Lee Otis Jones built the
stone wall around 1938. He picked up the rock off eighty acres of pasture
land creating the meadow to exist there now. Without the rocks to tear up
the hay bailing machine a more plentiful supply of rich prairie hay was
available for the cattle. Lee pried the rock loose with a pry bar and
carried it in a wheel barrow by foot to the place where he built a rock
The wall is one hundred
feet long. At one end of the wall stands a small rock house once used as a
separating room for cream. The small rock house was connected to the
This dairy barn was a
building with a cement floor with a runway down the middle of it allowing
it to be hosed down. This kept the building clean where the milk cows were
Lee rarely spoke of hating
any part of ranch work, but he really hated this part of the chores. One
can understand since they did milk as many as thirty cows by hand. Of
course, he didn't do this alone.
On occasion one of the
range cattle would have to be milked and that was an experience to tell
about, according to Lee.
This was probably, the
first feed lot in Oklahoma. There are remnants of a fence Lee built as a
runway from the pasture. This runway allowed them to drive the cattle into
the large corral in front of the hay and dairy barns on the south side of
the rock wall. The breaking of the wind and the warm sun on the wall
provided a warmth for the cattle most range animals never experienced.
In the corral they were
"full fed." Meaning they were kept in this small area. They did not lose
as much body weight from having to forage for food. Their calving in the
spring was also easier and fewer calves were lost.
By spring most of the herd
would be moved back to the pasture keeping only the cattle with calf in
the feed lot. This saved time and grief by not having to constantly
checking to see if the young heifers were faring well with their calf.
All these things lee
engineered. Where he learned is not known. Possibly Joe taught him. He was
also an avid reader and a thinker. It may have been some of the knowledge
was passed down to him from a grandfather. At any rate, the very small
ranching operation paid off well enough to keep the family.
Lee may have read about the
rock walls of their ancestor land, Scotland. Lee did not really know how
to build the wall as a dry wall. This today is said to be a dying art in
Europe where the walls are now being protected by law.
The reason for this is that
they are a great asset. They literally change the eco system of the area
around them. The rocks warm the ground in the winter holding the days heat
over the cold night. In summer they act in the opposite way by holding
the cool of the night and transferring it by day to keep the sun from
being so severely hot around the area. The breaking of the beating winds
allow the flora and provides habitat for fauna. The north side of the wall
is said to always support a very peaceful quiet verdant area and this is
true of Lee's wall.
From the perspective of a newt or toad, the jumbled bulwark that now
frames almost a quarter of my lot is home sweet home. Dark damp crevices
provide food, a moist environment, stable temperatures, and secure hiding
places from predators. Shrubs and trees play off its curves, providing
food and solace for songbirds and butterflies. Leaves fill up its harsh
abutments, softening the angles while nurturing small, crawling creatures.
Lichens and mosses colonize its sunny surfaces. In years to come, their
grey and green tones will further soften and enhance the wall. -