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!
…and maybe after a good bottle of bubbles, it almost looks like a vineyard. 9km of wire strung and many hours of mowing meant a reasonably productive weekend. Desperate to spray off the rows but, frustratingly, the wind picked up today. Maybe this evening.
As you may have read in “Firing at Both Ends” there have been the occasional moments of concern. Thankfully, we at least seem to have this particular one under control. The picture shows the I10V5 Chardonnay rootlings, (that’s right, they are no longer cuttings,) which are not only the dominant clone in the planting scheme with 40% of the area, but also the final batch of the Tassie cuttings to strike. Interestingly, they have also survived a light frost completely unscathed, which means that our choice to callous them outside in order to “toughen them up” seems to have worked. This will hopefully reduce first year losses in the vineyard.
OK! So the plan WAS, if you remember right back to April, that after giving the whole site a thorough discing, all it would need in Spring was a few quick passes with the harrows and everything would be beautifully smooth, clear of grass and weeds and ready for planting. That of course was before the record busting rains in Sept/Oct produced such vigorous growth that I’m beginning to think that Jack & the Beanstalk might have some factual basis.
In fact, 5 passes with the big stump jumpers still didn’t do the trick and the upshot is a change of plan. We will simply spray off the rows and leave the rest. At least there is less rush to establish an inter-row cover crop and, as you can see from the picture, the whole slope is now beautifully graded….and nothing but blue skies at last.
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………
…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…
…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.
And 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.
One of the variables we considered when the sticks were slow to strike was whether taking cuttings soon after vintage and before any significant frosts would affect the level of stored carbohydrates. Of course, the need to access producing blocks before pruning dictated the timing. However, the rapidity with which these CH277 cuttings have thrown roots is interesting as they were taken just prior to bud swell in early spring. (Note to self – much more pleasant AND possibly more effective to take cuttings when it’s warm and sunny!)