turned up a spool of copper wire. This is worth more. It’s not a large spool but heavy. It’s all wrapped up in cloth insulation like you sometimes see on antique lamps, but it’s heaver gage wire than lamp wire. This is good. Anything that makes money is good. The lead and copper sells by the pound. The scrap iron by the ton. They’ll weigh the container when we’re done. Because it’s mixed, we get paid at a lower rate than if it were some sort of specific content. I don’t really care to understand all of that … mostly because K.K. does and saves my mind from being fried by the details.


  1. Knobby Knees had chinese takeout on Father's Day so it is only proper that you provided him with a good meal today.

    You all had a busy morning. I'm glad you are finding such interesting little treasures. I am curious too about the U-shaped spike.

  2. I felt almost like I was there as I read about it. I love the bird picture too.

  3. Treasure hunt! Fun, though hard work.
    I keep stuff like that too.