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Well, they’re in and it feels good, but there were some moments of real concern.  Had I chosen the right posts; were they strong enough for ramming; did it matter that they couldn’t be pointed?  In the end, all it took was a good operator with good experience and rain; lots of it.

All in a line
All in a line

The 8’x5″ end posts are all pre-drilled and provided the biggest challenge.  With the delays meaning installation didn’t begin until after Christmas, drying soils and some rocky patches slowed things up.  The 100mm augur bit should have been ample but the difficulties of accurately drilling at a 30 degree angle resulted in a change to vertical posts.  While possibly not as strong in design, the upside is that the posts are now 900mm in the ground which we considered plenty strong enough when combined with the 40″ ground anchors.  On the other hand, trying to bang them in so far resulted in a worrying attrition rate and unacceptably high costs.

Postmaster Ian
Postmaster Ian

In fact, so great were the concerns, that I put a stop to proceedings until I could think of some way, (or someone,) to do it better.  I was resigned at this point to having to pre-drill every hole, even for the 3 1/2″ line posts, with frightening cost implications.  Eventually, pouring out my woes to a mate in the south eventuated in him making a call to someone who knew someone who was away at the moment but might be able to help when he gets back …etc…etc. It turned out that he could and, after many more delays, he did.  Not only that but, after so much rain fell in April that I was worried about getting onto the site at all, by May 17th, all 620 line posts were in with no pre-drilling and with the loss of only one; a pretty incredible outcome.  Love your work Ian Brown.

Post on Posts

Best layed tarps...The best laid tarps of mice and men…       Right there will do it.  Just the place for all the posts which are on their way at last….waiting………waiting………



Can't get up there mate

…here they are.   (2 hours late but not to worry.)   First problem: – apparently low range 4WD and a diff-lock doesn’t count for much these days as truck can’t get through the gate.  Tried forwards.  Tried backwards.  In the end, the only way to go was sideways…



First one off…so parked in the neighbors driveway and craned them over the fence.  The tarp had to go but, seeing these things are supposed to last at least 50 years in the ground, I figured that a few weeks above ground won’t hurt them.




That's a lot of postsAnd there they are…620 line posts and 200 end posts.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do with them until the ground anchors turn up from Qing Dao in around 30 days time.  At least that will allow time to get everything ready…I hope.

Does “doing the right thing” mean paying too much?

For the record, I am a strong believer in community, including shopping locally whenever possible.  Sometimes I know I pay a little extra but then I often save on the time and fuel it takes to travel for the sake of a small saving in price.  Perhaps because my family ran a village store when I was little, (which eventually succumbed to the power of big supermarkets,) the “use it or lose it” mantra is one I spout to all and sundry when it comes to supporting local business.  But how far am I supposed to go?

For example: the other day, I dropped into my local hardware store in Exeter to inquire on the price of trellis wire.  I had done some homework on-line as I will need a total of around 30 km to complete the job and, needless to say, every cent counts.  The best price I could find trawling the internet was easily matched by this awesome local business, justifying my suspicion that, in many cases, we only think we get a better deal from the larger suppliers.

As I have said in an earlier blog, (see A dog, a compass and a measuring wheel,) my posts are being supplied by the terrific guys at Woodshield.  While a QLD based outfit, they support our local industry by being associate members of the Tamar Valley Wine Route and, of course, are the only suppliers of these particular chemical-free posts which I was anxious to use.  No problem so far.

Earth Anchor dimensions0001Now for the rub.  For various reasons, I have decided to use earth anchors to brace the trellis, rather than the alternative box assembly which uses more posts and therefore should be more costly.  I was horrified to be quoted around $37 a piece, plus delivery, by the nearby branch of a nationwide rural supplies group, and that for something that was barely sufficient for the purpose.  In addition, they wanted to charge me $13 each for a strainer kit (length of wire rope and a gripple)  meaning the cost of the anchors would have exceeded all the other trellis costs put together. I seriously considered a change in strategy but thought I would give it one more go and look further afield.

MUCH further afield.  To cut a long story short, I have purchased an over-engineered anchor of the same design and material from a manufacturer in Qing Dao, China.  The total price, including freight to the vineyard, is …  well let’s just say that the total cost of my end assemblies; posts, strainers, wire, gripples, the lot, is now cheaper than the price quoted me for just the anchor.  I think I just found my limits.

A dog, a compass and a measuring wheel…

Measuring up 3
…two of which at least were useful as we set off to make a survey of the block so that an order for the trellis posts can be placed next week.  This represents the biggest investment since buying the land and I have thought long and hard over the right way to go, not only in terms of the training choices, height, end assemblies etc (of which their will be much more in future posts,) but about what materials I would use.

The standard choice is CCA (copper, chromium, arsenic,) treated pine.  It lasts well, although it tends to brittleness, and is relatively inexpensive.  While there have been few issues with chemical leaching, I have encountered the occasional whisper that, in areas of intensive planting, the arsenic residues in the soils are building to levels that might become a concern in the future.

As everything involved in building a vineyard must be done with an eye to the future, I have settled on a new product from the wonderful Ashley Davidson at Woodshield comprising an untreated machined pine post sheathed in a recycled 6mm plastic outer.  These posts have higher breaking strains than treated pine and are suitable for organic viticulture.  While admittedly there are higher initial costs, hopefully they will be offset by long-term savings and minimal environmental impact.  And I feel that I am doing the right thing.
WoodShield brochure