Stone walls have always held a certain fascination.  Even if it’s easy to see over them to the other side, there’s always the slightest promise that somewhere inside that border exists a Secret Garden, a Tarabithia, a Hogwarts, a Brigadoon, a magic princess or even a hobbit or two.

You’ll see stone walls running roadside on virtually any country drive through upstate New York.  Often looking like little more than linear piles of stone, these “walls” were often erected by tossing stones along the property borders as new fields were plowed.

The perimeter of the hay fields at Beekman Farm were demarcated in this way over 200 years ago.

When we installed the heirloom vegetable garden we knew that we wanted to make our own permanent contribution to the landscape of the farm,  so we asked our friend and neighbor, artist Michael Whaling, to help us in the construction of a rock wall.

Over the past year, Michael has used local stones and traditional construction and hand-tools to create a dry-stack rock wall to encase the garden.

Michael's trademark design involves placing large round stones into the wall and building around them. It's very intricate and time-consuming
Huge flat stones were used to flank the two entry points into the garden

But the wall had to be more than beautiful.  It had to be functional, too.  And like all great works of art, there had to be something unexpected.

 Bird baths built into each leg of the wall.


 There are two benches hidden in the interior of the wall so that we can have a rest if the chores becomes too strenuous or even if we decide to sit and watch the seasons languish on the garden.  The benches were created using rocks that had been naturally shaped over hundreds of years in the bed of a local river.

No matter where in life you take up residence,  whether it be for a day, a month, or many years, you will always leave a bit of yourself behind.  The choice is yours whether it is something negative or something positive, but rest-assured that at some point in the future, someone will find that remnant of you.

A fossil found in one of the stones and the artist’s insignia on the cornerstone

Having watched the wall slowly emerge from a pile of rock over the last year, it reminded us that “built to last” is not an easy accomplishment.  Rome was not built in a day, and neither was the great wall of Beekman.

Michael has created a book about his experience building the wall at Beekman Farm.  You can purchase the book in our online store by clicking here

by Dr. Brent

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Matthew

You and Josh should come have a look at the stone wall that Douglas and I made this summer in 6 months, just the 2 of use and a wheel barrow. We collected all the stone from our own land, creeks and old wall, and carried it and stacked it.

No help, no training, no tools, just our 2 sets of hands. It is 160 feet long, 6 feet high and 4 feet wide. We also made 14 raised hemlock beds, and the center of the garden is one of our hives.

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Robert Finn-Clarke

When our family bought a summer place near Cooperstown 11 years ago , I started a series of rock projects. I mean what else can one do with tons of rock and lots of time? Your walls with beautiful built in benches are inspiring. Thanks for the wonderful words and photos.

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Carol Lewandowski

Brent and Josh,

I can't wait to take a tour of your farm this weekend. I love stone walls and have built a few around my property in the Village of New Hartford. I don't have the land that you do, as I live in the village, but I have planted the most unusual trees on my little piece of heaven. Went flower shopping all over last weekend and am looking forward to creating some unusual planters. I am so fortunate to have Sharon Springs practically in my back yard. I enjoy the village so much. Everyone is so friendly. Have enjoyed your shop and the American Hotel. Read all three of Joshua's books and enjoyed them thoroughly. I taped all of last years Beekman episodes and then had to make room for this year's, so I purchased the DVD of the first season. The Fall Fest was great and the Victorian Christmas was the best. Did a lot of shopping that day. Thank you so much for the wonderful memories. I am anticipating a few trips to Sharon Springs this summer. Just love both of you, Farmer John, Doug and Garth and Polka Spot. Sharon Springs is blessed to have you as part of their village and you are fortunate to have Sharon Springs in your life. God bless you both.

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Doris

Love, love, love that garden rock wall! Hope to see it in person on a tour of The Beekman some day. Keep on keepin' on guys!

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KJ

My dad bought a piece of property in his home town when he was 18 – property that was unwanted, undeveloped and overgrown. He had a station wagon with 'farm markers' on it (limited driving radius licence), and used it to clear brush & haul stones onto his property to fulfill his vision: build stone walls on the property and & also create an adjacent waterfall.

He later (40-45+ years later!) sold it to a developer who preserved the stone walls/waterfall, and used it as a center point for the condominium complex that now surrounds them.

We've returned to visit (we live several states away now), and it always makes me smile to see Dad's stone wall and waterfall (now about 70 years old), still in place, now enjoyed by many.

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Dana

you have such a way with words, that is the prettiest wall i have ever seen…. and the functionality of it is even more special…… i live in northern California now. and before my disability took over i would drive often to the bay area and work at other jobs and come home on the weekends and the drive would take me through the Napa valley….. and rock walls were the norm and so all the new winery's were either restoring and or installing them…..and its just remarkable every time i see one… no mortar just one nitch hooked on to another…..and the results just take your breath away……. and your bird bathes and benches are just lovely…… again i can't thank you enough for taking the time in your lives to share with the rest of the world…. i hope someday i will gfet to watch you show again they have taken the plant-green off our dish network and i miss you all and poka~spot to. enough for now. i wish you sucess and for you and josh to be together soon……

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Patricia Swanson

Someday I will get to NY State to see your area. I am very impressed with the new wall. Rock walls are such works of art. Enjoy yours to the utmost. xxoo

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Jenn D

There is something a little magical about our little neck of the woods. There is a reason people like JF Cooper, General Herkimer and the like settled here and build the history that they did. I certainly can't imagine living in any other place.

I am so glad that you have decided to settle in our area, have taken time to restore some history and enrich our lives. It is a beautiful wall too by the way. One meant to last the lovely winds we have had of late.

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Edward Ewing

Brent, I love how you can find beauty and symbolism in so many things, even a rock. I too am like that.

I feel that many things have an energy about them, and if you are open to it, you will feel it.

I have a 100 year old table in my living room that belonged to my grandmother. Sometimes I stare at it an can actually imagine all the things it must have seen. Thanks for sharing your life with all of us. Edward from Michigan

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Linenqueen

I love to build rock walls and have gotten considerable praise for those I have done. Now I have purchased a 58 acre rock mountain in Charlottesville VA. Rock everywhere. My plan is to build a log cabin with the foundation faced in rock and depending on getting expert advice a fireplace. There is a pre Civil War building on the acreage with a small bank barn build of stone. It is falling apart, but I am hoping to save it without tearing it down. Stone is almost sacred to me. I love just looking at it. Best of luck in all your stone endeavors. Nice blog. Ann

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Phillip

There is such a romance with the land and these stone walls that endure for such long periods of time. Your walls and land will persist through the ages,proud and loved.

We enjoy and congratulate both of you for what you are doing.

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Carolyn

I love old stone walls, too……and I always watch for them and photograph them.

The one you built at the Beekman Mansion is incredible!!!

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Joe

Thank you so much for sharing these photos lol To me their not only stone walls but they represent a way of life that seems to be slowly disappearing. But you and Josh and those brick walls 🙂 have honestly inspired me to do things in a more natural way and develop the dream of opening up my own Bed and Breakfast. So once again thank you!

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Juliana Dupre

love the bird baths…!

Jule – Currently at the pre-fossil stage of life but looking forward to a visit to The Beekman in a year or two when my husband retires – although the jury is still out on whether your great TV shows will induce him to buy a farm or convince him to never buy a farm…

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Susan

I never gave much thought to stonewalls until I moved out of Connecticut and into Houston Texas. Here we have to purchase rocks and there are no old walls. I love your blog and the pictures help keep me from being too homesick.

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Nancy T.

How beautiful and awesome!

What inspiration! The birdbaths are such a fabulous touch!

We are so looking forward to your Christmas special! And of course your wonderful new season!

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Molly Payne-Hardin

This collaboration with Michael is beautiful! I love the bird baths, flat stone entries and benches. His signature design of the large stones is so lovely! What an inspiration! Molly

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Bruce Lang

Now what a great article and photos. As always, really enjoy your writting style Dr. Ridge. I'm a big fan of stone walls. I even have standing stones as well as stone walls on my property that are at least 150+ years old. Maybe even spanish period. I live in calif.

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Patricia Swanson

I knew there was another reason why I like you. I am a rock hound. I collect rocks from where ever I go. I can't have a wall, but they are in little areas all over my tiny, patio-home yard. I am a big fan the the last ice age and the glaciers. Your part of the country was totally created by them. I really love what you have done with the wall–it has such symbolism, but very functional. If you are ever in Aspen, CO, so see the rock garden created in memory of John Denver. Wonderful granite boulders there. Thanks.

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Naomi

The rock wall is beautiful, and will definitely be part of your legacy at The Beekman. I especially like the bird baths — what a great idea!! I'm intrigued by the final photo. It appears to be somewhere like the Great Wall. What's the story with the Beekman notation?

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Judy Phurrough

Here in the beautiful Blue Grass region of Kentucky, rock walls like these are protected by law! Our breathtaking country roads have walls about 3-4 feet high that were often built 150 years ago. They are part of the treasure we are blessed with here in horse country!

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Cat

Gorgeous, functional, AND soooo original. I am very impressed and kudos to the designer of this wall. And to the men/women who labored to build it. Awesome!

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Carla J. Gill

Hi Brent:

I have always had a fascination with rock walls. We have endless miles of them in Maine too. I think about history, sweat equity, and stories surrounded by them every time I drive by walls. Can't wait for the next season to start, is there a date? Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

Teacher in Maine…Carla

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Andrew

Brent, a trip to Scotland is a must for you: stone walls everywhere! They line the roadways, they climb up mountainsides, they wind through forests and surround hilly farms. Some of them are hundreds of years old, overgrown with mosses and vines, and it's astonishing to think how much manpower was required back then to assemble such lengthy dividers. They were never very tall, just the right height to keep out wayward sheep!

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Francesca

A beautiful wall, especially the bird baths as reflection areas, as well as the stone seats. Where I live, close to the Texas Hill country, one can drive through the area and see many dry stack stone walls, but I have to say I haven''t seen any as lovely as the photos of the one above.

Nicely done Beekman boys and Michael Whaling:-))

Francesca

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Jason G

Dr. Brent I can’t imagine the amount of time and conviction Josh and yourself had in erecting a massive stone wall (Congrats). It will definitely last 100 years or more before the next steward to the Beekman Farm needs to tend to the wall and wonder who and why. I ask this question a lot lately, I have been preparing a new sugarbush in Franklin, VT and cannot believe the size of the stone wall that lay on the property. Some walls must measure six feet at the base and 1500 feet long made up of local round field stone. In my search to gain more knowledge about the walls, I was told by one local that most of the stone walls were built in the winter when time was plentiful and rocks moved easy on the frozen earth.

To me a stone wall is a mark to all indicting that the people here were tough as stone. Keep up th great work on the Beekman Farm

Thanks

VT Sugarmaker

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Sarah

What a fabulously poetic piece ("Ode to a Stone Wall") and what a thing of beauty that wall is. (Those birdbaths are exquisite, by the way.) I just arrived at my sister's home to stay with my niece while my sister is away. Their "thank-you-in-advance" gift?…a beautiful set of Beekman soaps! I was so overjoyed that I texted my husband and he replied, "Wow. The perfect gift." Wow, indeed. I can be here at home in California, fondling (yes, fondling) my precious soaps in their snug "brown paper packages tied up with string" (Rogers and Hammerstein must have been talking about Beekman soaps in their little ditty) and imagine that these were the very same ones I saw Brent (and the gang) wrapping late at night during the filming of Season 1.

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Robin

When I was a child growing up in New England, we would often take "Sunday drives" and past many stonewall. I always wondered who had built them, why they were built and where did the rocks come from. Maybe someday a little girl will pass the Beekman and wonder the same thing. Thanks for carrying on this bit of history.

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Robin

When I was a child growing up in Neew England, we would often take "Sunday drives" and past many stonewall. I always wondered who had built them, why they were built and where did the rocks come from. Maybe someday a little girl will pass the Beekman and wonder the same thing. Thanks for carrying on this bit of history.

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Leigh

It's hard to believe that while moving their flocks, the sheep farmers in Ireland would be able to take stones down and put them back again in walls like these.

The lessons you speak of extend to being able to see the fabulous God-given talents and abilities that people have; Dr. Brent with medicine and Josh with words (and both of you with a myriad of other things). People who are able to build a spirit into something like this are among those gifted!

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Bruce & Jerry

Brent & Josh

When you decide to do something you really make it a Grand statement.

What a stupendous natural thing to place on an organic farm…"a stone wall".

It's simple but majestic.

We placed a limestone walkway around the side of our house, and that took months….I can't imagine waiting for a wall to be built. But the end result is breathtaking!

Bruce & Jerry

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stephanie

BEAUTIFUL! I wish I was there right now enjoying the benches, birdbaths and helping you garden. Your website always is a very nice escape from everyday and you have inspired me to work toward having my own farm…I recently bought my first Alpaca and I am currently boarding her, but I hope someday to have a farm that I too can learn from , work on, create a peaceful place to build my Alpaca herd and enjoy.

Keep it up!

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Christy

Wow! Amazing Brent! What great friends you have made and what an incredible legacy! It's only a matter of time before you guys are on Ellen and Oprah! Love ya'll!

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Ginger White

You have really built a beautiful and lasting memory on the Farm. The old settlers, after the Land Rush, put tall, slender stones in the grounds on their property for the sun to warm the earth, accordinig to Native Indian lore. There are a lot of them here. There are also stones put upright at the corners of the property, marking the edges of each corner of the owners land. If that wasn't enough, then there was the shotgun behind the dorr. Really, may God let the sun warm your land and bless the earth for you and yours. Ginger

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Carri New

What a beautiful wall! I'm hoping to be an organic farmer by this time next year, here in Ks. You guys are awesome!!

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delia donlon

When my dad worked in Boston, MA in the 60's, they were ripping up one of their cobblestone streets. He got permission to take a few of the cobblestones home and made us a little stone wall. It felt so…historical…we imagined Paul Revere riding on those same stones! Your wall is gorgeous.

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Susan Albetszi

Wow. What a an awesome, beautiful work of art to leave as your contribution. The details are unique and inspiring. Strength, beauty and nature all showcased in one of the unique. I hope the design and building of this monument will be addressed in future shows. I would love to know more about how the design was developed. The work involved is daunting to even think about. Imagine how many pounds of stone were lifted and fit together to create this work of art! As someone who had to go to a local quarry to hand pick a half ton of stone to go around a small backyard pond, I can appreciate this in more ways than one!

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Sarah Collins

It's those lessons, and the obvious sweat associated with those walls that make them so special and awe inspiring!

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Sarah Collins

When I walk up onto Donat's Brow behind my parents' house in Cobleskill, I see the remains of many stone walls. It amazes me that the land was used as farmland so many years ago. It is rough terrain for farming.

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Ennayob

The newv wall is absolutely beautiful!!! When is new season of The Fabulous Beekman Boys beginning? We can hardly wait

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Renee

what an amazing work of art. each piece, each rock a statement unto itself. each piece fits together, supporting the next piece, perfectly balanced. each rock needs the next, and each rock adds to the beauty.

how amazing to have birdbaths at each leg of the wall. for even the birds will find refugue. the beautiful seats formed by nature and time, for you and Josh to enjoy, nature and time.

how wonderful to share and enjoy in this, your journey. you leave us breathless, inspired and encuraged. you welcome us into your home and lives. we are enriched by this Beekman experience, and changed. We will pay it forward.

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Elizabeth

This is beautiful. I just bought a home and have gotten so many great home and garden ideas from your website, book, and show. I hope to visit Sharon Springs sometime in the future and see the beauty for myself!

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Michelle

What a beautiful gift to build and leave on your property long after you're gone. Georgous!

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