Archimedes may have had a rock-bar in mind when he postulated “Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the earth with it.” It is a six-foot iron bar, weighing twenty pounds, with a round flat head on one end and a wedge on the other; a perfect combination of form and function.
A gift from Cindy, on our first Christmas at the farm in 1999, the rock-bar is an absolute essential in the farm toolbox. If you want a quick means test to separate the men from the boys, put a rock bar in their hands and step back and observe. We have had a lot of people volunteer to help on the farm over the years. Your average musclebound gym rat lasts about thirty minutes with the rock bar and indeed most farm work. Whereas that skinny wiry farm kid can use it all day.
Cindy and I can both speak with some authority, having dug hundreds of post-holes, of the accuracy in naming such a tool. When you have dug down through two feet of clay, only to hit a rock, the rock-bar is the only tool to shift it. Raising it high in the air, wedge side down, you bring it down with force, repeatedly. Like practice for a Russian gulag, you break big rocks into smaller rocks. It is hard work but intensely satisfying.
Once your hole is dug and your post is set, flip the bar over to the round edge. As dirt is added to the hole use a rhythmic pounding action to compact the dirt. It requires short brutal strokes around all sides of the post-hole. No substitute tool or action is as effective in firmly seating a post.
When not pulverizing big rocks into little rocks, the rock-bar moonlights as a lever. Got a stock trailer that needs to be shifted or a boulder that needs rolling up hill? It will do it and with minimal effort on your part. Seldom does a day go by without resorting to the rock-bar.
Form, function and even beauty come together when used by the right hands.