This post could go into a “So, you want to put in a vineyard 101” series, or maybe it should be called “Do you “really” want to put a vineyard in?” But then again, remember that my courses come with picture of my family and others doing what “they” know how to do, but I just “pretend” that I know what they are doing. So, don’t expect much.

I was going to try to put up a post about putting in a basic irrigation system for a vineyard. But – when I went out to the vineyard a couple of days ago – this – is what they were working on. So – this – is what you get pictures of. It has been really cold around here. Remember the snowman. But this day it got into the 50’s, so it was warm enough to do some gluing. We don’t really want it to warm up too much because it would mess up the grapes knowing whether it is time for them to start budding out or not, because we might still have a freeze that would kill all those buds. But the guys wanted it to warm up enough to be able to glue pipes together, but not long enough for the vines to think that it was time to bud out yet. Wow, viticulturists (and farmers in general) are really picky about what kind of weather they want.

By the way, Viticulture (from the Latin word for vine) is the science, production and study of grapes which deals with the series of events that occur in the vineyard. When the grapes are used for winemaking, it is also known as viniculture. It is one branch of the science of horticulture.

So, that all sounds really technical, but what it often comes down to is …

… the guys playing with their big toys – like their “big” tinker toys.

As you can see the vineyard doesn’t look like much right now. Not much green except for the rye planted between the rows for ground cover. That is good though, that’s, how we want it. Remember that we don’t want the vines to bud out until after the last freeze of spring. If the buds freeze then they don’t make grapes. This all sounds rather simple, but it is a major consideration for those of us who are trying to “grow” the wine industry in Texas. So much so – that we are putting in this experimental evaporative cooling system. (A friend shared – this site explaining evaportive cooling.) The purpose for this system is to cool the vineyard down in early spring (when it warms up a little too much) in order to delay bud break. We don’t want the vines to bud out before the last freeze of the spring. No buds, no grapes, no Texas wine.

I told you the guys like their big toys. Here is an interesting sprayer. It sure sprays a lot of sulfur at time. I’ll just try to stick to the subject at hand. Back to today’s job.

First you rent a back hoe. Then you have five guys try all morning to get it started. Remember that you are paying by the day to rent this machine. Then after lunch you pay a mechanic to come out and help get it started. So it has finally been running for a while.

Put her in place. And set her in the ground.

The boys were complaining about how slow the ditcher moves. Estimating that it’s top speed was 5 miles an hour. A friend of ours reminded the boys that it would be a “whole” lot slower if they were doing it with a shovel.

And there you have your nice little ditch.

But wait there are more ditches. Let’s see where they go…

More ditches with pipe ready to go in. Let’s keep going.

As you can see this vineyard already has it regular underground irrigation system installed. The pipes connect to drip tape that runs the length of each row. The drip tape looks like skinny black hoses. Some vineyards have their irrigation above ground; some vineyards have theirs below ground. There is a debate with two sides. We do it underground because My Honey says that if you put it in right in the beginning than it lasts a really, really long time without repair. You also don’t have surface moisture which increases your weeds. And all farmers hate weeds, but especially organic farmers. But other people in other areas might have different problems, so they might choose to do their vineyards differently than we do ours.

Back to following the pipes. Maybe we can find the guys. Or – maybe we should have just looked for their pickup trucks, that would have worked as well. Just not as fun as driving around following white pipes.

Here are the guys all working on their individual spots with a small audience looking on. One of the guys that I brought with me immediately cheerfully jumped in a hole and started working. The excitement was in the air! Not me. I think I’ll just stand here and take a few pictures along with the small audience.

At this point there was quite a discussion on how to proceed. Group play time! Let’s see if we can figure out how to put all these Tinker Toys together.

At this point I think they got it all figured out, but I’m not too sure since I got rather distracted by the beautiful clouds in the West Texas sky.

Well, back to our project again. Tools:

Ditches and pipes as you have seen. Next you need a saw and some glue.

And of course all your different and unique Tinker Toy parts. Actually the guys get the company, Watermaster Irrigation, that we buy the parts from to make them a plan. That way they know how many of all those little parts to buy and where to glue them all together.

It is also nice to have a small audience even if they aren’t attentive the whole time. Lots of distracting toys on the farm.

So once they figure out where the pieces need to go together…

They cut the pipes apart with the saw…

Swab on some glue with a round brush on the end of a little stick.

They have to get these glued and put together really, really well because remember the deep ditches that these pipes are going into. Well, no one wants to be the one who has to use a shovel to dig the pipes back up and fix them. So everyone has quite a bit of motivation to get it done right the first time.

Then they go down to the next spot to work on.

Wow, that’s a lot of pipe strung out that they have there to put together.

And there is even more pipe. Where does this job end?

The audience and I are getting a little cold and have helped all that we are able. I think we went and got a pair of work gloves that they needed. And silly me, I asked if they wanted the clean pair or the dirt pair. To which question they looked up from their glue mess and said, “The dirty pair would do just fine.” I think we’ll just head on back to the house, but I sure am glad that we have all these guys out here to finish putting these Tinker Toys together.

Look what I found on my way home! I don’t know if you can tell from this picture, but that ditcher just made ditches all the way down this dirt road! No big deal, right. Except that that road is the road for me to drive home on. Hmmm, I guess I’ll have to find another road home.

I didn’t give that ditcher a dirty look, now did I? He seems to be playing chicken with me. Or does he just plan on running me down. Good thing those ditchers are as slow as the boys told me they were. Just kidding. I don’t really think he would run his own mother down. Would he?

Oh, there’s My Honey. He is always in the thick of it all. I’m sure he’ll help me find a road home. For some reason I think he wants to keep me. Hopefully, or else I might have to start helping them put those Tinker Toys together. I might mess up the whole project. I think I might go home and help put the quesadillas together for dinner instead.

Blessings, Betty

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