Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Our Magical Metal Detector

Will has owned this metal detector for a few years now--


--after she asked for one as a Christmas gift. She'd played around with it off and on in our old yard, my parents' yard, and the park, but never really found anything much, so when she brought it to me a couple of weeks ago and asked for new batteries for it so that she could play with it here, I didn't think much of it.

But oh, my gosh. Our yard is a TREASURE FIELD!

Or junk field. Whichever term you prefer.

Based on the old general store on our property, which I was told is from 1910, and the blue Mason jars that I sometimes find at the old dump site out in our woods, I knew that the property was pretty old, and I'm always discovering interesting things about it that reveal how it's aged--when I tried to dig up and move some daffodils that were in the way of my proposed chicken yard this spring, I found out that the bulbs were all about two feet down by now, and every now and then I uncover another one or two of these limestone blocks laid out nice and flat:

Obviously, every time that happens, I worry that I've uncovered a grave marker, but in reality, they're probably marking garden paths, or the placement of long-demolished outbuildings.

Anyway, it turns out that a 100+ years-old property, originally owned by people who just left things like general stores and paving stones and Mason jars lying about when they were done with them, is a magical place to play with a metal detector. You walk into the yard, anywhere you want to begin, start gently swinging it back and forth--
Yes, a child-sized metal detector is the perfect height for me. I am very short.
 --and within a dozen steps you have a hit. Sometimes, yes, it's old wire, or a rusted tuna can, or other piece of modern-ish trash, all of which I'm fine to discover, as I consider it important to our property clean-up to dig up the trash for proper disposal.

Other times, however...
I *think* that these are nails with a machined shank but hand-forged heads.


Horseshoe!!! We. Were. THRILLED! Horseshoes are hard to date, but this one doesn't have calkins or a toe clip. I plan to clean it and then mount it above our doorway.
 
This part is so exciting that Gracie can't bear to look.
For a while you just dig, occasionally reapplying the metal detector to make sure that you're still in the correct spot, sometimes readjusting when it's clear that your hole is shifting in the wrong direction.
When you start to see something that's metal (it'll probably be red from rust), you then have to start digging around it, often with your bare hands, to expose it without putting pressure on it. It would be tragic to break something awesome out of carelessness and haste!
gratuitous photo of pretty kitty
Found it!
Matt's theory, which seems solid, is that it's a meter of some sort. There's a glass front, and through the broken glass you can see that there are gears of some sort inside. I want to clean it, identify it, and then maybe take it apart if it's not valuable.
 Now that we're actually finding cool things more often than not, metal detecting has turned into an exciting hobby. The metal detector sits by the door now, and sometimes, when I've just finished a burdensome chore and know that another is next on my list, I think, "I'll just go out and find one thing first."

And then I do, and then the cooking/cleaning/sewing 50 drawstring bags for an etsy order isn't so lame, what with all the thinking I can do about what I found and how I'm going to identify it and the best way to clean it.

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