PHOTO: J. Keeler Johnson
October 17, 2017

Most hobby farmers eventually have to deal with rocks in their fields or yards. Whether it’s a bunch of small ones that complicate planting gardens or crops, or giant boulders that jut out of the ground and threaten to break any machine that inadvertently crosses their path, rocks of all shapes and sizes can be troublesome.

Of course, removing these rocks can also be troublesome, and if you want rock-free fields you need the appropriate rock-removing tools on hand. Keep in mind that some rocks might be too big to move with anything short of professional-level equipment. One such specimen is the giant rock on the edge of one of my fields—it’s about five feet across in every direction. That said, most rock-removal tasks can be achieved with less effort. Here are a few tools and implements that can help you get the job done.

1. Digging Bar

For removing individual boulders of medium size (or even fairly large ones), a digging bar is a great tool. Essentially a long steel bar with a tapered end, a digging bar is perfect for maneuvering underneath large rocks, where it can then be used as a lever to pop them out of the ground.

2. A Large, Flat Piece Of Wood

Once the rock is out of the ground, it can be very helpful to have a large, flat piece of wood. Such a piece of wood can be easily turned into a simple wagon, perfect for transporting the heavy debris to better locations.

3. Tractor Attachments

If you need to remove lots of smaller rocks, a variety of tractor attachments are available to help you get the job done. These include a box blade, which will help loosen the soil, level the ground and bring some rocks to the surface; a rock/landscape rake for gathering rocks into piles; or a rock screening bucket attachment for your front-end loader, which will allow you to screen rocks out of the soil.

4. Backhoe Attachment

If you’re looking to dig up huge boulders, then you might want to skip the digging bar and let your tractor do the work with a backhoe attachment. A powerful tool like this, although expensive, will help you excavate large stones that would be much too heavy to maneuver by hand.

And of course, if none of the above options quite suits your needs, you can always pick out small rocks by hand. Larger ones, meanwhile, can make interesting landscaping attractions and conversation pieces. Like, “Remember that time we hit the big boulder with the hay wagon?”

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