I'm told we're in a drought here, but we've had so much torrential rain lately that things are washed out. I've spent the last few days trying to repair the driveway, which (as is common for rural driveways) is somewhat long. The original owner wisely built his house upon a hill surrounded by hardwood trees, with the pastures in the land below. This protects the house from the dangers of flooding, while giving the pastures the benefit of extra moisture from the runoff.
However, it also means that the driveway extends up a hill, and is prone to washing out. Someday I would like to pave it, but for now it is gravel over red clay, and (as is usually true with red clay) quite prone to having whole sections turned into ravines by a heavy storm.
Fortunately there are some spots of quartz stone on the property, which is relatively easy to quarry. So, since Friday, I've been breaking the stone out of the ground with a pick, shipping the big chunks in a wheelbarrow to the ravines, and then breaking them into small stones and gravel with an eight-pound sledgehammer.
Eight pounds doesn't sound like a lot of weight, but swung from above your head with both hands, you will often strike a stone of eighty pounds and see it burst into three or four pieces. With practice you develop an eye for the lay of the crystal structure, so that you can shear off a piece, or cause the whole to shatter into fragments. Sometimes I dig trenches and fill them with larger stones, so as to trap runoff and silt.
In any case it's hard but satisfying work. The next time someone tells me I didn't build the roads I use for commerce, I can answer: "I surely helped."