covered with boulders

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Winter is well over the half-way point and we’ve had no snow to show for it. After last winter’s record-breaking snowfall amounts this is a bit unsettling. We did have a lot of snow and power outages for that freak Halloween Nor’easter in October, but that was an autumn storm, not truly a winter storm… What strange weather.

2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Bulbs are coming up months too early. Witch hazel is blooming at Mystic Seaport. Tim & I went for a walk on Saturday at Haley Farm State Park, looking for photo opportunities. The birds were chirping away as if it was a sunny spring day! This time it was warm enough for my fingers to hold the camera and take 86 pictures. Perhaps I should have tried a landscape setting for a few of them. But I’m still getting used to holding it properly and finding the shutter button at the same time…

2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Caleb Haley of Haley Farm

Caleb Haley owned and farmed this land in Noank, Connecticut, and took on the daunting task of building stone walls between the pastures all over the property. The crumbling foundations of his house, stables and barns remain. In October of 1898, Walter Hill came from New York to visit his friend here and wrote an account of their time together. Excerpts following are from the Haley Farm Souvenir Book, found transcribed at the Groton History Online website.

2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

If there is any one thing in which my friend delights more than another, it is the works of improvement which he is carrying forward at Haley Farm, Long Point; so breakfast dispatched we, of course, drove at once to the locality of the improvement now going forward.
~ Walter Hill

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

It may be mentioned here, that the land in this vicinity and for miles in all directions is covered with boulders, boulders large and boulders small, sometimes ledges, but boulders in all shapes, boulders in all positions, boulders on boulders—everywhere. The first settlers simply removed or cleared the smaller rocks, such as a horse could easily drag out of the way, leaving hundreds of heavier ones half embedded in the soil in all directions.
~ Walter Hill

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

Thus thousands upon thousands of acres of splendid soil have been fit for naught but cattle runs of natural pasturage. To clear such land of everything to obstruct the free running of a plow, is a herculean task and it is this wrestling with the stern face of nature, that I found to be the delight of my host. A forenoon spent in watching and assisting in the operations, found me deeply interested. A device called a “Stone-puller” was quite fetching, and was the invention of a near-by resident whom I was disappointed to learn had never realized much out of it, for without it, such operations as are here going forward, would be prohibited by the question of cost. Mr. H— has 428 acres of just such land as described; skirting the shores of L. I. Sound with deep coves running up on either side of his property; forming between them, Long Point, which is all included in the Haley Farm, with the exception of a tract on the extreme point, which is owned by parties who started to boom it for Summer cottage purposes, but came to a dead-lock with the town authorities regarding approaches, and who should bear their cost.
~ Walter Hill

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

According to the the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection website:

In 1963 efforts to protect the farm from being sold to developers began. The State of Connecticut agreed to match funds raised for the purchase of the farm. The Groton Open Space Commission led a successful fund raising effort that led to the purchase of the property. Haley Farm became an official Connecticut State Park in July of 1970.

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

We found several burls on the outstretched branches of this tree:

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

I think this is a private boathouse across the water.  I thought it looked especially cheerful and welcoming!

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

So we had a good time poking around our local historic “ruins” and enjoying the scenic views of Palmer Cove. It was nice enjoying a spring day in February, but I’m starting to get a little nervous about what weather we have in store for us this summer. For now, though, perhaps I can manage to stay in the present… It is what it is and what will be will be!

Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Haley Farm State Park ~ 2.18.12 ~ Groton, Connecticut

18 thoughts on “covered with boulders”

  1. Fascinating tour as always, Barbara, though somewhat alarming to see your lack of snow. It looks as though we’ve swapped weathers this winter, an ominous sign of things to come. There’s a remarkable sense of time bound up in those boulders, and the labours of shifting them. Thanks for the sharing some your region’s rich history.

    1. Thank you, Julian. The lack of snow here is indeed ominous, especially on the heels of last winter’s heavy snowfalls. I keep seeing reports of the severe winter you are having in Europe on the news and do hope you are managing still without running water. With so many boulders it’s a wonder how farmers ever managed to grow anything here and their continued presence serves to illustrate why so many farm families left New England and headed west for greener, less rocky pastures.

  2. What a fantastic virtual tour! The bedraggled rock wall in the fourth picture looks very similar to the crumbling stone walls you see all over the Highlands of Scotland — it brought back wonderful memories — thank you!

    1. You’re very welcome, Laurie! It sounds like Scotland must be as rocky as Connecticut. I’m guessing the Haley name is of Irish origin, but possibly Caleb had Scottish ancestors… I often wonder what farming skills and notions immigrants brought with them from their homelands and what changes they may have had to make in order to adapt to farming here…

  3. Hi,
    What a fabulous and interesting place, the photos are fantastic. The history to some of these places are unreal, a very interesting read, I throughly enjoyed the post. 🙂

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed the post, Mags… Digging around for the history of different places is interesting and connects the present to the past… 🙂

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed your virtual visit to Haley Farm, AA! I have so many happy memories hiking around this scenic place, too… Wonder what it is about the boathouse that is so appealing? I kept walking back and forth looking for the best angle for a picture…

  4. Very interesting post. I love the ruins. As for taking photos, I am so uncoordinated. I’ll turn on the camera, make my adjustments, put my finger on the button, get the shot lined up perfectly, and turn off the camera by pressing the wrong button. Jane

    1. Jane, it’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one struggling to find the right buttons on a camera! Your recent snow shadow shots looked perfect, though. 🙂

  5. Beautiful pictures. The farm brought great memories of simple yet happy life in the countryside. Inspiring post as always. God bless you always…

    1. Thank you, Island Traveler! It must have been peaceful having a farm by the sea. In another part of his letter Walter Hill said he came from the city to visit his friend’s farm to recuperate from an illness. The setting was probably very healing…

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