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September 10, 2005

Weeds / Harvest

I knew on my way over to the vineyard today that the day's focus was on spraying Rely herbicide in the rows beneath the vines to reduce the weed invasion. A few weeks back I contacted Doug to inquire as to the risks of spraying Rely around first-year vines, and he indicated that any leaves that get sprayed will die, but there is no risk of permanent injury to the vine. The original plan was to spray last Monday (Labor Day), but due to Tristan getting a fever and our subsequent stay in the hospital that plan disappeared. So it had been over two weeks since I had even seen the vineyard, and even then the weeds in the rows were somewhat out of control. A lot can happen in two weeks...

When I arrived this morning I was shocked at how much additional weed growth had occurred. In fact, in some places I was pretty sure that even an herbicide would not be able to kill some of the weeds, as they were as tall as the cordon wire! Utterly depressed about the state of things, I realized that I would have to walk the rows and pull the largest weeds by hand, which would allow the Rely to attack the smaller weeds. So much for spraying today, where's the shovel.

So that's how today went - walking the rows with a shovel digging up huge weeds and clearing out the rows. I started to get really hot around 2:30 pm so I decided to take a shower to cool off, then took an hour nap in the shack. I felt a little funny when I awoke (more on that later...) but figured I needed to get back into the vineyard, where I continued weeding by hand until about 6:30. I had finished 20 rows and decided to complete the job tomorrow, since we were having Jim/Shayna over for dinner and so they could play with the baby. Just as I was finishing up for the day, feeling pretty dejected about how shitty the vineyard looked, I came across a few clusters of cabernet franc grapes that I allowed to grow this season.

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And just like that, my ire faded and I just sat down and looked at them. So this is what it's all about then, eh? These silly looking little round purple things are what this whole year's efforts have been for. So I popped a few in my mouth and what do you know - they tasted like grapes. Unbelievable! So I looked around and remembered that I had left several clusters to ripen, so I cut them off (we call this "harvesting" in the wine industry...that's right...) I carefully placed my pound of grapes in my cooler to ensure their safe transport back home so I could share them to Shannon. As I left the vineyard I just couldn't help but smiling. All the pain of clearing the land, installing the deer fence, working nights and weekends, spending money and questioning the entire venture - all suddenly achieved purpose and I realized that no matter what future obstables we will face, we have survived the worst part.

We are really going to make it.

I awoke later that night, suffering from severe dehydration. Fever, chills, parched mouth, and disoriented, it was all I could do to make it to the kitchen for some water. I ended up under the covers wearing two robes trying to drink as much as I could. A weird feeling, as I begain drinking more and more water, I could feel it spreading out through my body. Just like that my temperature started to drop. After about an hour I the chills stopped and I started to feel better. I've been dehydrated a hundred times before, but never to that extent. Not fun. Moral of the story - keep drinking while working out in the sun. This was my mistake, as I was drinking what I thought was plenty, but didn't account for the fact that I had decided to wear jeans to avoid the itchies after walking through the weeds. The excess sweating dried me out quicker than normal and resulted in a very miserable night (my big harvest notwithstanding!)

Posted by Stephen at September 10, 2005 8:17 PM