Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Slinging Poo

Who knew,
when I said, "I do," 
that I'd spend my birthday 
slinging poo?

Okay it wasn't really "poo," but it sure looked like it! Today, my 52nd birthday, was also day 3 of our grapevine re-planting project. Alongside my favorite farmer, partner, and husband, I spent about 4 hours kneeling in the vineyard, playing in the mud. Specifically, as John dug and chiseled out soil and rocks to make holes in which to plant the new vines (replacements for the dead vines we removed last Fall), he shoveled the stuff into a 30 gallon plastic bin. With winter/springtime natural springs still active, the holes were filled with mud and muddy clay. I pulled out rocks, mixed in compost, and added fertilizing amendments. 

This is a 30 gallon bin, being used for its intended purpose: harvesting grapes.
But it's incredible how many projects make use of the bins!

Picture the bin full of poo. Wait... on second thought, don't! Because it actually has no smell, although it does look and feel like... well, poo. But since it's my birthday, picture a tub full of rich semi-frozen chocolate gelato. It's ribboned with gooey fudge. And firm malt-balls that range from golf ball size to coffee mug size. On top of that, add a thick layer of crushed oreo cookies, and then atop that, a layer of powdered sugar. Then take a large hand trowel and mix it all together, kind of like they used to do originally at Steve's Ice Cream (Boston area, early 80's) or at Coldstone Creamery. Then, forget about the trowel: put both (gloved) hands in and mix it together! This is a concoction that the new vines will just love.

So the vine -- which is really a stick of rootstock, with a grafted-on piece of still-dormant syrah budwood with two buds -- goes into the hole. I pour and John guides the "ice cream" on top of the carefully placed roots until the hole is full and the top of the rootstock plus the buds are sticking out. I insert the pencil rod next to the vine, and connect it to the irrigation wire and the fruiting wire. Then I put on a protective tube, fill it with some sawdust to insulate the buds from frost, and tie the tube up to the pencil rod.

In between the morning and afternoon poo-slinging sessions, I did get in a short bike ride, including a delicious lunch with my cycling partner, Sherry. I got a few opportunities during the day to read my MANY Facebook messages wishing me a happy birthday. I opened cards. I talked to my mom, my dad, and got messages from my brothers. And now, from my blogging perch, I  hear the sounds of Farmer John making me a special birthday dinner. I am grateful for a day spent outdoors with friends and loved ones. And I'm grateful for all the good wishes and thoughts that friends shared with me.

Who knew,
when I said, "I do," 
that I'd have my birthday cake
and eat it too?

Me, on my 2nd birthday.