The peepers are chirping, the daffodils are up, and the trees are showing their colors--spring has come to central VA! But, along with spring comes spring work, and this year it’s compounded by tasks we weren’t able to get done during out snowy, wet, and ridiculously cold winter. So, this past week we were busy in the vineyard, berry patch, and barnyard.
To begin, we had 4,330 new bare root vines arrive—our new varieties, Viognier, Chardonnay, and Cab Franc, as well as replacement vines for plants we lost during 2013. Normally, we would have already set the poles for the new vines but this year, we were lucky to just get the new two-acre section ready to plant. This is a multistep process…ripping then rototilling the soil and then digging a trench for irrigation pipe and laying the pipe. Once this was accomplished the rows were staked and marked with string for straightness and the location of each plant was marked (yes, that’s a lot of marks!). Finally, holes were dug and our new vines were planted in their homes.
Once that was done, each new vine got a bamboo stick and a grow tube to protect it from the ever present and ever hungry deer, as well as other hazards. The grow tube also acts as a miniature green house and keeps the young plant warm. Next week we’ll get started on the posts and the trellis wires and in about 2 weeks we hope to have bud break!
And, the strawberries should be budding soon, too. Last fall we covered all our berries with hay to protect them from the winter weather so we’ve been uncovering them and cutting them back to prepare for their new growth. Rick’s also preparing berry field #2 for the daughter plants. We’re expecting A LOT of strawberries starting mid to end of May and continuing through July. Beginning in June, our berries will be available at the Fluvanna’s Farmer Market (www.facebook.com/pages/Fluvanna-Farmers-Market-Pleasant-Grove/368116841344) on Tuesdays, Farmers in the Park (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Farmers-in-the-Park/81048539935) on Wednesdays, some Saturdays at the City Market (http://www.charlottesvillecitymarket.com/), Salt Artisan Market (http://saltcville.com/), local restaurants, as well as on the farm during TBA Pick Your Own days.
Goats unlike plants have a lot of opinions. Much to the dismay of the moms and kids we weaned the baby goats. There’s really no way to do this without a lot of unhappy, noisy goats. Our plan was to move the does to a different field and confine the kids inside the barn, aka Goat Palace, for a couple of days. We were hoping to separate them by more than a fence for a couple days. No one was happy, but it appeared all was well until 11 pm, when I looked out the window and saw kids in the field. Bruce and I promptly changed from our PJs to barn clothes and went out. It was like the first day of school for new moms and toddlers…all the does were on their hind legs and emotionally calling, “Buttercup, Peanut, Apple…” while all the kids were on their side of the fence crying, “Mom, don't leave me!”
We started to catch the kids one by one and put them back in the Goat Palace until there were about 6 nimble kids left. After running in circles and tripping over ourselves (it was dark!) and goats, we realized that once we returned them to the Goat Palace there was nothing to prevent them from escaping through our clearly ineffective “kid proof ” fencing again. We gave up, opened the gate and got back in our PJs.
Thinking we were really done for the night, Bruce went to brush his teeth and discovered we didn’t have any water—some nights just go on forever! The problem wasn’t in the cottage so back into our barn clothes to find the problem. It seems that Jackson, our adorable but precocious mini-mule, had opened a hydrant in the field and drained our well. Fortunately, after we locked the hydrant, our well refilled relatively quickly!
On Saturday, we said good-bye to all of our boy kids and two of the girls. The doe kids staying on the farm were again noisy as their siblings and friends departed but seemed to quickly forget when they realized that the dinner table was much less crowded.
All in all, it was a productive week with just enough comic relief.
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