Grace and I standing in the exact same spot then (2005) and now (2011) after a lot of hard renovation (all of us) and growing up (her) and getting older (me).
Started digging this afternoon near the back of the yard, on the far side of the old barn foundation and might have hit the mother load. I had to stop digging to run some errands, but I have a hunch there is much more than what I’ve uncovered so far. The clear bottle may be my all time favorite find. It is MOXIE NERVE FOOD. Is there a better drink name anywhere? Here’s what our good friend Wikipedia has to say about it: Moxie originated as a patent medicine called “Moxie Nerve Food,” which was created around 1876 by Dr. Augustin Thompson of Union, Maine. Thompson claimed that it contained an extract from a rare, unnamed South American plant, which had supposedly been discovered by a friend of his, Lieutenant Moxie, who had used it as a panacea. Moxie, he claimed, was especially effective against “paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness, and insomnia.” What I love most is that it helped “softening of the brain.” That sounds like something Monty Burns might suffer from. That or Bonitis. The squat brown bottle once held Paul Jones Whiskey. Paul Jones was one of the “big” names in American whiskey, apparently. The green bottle has no identifiers. But I’ve included a picture of it’s bottom–quite concave. I have no idea what this means in terms of how it was made. I hope that tomorrow brings good weather, for I plan to move a lot of dirt and rocks in search of more treasure left by the folks that lived here between one and two hundred years ago.
And in case you are just joining this treasure hunting conversation, I use the word “treasure” rather liberally. This stuff isn’t worth any actual money, but I find the process vastly entertaining. Plus, this is all stuff that belongs here.
click on the photos for nice big pictures…
When I treasure hunt in my back yard, I’m like Indiana Jones–every shovel unearths new and amazing treasure. Today was not one of those days. Today was more like Al Capone’s vault. A lot of effort for a big ball of nothing. Well, not quite nothing. I found some old nails. And some bent metal things. Some days, you’re Harrison Ford. Some days you’re Geraldo Rivera.
Vote Quimby. Sent from my iPhone
…and you might just find some bones. Gail and I were walking around the yard this evening looking at our gardens. Up near the raspberry and blackberry bushes, I leaned down to pull up what appeared to be an old root just pushing through the surface. What I discovered was a jaw bone with teeth still embedded. Underneath the jaw were more teeth. People have always told us that this used to be a horse farm. Supposedly, there was a horse track on what is now Pease Airfield. This would have been years before it was the Air Force Base. We don’t have any real proof of exactly what sort of farm this was, so a lot of what we know is really just speculation. But we do know the original house was built early 1800’s (maybe late 1700’s–all of the wood is hand cut) and that there have been at least two different barns on the property. The big barn was probably gone before 1900. It was out past the big barn that we found the bones. I love finding bones. There’s more of the animal back there, but it was getting dark and I wanted to take my time digging it up. Part of the fun is putting the puzzle together. Turns out, it seems that this jaw bone and these teeth more than likely belonged to a cow, not a horse. A little investigatin’ on the internets helped us with our deducin’. Did I just stumble on the graveyard? Is this where one farmer threw the dead animals? The carcasses of the animals he slaughtered? Could be rabbit, could be. Below, pictures to shock and amaze:
Nails. A huge pile. This photos does not do the pile justice. So many nails.
And this thing. What is it? No one knows. Total mystery. And as I was walking across the yard (a yard that has claimed three lawn mower blades since I started mowing it) I looked down and saw this dangerous piece of metal. It wasn’t there the day before. The stuff is rising from below.
Having found a ton of stuff in about ten minutes, I thought I’d go inside. Walking back across the yard, I said to myself, I’ll just dig here, see what I find. The bottle on the right hand side, long broken, long ago thrown beneath the old barn, or thrown into the pit where the barn used to be, still had it’s hinged lid. In the second picture, notice how thick the glass is.
Here’s where I dug. It’s in the middle of the yard. All of these treasures where just an inch or two below the surface, maybe a bit more. Makes me want to dig the whole thing up and sift the dirt. Soon, I’ll build a case for the junk. My own private museum. On the right, you’ll see my digging tool. I call him Ol’ Yaller.
And then finally, as I was heading back up the slight rise to the house, I looked down and saw what I thought was a root. I’ll just put that up, I said to myself. It turns out it was an old table or chair leg that had been tossed out here at some point. All of these things were found and revealed in about a twenty minute window. Imagine what I might find with a few days and some sort of light backhoe. And a metal detector. If you have a metal detector, call me. There’s treasure everywhere.
I’ve been digging for treasure around the foundations of the old barn. The barn is long gone. Here are two shots of the fieldstone foundation. In some places, you can see the stones have collapsed. Today, I started rebuilding the wall. I doubt I can get it back to its original shape, but a little here, a little there can give us a sense of its history. These aren’t small stones. Many would have required teams of horses to move. In some places, I’ll have a lot of dirt to remove to reveal buried stones. Such fun. My own private archaeological dig.
What went on during the years our property was an active farm?
People tell us it was a horse farm.
I present as evidence:
a possible knee joint from a large animal
a heavy bolt
an angle iron
a strangely shaped, heavy piece of iron
a rusted horse toy
an inscrutable looking tool
and a small, very rusted awl perhaps used in leatherwork.
Only the shadow knows…
(click on the photos to see them full size)