Journey: Thoughts and Reflections along the path. 

Sheldon Haynie
January 22, 2013 | Sheldon Haynie

Zen Pruning

Vineyard care has many aspects, there's the relatively violent tasks of tilling and spraying, accompanied by the roaring of a diesel, the cameraderie of a picking crew, and the nearly silent handwork of pruning, leaf stripping and shoot thinning.

Pruning is a relatively solitary task, even if there is a team, as it requires focus, to select the cane, pick a site and make your cut. Given the capabilty of the electric pruners to cut the 12ga wire, you need to be looking for that and keeping fingers out of the way, even with the safety circuit and left hand conductive glove system. Thus its an ideal task for reflection, akin to raking a zen garden. You work at a pace that is comfortable, the limit more your ability to process the images and decide on cuts, than to move your limbs tp execute them. Its ideal for those of us who have variable attention focus, what the world may call ADD. Waving a kilogram of powered cutter around is enough to keep your attention, and the slow progress down the cordon coupled with the change from last years canes to the newly prepared vine is pleasing aesthetically.

Given a nice clear day with few scattered clouds, brilliant winter sky and crisp air its invigorating to the spirit, and time seems to flow by. With 15 acres to prune, and an average rate of 10 hours per acre thats a lot of opportunity for reflection. We've only just begun this year, and we have to time our efforts to avoid frost after budbreak, so after a few experimental acres at our big Cabernet Franc and Merlot Athena's vineyard, we will switch to the hillside at Soli Deo Gloria and work on the Petit Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot there, as the frost risk is much less when the cold air can run off via gravity and not pool on the flat.


Time Posted: Jan 22, 2013 at 11:45 AM
Sheldon Haynie
January 10, 2013 | Sheldon Haynie

Lighthearted Farming ( Even When Deeply Mired)

Farming is generally considered hard work, at least by those who have done it. Even in the 21st century there is a need for some physical strength to do the regular parts of the job. And then there is the more extreme requirements, such as when you have a tractor sunk out in a field.

Such has been our misfortune twice so far in the last weeks, as first the Kubota BX2660 tractor was dug in while using the hilling disc.



And then the RTV Utility Vehicle was stuck up to the axles while Joan was taking a census of missing vines.

At least we're getting better at extracting them, investing in a "farm jack" and a 4000 pound pull come along as Joan is using here, to pull the 1500 lb RTV out of the hole it had dug.

One would think that after the first time we would have learned, after all it was the same vineyard, albeit at opposite sides, and with different operators. However this vineyard has a variable clay strata that traps water and the gound does not necessarily show the saturation until you are sinking in. Once we get a bit drier, we'll take our new Ripping shanks and try to break through the clay, or if that's not deep enough, the hydraulic Auger to drill "drains" where we had pooling.

In between the two events, we actually had some time to be "Lighthearted" and restored a pre-World War II disc that may have been animal powered to working shape, and painted it our Logo Pink, just because we could.

If we manage to stick the disc, at least it will look prettier when we have to dig it out.

Time Posted: Jan 10, 2013 at 11:39 AM
Sheldon Haynie
January 4, 2013 | Sheldon Haynie

Farming again

Toiling in the Vineyards:

We had a brief hiatus, between hilling up the rows of the big vineyards there was Christmas and New Years, when nothing more taxing than viewing the cover crops and rebuilding a disc happened. Now its time to head back out and resume the cycle. Tomorrow we will start weed suppression and pre-pruning at Athena's Vineyard, taking the bulk of the dead canes off with a hedge trimmer and spraying Glyphosate (commercial Round-Up) under the wire to reduce the weed growth. Alex and Derek should be able to just about do the whole vineyard in a day if they move along, there's 8 miles of wire and they would need to walk both sides of it or a 16 mile hike on flat ground while carrying tools. 

The smaller vineyards get their turn next, as we prepare for the pruning later in the winter season to delay budbreak in the spring to when the risk of frost is reduced. We will work every Saturday from here through October, and probably have Joan working some weekdays as well doing tractor work such as more hilling and ripping to reduce compaction. 

Somewhere in there we need to get the Kubotas  over to C & N Tractor for oil changes, lubrication and general check overs and check the mower, tiller and sprayer for wear and tear as well, rebuilding anything that needs it for the upcoming season. 

This year we want to be a bit more pro-active on some of the hand labor chores, so we'll need to work with Miguel and the hombre's to set up for shoot thinning and suckering early and to keep up with the weed suppression on a more aggressive schedule to allow irrigation inspections to be more effective. 

Its becoming a real job. Next month we'll participate in the WIneries of Santa Clara Vineyard Day on February 7th at Sarah's Vineyard after attending the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium. 

Time Posted: Jan 4, 2013 at 6:47 AM