Yes! Well kind of. You just have to connect a suction hose from the dam to a huge pump complete with doser unit, anti-syphon and space age controller; then connect that to the 3 zone solenoid switch unit, (one of which the cows stood on) and then bury 2 x 150m x 2″ polypipe (why does it come in length by the metre but diameter by the inch?) followed by around 250m of 1″ poly which then needed to be replaced with 2″ as it couldn’t deliver enough volume into which you drill 85 holes, insert 85 grommits plus take-offs to short lengths of 16mm tube (aha! It doesn’t all come in inches then?) with no holes which you then join to 9km of 16mm dripper hose, turn the thing on and VOILA! Water comes out. See? Simple!
While we have had plenty of rain and soil moisture is good, I am still anxious to get the irrigation up and running. When it dries off it will do so quickly, even if the Bureau aren’t quite forecasting El Nino conditions.
So the team are out again, running dripper lines as fast as they can go. If only I could get my dog Barney to drag them down the hill it would save me some serious k’s. Mind you, I get a good look in every single vine guard while I am doing so.
I have always felt that a project like this must be more than just vines (shock horror!) and that the whole property must have a wow factor. So with this in mind, and it having been hours since we planted anything, the poplar trees were planted last year, (see out of the nursery)on the south side of the vineyard. The north side, where the entrance drive will eventually be, requires something shorter; tall enough to provide a wind break but not shading. Not wanting to waste an opportunity to produce something useful, we have decided on an avenue of various nuts and olives. Almonds are in, as are some hazelnuts. Ironically, (as this property was originally destined to be an olive farm,) I have no olives at the moment so they will have to wait.
I know there is still a long way to go, and arguably there always will be, but still I feel fantastic and excited about what we have achieved so far. I wonder how many people in life can say they built their dream? Well mine is built so I thought I would try to tell the story so far with a few pictures. Enjoy. I have.
The count down is on to planting and the team is all lined up for Saturday. I’ve been pushing as hard as I can to get enough wires up, pipes laid, fences run. NOW it decides to rain?…and blow…and everything else. So close now and I’ll be stuffed if the weather is going to beat me but the weather man says more of this to come.
And I was glad of a rest from straining end braces (and my back) when the poly for the main and sub main lines turned up along with a ripper/pipe layer.
Spent Thursday afternoon laying out the lines, (well it was a beautiful day,) and, after a morning on the braces, Craig turned up with the tractor. I think nothing so far has gone as smoothly
In 2 1/2 hours we had laid around 800m of 2″ and 1″ pipe.
I came across this nicely researched article on Champagne Aubry which I thought worth sharing. They too have planted all seven permitted Champagne varieties although it is shocking to see how little Arbane is in the world. Hopefully, I can help to rectify that. Think I ought to get in touch with them!
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.
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.
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.
Yes I am embarrassed, and deservedly so, about how long it has been since I last wrote a post here and it is not because nothing has been done on the vineyard, as the ever increasing stack of invoices will attest to. Neither has so much been achieved that there hasn’t been the time to document the progress. Instead, it is that summer has come and gone leaving a history of seemingly endless frustrations and disappointments rather than the triumph I had naively envisioned in spring. While the intention has always been to maintain an online diary of events from woe to go, any attempt to do so over this time would have resulted in little more than a litany of whinges which would have been neither helpful nor interesting for you all to follow. And so for once I followed my Mother’s advice by sticking to the principle of… “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”
In retrospect, there were good things to come out of it all…lessons learned in attention to detail, where and where not to cut corners, when to say no and especially that other people simply cannot have the same level of commitment to what is, after all, my dream. There were also some excruciatingly funny moments, (also in retrospect,) usually involving cows, after which the phrase “herding cats” holds less meaning for me.
As always in this amazing place and amazing business, there were the people whose calmness, strength, generosity and occasional comic relief got me through a tricky patch, the first of many I am certain. Incredibly it seems that everything is back on track for the moment, albeit with a bewildering list of things still to do, details of which can now flow again via this blog. Thank you for staying with me and stay posted because, as my Mother would add, if you have got something to say, say it LOUD!