Planting new vines
We planted a half acre of Chambourcin this spring to fill out our north vineyard. One row of this hybrid was planted in 2003 and has done well for us so we decided four more couldn't hurt.
The grape makes a stunning Rosé, also adds color and berry flavors to the reds. It's hardy too. The first year vine is mostly investing in roots and acclimatizing, the second and third years will be for training the vine up to the headwire with possibly a bit of fruit from the early learners.
The first true harvest will be the fourth year. A vineyard is definitely an investment in the future!
Pruning the vineyard
Our grapes called us to attention last fall and we answered with pruners and steadfastly worked our way through thousands of vines. We took off the tired parts and kept the new. In other words, we wanted to renew the wood to increase the health and productivity of the fruit. This is something that all vitners have to do occasionally.
The life of a vineyard extends for half a century or more with tender loving care and the resulting wines become more intense and flavorful as the vineyard ages. Ever wonder what Old Vine on a wine label means? I finally dived into the question and learned there is no "legal definition" but that grape vines can grow for over 120 years. One of the oldest vines in the world planted in the 1700s produced a crop (one vine mind you!) in 2001 of 840lbs.
Vineyard Star of the Year
A newish member of the farm, Zosia the blonde border collie, was a pampered urban pet before coming to us as a fully grown dog with city-adapted behaviors. For quite awhile she never strayed outside the yard unless on a lease. She gradually got her courage up but when zapped by the electric fence around the sheep pasture, it was back to square one. We carted her shivering past the sheep in the EZ-Go Golf cart.
Last fall she found her passion in the vineyard. She discovered her keen canine nose. Her paws were steam shovels, her nose a bulldozer, and Zosia routed out sleepy voles from under the snow. As the months went by, Zosia kept at it, never losing her joy of discovery and the occasional tasty snack payoff. Sometimes Max even brought a shovel along for their mutual amusement, amusement on the farm being simple.
As the temperature warms, Zosia trots off for a quick dip in the canal and returns after a brief drink and cool down. She never tarries. She has discovered voles on other parts of the farm and starts every day with the enthusiasm and fearlessness of a born hunter! She is a contrbuting member of the farm nows.
Sheep weaning, worming, and mani-pedis
Our lambs start coming in mid-April, so much warmer then and easier to get out of bed in the middle of the night. The lambs are now separated from their moms, happlily running in a flock of their own. We called in some experienced helpers to finish all the hoof trimming for our sheep before high noon July heat set in. This breed is a delight to work with!
Visit our Babydoll Southdown page for more information about this breed.
Bumper crop of hay
Our first cutting of hay this year was pretty spectacular, we attribute that to causes unknown. Except that we also graze the sheep in that field towards the end of the summer and maybe that has boosted the fertility.