I haven’t spent this many intense hours on a tractor in years and my chiropractor will confirm the impact when I have time for a visit.
However, by late yesterday afternoon, I had, as gently as possible, and with only a few victimized vines knocked out, removed the hills from all 24 acres of grapes. By this morning’s coffee break our sterling crew of young vineyard workers will have raised the last of the vines in the Velo vineyard above the ground. This next predicted deluge of 40 to 60 millimeters might keep us out of our higher clay areas in King Eddie and Velo until the end of next week. In the meantime, the buds are safe to push even with a couple of cold nights in the offing. First potential farming tragedy of the year averted…on to the next.
As I gingerly dismounted from the tractor Tuesday afternoon to change implements, I looked up and saw the swooping and heard the nattering of our barn swallows and swifts. They are back. Maybe not as many as in years past but in a few weeks when their hatchlings leave the nests in the roof trusses of the old sheep barn, they will all be swarming me on the lawn tractor, catching the moths and other insects that escape my swath. It is one of my favorite times. Enough to make me forget the many acres of grass I have to cut, over and over. I just have to be careful when cutting near the parkway because their low flying acrobatics make them susceptible to being hit if there is traffic.
The apple and pear trees in the orchard are just starting to leaf out. If the blossoms can just hold back until this big rain has passed, we should get great pollination, as I noticed some bee activity around our first dandelions of the season yesterday. However, when they are ready to go they usually just start pushing come what may. Watching these gnarly old russets, ida reds and empires burst into life is such a miraculous feature of early May on the Chadsey farm.
By the way, someone asked Vida the other day why she refers to it as a farm and not a winery or vineyard (something we both do) and she realized it was partially because that’s what it was when we got here in 1995. It is also because we are only the latest stewards of this great old (208 years) place and there will be many iterations of it after we are gone. The winery is just our invention, as part of its evolution from forest to productive farm.
Other spring announcements include the grackles returning to their nests in the English ivy on the east wall of the house, daffodils and blue bells splendidly displaying in unusual spots among the forsythia and in the lawn, the rhubarb patch is verging on harvestable, the wood ducks are checking out tree nests in the graveyard, drumming grouse sound like machinery start ups in the woods behind the Apple House, and the great banks of lilacs are getting ready to bloom in a couple of weeks.
What a great time of the year!