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Jones Place on the Osage Highlands
Page 12

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 wall.

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 dairy barn.

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 milked.

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.

A quote:
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.  - Craig Tufts

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