Day 26 Knick Knack Hustle

Posted on: July 7th, 2014 by
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Cleaning up the dirt work after sprinkler line installation…and more exciting is the sprinklers are working!! It’s awesome how happy these water marks on ground make us. Who wants to run through the vineyard sprinklers?

It’s starting to creep up on us –  the feeling of many little tasks piling up.  Usually I don’t recognize this feeling until it’s the weight of an elephant, house, mountain…well you get the point, but I’ve convinced myself this is normal…this is normal.

Yes, we have the major infrastructure in but still plenty of tasks we intentionally set aside.  Most of the tasks at hand are ones we knew we could finish up at a later time, in order to keep on schedule.  Such as putting the actual sprinklers heads on the lines, putting the drip line in to the roses, installing the irrigation timer on the roses, and just basic clean up of the vineyard, yard and house. A full week and a half before we can move forward on installation tasks…pppsshh no time for relaxing…so we turn to the little tasks.

The welcomed results of knocking out the little tasks is they help polish the project and can give a great big sense of accomplishment! We held off on sprinkler heads partly because we wanted to do more research (radius, diameter, flow, reliability) but we had to let that go and went with a readily available head so we can replace them in future as needed, made the decision, installed and moved on.  It was a playful afternoon when the sprinklers first ran.  Wish I had more pictures as Dean tried to dodge the sprinklers as he ran through the vineyard…well I may have ran with him a little too!


So refreshing in so many ways!

Also a great relief – Justin installed the drip line and timer on the roses.  This was a welcomed addition to the whole OBC community. When we first planted we were watering by hand each individual rose (that’s 44 roses) for the first week.  Then Justin rigged up a temporary drip line contraption so we could turn it on, unplug it and it would water (good enough), then switch the hose to each side for next watering.  Our neighbors kindly did this for us during the week.  So the new drip line, no leaks, full pressure, emitters and a very easy to use timer…Priceless (or at least worth every penny spent at Home Depot!) for the whole community!


Such a beautiful day for a drip line and timer install…even the horses thought it was a jolly good show!

Cheers to a little extra time and the knick knack hustle!

Tick Tock Tick…

Posted on: July 1st, 2014 by


Where we enjoy our evenings if we have the chance to call it quits early enough. This tree is 22′ in diameter and the view of the fields and Agua Fria River Tree line make for a place you like to sit back with a drink and soak it all in. Ready for a backyard party?

Time is not slowing down for us!!!  Field prepared, end posts, trunk lines, stakes, sprinkler lines -yep- all installed….check, check, check, so what’s next???   We are to the middle of April and only a few weeks left in the target planting season (and even that may be a little late).  It’s time to get a move on!


Trench dug for sprinkler line – Check!


Sprinkler line installed & trench filled in – Check!

Penciling it all out… how are we going to get 1,500 holes drilled, a few other details taken care of AND whether we should order the vines yet???  Always keeping in mind that we need to schedule delivery 2 weeks in advance.  We’ve got one weekend committed in the valley for a good friend’s  wedding and an annual school fundraiser.  So if my math is correct –  2 weekends remaining before ideal planting time MINUS 1 weekend of commitments in the valley….that EQUALS one full weekend left to get it all done….hemmm.


Tap tap tap…


We find ourselves in a little predicament.

With the little dilemma on our hands of how to get all the holes predrilled for the planting and only 2 1/2 weeks left, it’s down to crunch time.  Chatting with my brother we work out a deal to hire him to drill the holes,  together we discuss it seems like an easy enough task, auger on bobcat, move through vineyard drilling holes, takes some talent, but no one else I’d trust more than him.  Sounds good, easy, right? Yep. Yep.  Yep…hopefully.

As far as scheduling – we lucked out they had a lull in work, so it’s a win-win on both sides.  We get the extra help and we can pay their payroll for a few days.  However, he can’t start till after the friend’s wedding, which puts the hole drilling in the last remaining week before planting.  It is what it is at this point, and I’m thankful for it!  I will admit at this point we can feel the pressure starting to rise as the planting draws near.

So what’s left?  Predrill of the holes, install wire for trellis, install drip line, emitters, spaghetti lines,  fill holes with water and nutrients, make certain irrigation system is working and can handle irrigation, and a number of “things” on the list for preparing to plant.   Seems doable…as long as we don’t focus on the many parts associated with each of these.  So we just won’t!  It’s getting exciting and fun.  Feels like we’ve qualified for the Kentucky Derby, now just getting ourselves all prepped so we can be on the top of our game for the race!

With the hole drilling on the schedule and the drip line installation penciled in, we are now able to schedule the vine delivery.  It looks like the first full week of May has a big target on it!!!  Yippeee!!!



Day 24. 25. Hopping Good Time!

Posted on: June 26th, 2014 by
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Dad and son carry the lines. Of course our trusty and faithful Duke II is keeping a close watch on the kids.

It was a happening and hopping good time this weekend…sprinkler installation and more importantly Easter!  We installed the pvc lines for sprinklers Friday, Saturday and Monday.  We took Sunday off to enjoy our time with family and friends.  It was our first Easter spent in Dewey.  While we missed being with our larger extended family, our neighbors invited us over and apparently the Easter Bunny left a trail of clues that took the kids on a HUGE scavenger hunt!  It was a memorable Easter.


Chloe (my parent’s Golden child) was not happy about installing sprinkler line while we babysat her this weekend. She pretty much acted like she had been abandoned the whole weekend.

We were able to tag team this stage of the project.  For the most part the kids and I spread the lines out across the field.  Stephanie dug out a portion of the trench and Justin stayed in the trenches gluing the lines.  As he started to get the lines glued, it was obvious that we needed to backfill some of the trenches.  The long span of pipe and the various depths of the trench was putting strain on the pipe.  More so it was impacting the position of where the sprinkler line is to come out of the ground.


Love this boy and love this picture with the sun shining on him! He is so happy in dirt!

So while Justin continued to glue the lines, we went back and hand shoveled in the dirt. We had our fabulous sidekick Stephanie along to help us make some headway.


Dean is checking the lines Daddy installed.

By Monday the lines were in!  Another successful weekend…which is good because it’s about time to schedule the delivery of the vines – eek it’s about to get exciting!


Filling the dirt in with Papa supervising.


Where’s Justin??? Yes if you look close you will find him!




Days 22 & 23 – Monster’s Roar!

Posted on: June 26th, 2014 by
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How are we going to dig the trenches?… his response simply put. “The Monster.”

Meet our very own Vineyard Engineer!

Bucket by bucket…it beats a shovel any day!

So off we go to carry out the action plan carefully designed by our top vineyard engineer.  Dig dig dig…4 trenches down the length of the vineyard rows. The Monster runs the row like a cat on a mouse, 10′ wide rows – perfect. Ten feet sounds like it would be plenty, but digging and swinging the arm to dump the dirt can get a little cramped.  Maybe once or twice the back end of the Monster caught a stake that I had to go back and straighten up…roar…it’s a monster!

Justin took a day off for a bachelor party this weekend (yes we do get to have a little fun).  He started Saturday morning, then I worked Saturday to Sunday and he finished up strong Sunday and Monday.  All together we conquered the four trenches.  In all fairness my trench was far too deep, zig zagged and maybe a little wide in areas (and it took me 3x as long).  I was kind of a disaster trench digger.  However, I will own that I got the Monster turned off and on by myself, which does require some fancy lever trigger work under the hood :).


Width between the rows is 10′. The trench was dug closer to the row of stakes the sprinklers are running up

Another weekend down and another task complete!

Just so we don’t appear to be “too” dreamy, it’s probably good to share that the “what comes first?” question has been beat to death in this project.  It may appear this is going in like a large hobby (it’s all fun right?!)…don’t worry my friends… there’s lots going on “pre game” that involves details, financials, (dis)agreements, more research, etc, plenty of the  not-so-dreamy things.

The sprinkler decision had quite a few “what comes first??”.  We could have installed the lines prior to stakes, and maybe on the next installation we will.  It was better for us to come back and trench the lines after the stakes were in.  Mainly because of the unknowns…where to put them?  enough water? enough pressure? is $$ worth it?  If there’s one thing we’re NOT good at…it’s making a quick decision.  Agreed – decisions are painful some days!


Day 21 – For Frosty Days.

Posted on: June 22nd, 2014 by
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Here it is Friday again! The week flew by with work, work projects, kids school, events all the usual that goes into our “week days”. Among the normal week day tasks, we are working nearly every night after tucking the kids in on what’s next, item lists, etc (that is if we can manage to keep our eyes open :). This week, Justin spent many evenings on auto cad running different scenarios on the sprinkler engineering.


We’ve arrived at Friday and away we go back up the hill to start the next phase…. sprinklers!

Sprinklers you ask? Why sprinklers? Is that what you’re irrigating the grapes with? No….the sprinklers are a considerable cost for hopefully something we never have to use.

As mentioned before there are lots of risks in a vineyard, but in very BIG ones are: the risk for a late frost in the spring and an early frost in the fall. These are concerns because if the plant buds out and a frost comes along, it can wipe out the complete crop for the year….major bummer!

On the harvest end, the fruit may be set and time is ticking waiting for the right time to pick. If a frost comes along, it can damage the fruit, damage the crop…and end up with “no bueno” grapes which results in “no bueno” wine….another major bummer!

The sprinklers are not a cure all for this problem, but they do provide for some protection. The theory is that with enough coverage from the sprinklers, if they run during a “frost” event, the movement from the airflow reduces the frost point down a notch or two (or warms the vineyard up a notch or two). Sometimes 1-2 degrees is all you need to help protect the buds or crop. Sometimes it isn’t.

With quite a bit of consideration and still considering other alternatives, we chose to install the sprinkler system. Ultimately we felt it added enough ammo in our risk arsenal to offset the cost of the investment.

So…off we go to install a sprinkler system.

Clear As Sauvignon – Q&A’s.

Posted on: June 18th, 2014 by
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Sometimes our adventures get more into our story than the actual vineyard details.  For any one that’s interested in the real meat and potatoes…here’s the answers to  a few common questions:

Q. What kind of grapes are you planting?

A. We planted Cabernet Sauvignon. Depending on the reason for questioning, you may be interested to know it’s on rootstock 1103P Clone 4.  Without giving away too much information for a future blog, it was originally mistaken for a merlot when brought over from Argentina.

Q.  How did you choose the type of grape?

A.  This is a long story, part of it covered in an earlier blog.  The short answer is that the growing season is “squeezed” at the site.  Meaning we run the risk of a late frost/freeze into May and an early frost/freeze in September.  Now this doesn’t happen every year,  but it has happened.  So we chose a variety that 1. fits best with the climate 2. that we enjoy 3. that many other people enjoy 4. that is more vigorous…because beauty is important too 😉

Q. Who will make your wine?
A. TBD 🙂

Q. Will you have a tasting room?
A. TBD 🙂

Q. How will you know how to harvest?

A. We recognize that there is still much to learn, and while we can do all the research in the world, it doesn’t equate to the actual experience.  When it boils down to it, it’s farming and it’s risky. Fortunately, we have a few knowledgeable sources that will hopefully guide us and we look at this journey as a continual learning process.  There is a science to the harvest, again “hopefully” we’ll find the right advisors and make good decisions that result in a great product.  That’s the goal any way!

Q.  How many grapes/bottles of wine will you get off of your planting?

A.  There are many variables that play into this answer.  Such as growing, harvesting, winemaker preferences, quality of grapes, type of desired wine, etc, etc.  So generally speaking we will again “hopefully” harvest 3-4 tons per acre or approximately 6 tons in a good year.  6 tons or 12,000 lbs.  There are about 3lbs of grapes in a bottle, which would produce about 4,000 bottles per harvest.  Or another way to look at it is each plant will result in 2-3 bottles of wine. We planted 1,500, so somewhere between 3,000 and 4,500 bottles.  Or 720 bottles of wine out of a ton of grapes would result in 4,320 bottles.  So let’s call it “hopefully” at full production, with the weather working in our favor, no mold, no pests, no bugs or disease…we anticipate 6 tons per year or 3,000 – 4,000 bottles of wine.

Q. When will you get to harvest (reap any benefits from this)?

A. Don’t dust off the vasos just yet…in general Y1 and Y2 are spent establishing the roots. Y3 will hopefully produce enough for jellies, home winemaking, etc. Y4 will hopefully produce (somewhere around 60-70%) and Y5 will hopefully be full production. Please note all the “hopefully”s!



Day 20.2 – Stake Slayer Conquers

Posted on: June 17th, 2014 by
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My Love!

The sun is shining and this train is a rollin’!!!

We keep our heads down getting the work done.  The roses will be planted by the end of the day and there are 6 rows of stakes left…we will conquer!

It’s 10 AM and a set of parents pull in.  Did they really hear our inner cries???  They have come to help the Lone Stake Slayer- yay!  It’s amazing how a few extra hands for a few extra hours makes a world of difference.

They join up with the Lone Stake Slayer. Who, had already knocked out a row and a half of the remaining 6 rows (Today’s target – 132 stakes give or take).


One good looking Truck Driver!


Tim’s first post on the job!

Go Team Go!!  Jana takes control of the truck and Tim & Justin tackle the stakes.  They are making great progress ….and then Justin drives off???  It turns out Justin broke the post driller!  Oh dear – how many times does that happen in a man’s life?  He borrows the neighbor’s welder to fix it – which is a shake-your-head-embarrassing funny because the post driller ALSO belongs to the neighbor – oh dear.  Note To Selves – Just buy your own post driller. period.


Not quite the type of field work these two are use to!

Justin is back shortly and away they go – off to the races!  They are on the last row and Tate and I are racing them in the rose planting (which was going a little slow).  Low and behold the post driller breaks again -what? who is against us?? – this time in a different place.  I had to laugh because when the men talk about’s a Grunt..grunt.. manly sort of day in a frustrating proud sort of way! Broke the post driller twice!  And to answer the question above, apparently at least twice in a man’s lifetime 🙂


Just love this picture…pretty darn cool!

Off he went to weld one more time, and in the meantime Tim & Jana predrilled the holes for the stakes on the last row.  Check them out!!!  Oh yes…that’s her – placing the auger and my father-in-law positioning and providing instruction.  I watched them work from the rose planting area, feeling pretty darn amazed, amused and lucky…and have to admit…I may have cracked a smile when they exchanged a few frustrated moments with each other.  It was such a pleasure to have them working along side of us.


The last stake – worthy of a celebration!!!

Justin soon back and away they went.  Justin drilled the last stake on Sunday at 4:07 pm!  AND THAT my friends is worthy of a celebration!

They won the race they didn’t know they were in!  Our consolation prize was their help with planting the last 3-4 roses.


Giving it a little extra love!


Last rose of the day!

The last rose was planted at 4:30!

Yay!!! Today WE conquered!!!

Day 20 – Dream Smarter.

Posted on: June 16th, 2014 by
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On Saturday the kids and I worked for 10 hours digging 22 holes in rocky soils. It’s farmland, so naturally it seemed reasonable for us to dig the holes with a shovel – what’s 22 holes right?

The only problem: it’s Sunday morning and I am a tired pup and Justin is worn out.  Sadly, neither of us are inching out of bed…my. body. aches. The kids are tired, I am tired, Justin is exhausted…we are all tuckered out. As I lay in bed “thinking” about the remaining 22 holes on the north side to dig, my mind drifts to Costa Rica…Hawaii…places to escape!  Then focus sways towards the fact the north side of the vineyard has even rockier soils and I only have a small % of the energy left that I had the day before…  Costa Rica… Hawaii… rain forest…sandy beaches sighhh….oh wait… the roses HAVE to be planted today.  Yes, it’s a mess in my mind as I struggle with what lies ahead (I could sure use some coffee)…but then it hits me…hey wait a minute…the neighbor’s tractor has an auger???!  What? Why didn’t I think of this before??!!  And that – right there – is genius work – especially in the grand scheme of where my mind was at a few minutes prior!  I have a renewed energy!

And so the day started out with some much needed mechanical assistance. The auger is an appreciated addition to the work fleet to drill the 22 rose holes. Tate was my wingman for the day.  Justin was busy with the stakes, so I really needed Tate’s help, and actually couldn’t have done it without him.  I could see Tate digesting the progress we were making because of our “new digger” and I enjoyed seeing his sense of pride and accomplishment in getting the task done.  I was so very proud of him, but also thankful I had his help today.


Working together, we got it done!

The Good Book says we are designed to work.  Some may argue (like 1/3 of the US population) but we believe work is good for us, manual work is a good thing, letting people, kids, put in a good days work provides the pathway to developing many of the great leaders and problem solvers of this world.  Embarrassingly – I should have thought of the auger sooner (yes that doesn’t prove my point very well) however Saturday served it’s very meaningful purpose and Sunday we improved and worked a little smarter.


He was running a low grade fever today, but insisted on helping. 

It was a treasured day to watch Tate make a difference with his hard work and see his sense of accomplishment.  We rocked it – you rocked it Tate!

Day 19.2 Finding Humor & Talents!

Posted on: June 16th, 2014 by
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And the stake project continues…it’s getting there and it’s looking like there’s an end in sight!

One of the fun elements of the vineyard is being on the OBC (Old Black Canyon Highway).  The awesome West Neighbors had us up for dinner tonight and that’s when we realized – WOW what a great view they have of the vineyard (they live up on a hill).  That led us to realize how much entertainment we must provide them on the typically quiet stretch of the OBC….  Ummm.. then we slowly came to realize that they can probably hear our disagreements, see our mistakes and frustrating moments… (ughhhh glad they’re friends)!

Today Justin was on a roll and pounded 4 rows, which is a true feat in most any man’s opinion.  However, there was one stake that wouldn’t go in because of a large rock. Since he was on a roll and exhausted, he just tied a bag to it knowing he would need to go back and fix it. As we enjoyed the dinner & drinks, we stared down upon the vineyard project and that bag blowing in the breeze. The joke for the evening was that Justin decided to surrender and that was his white flag. While the joke is not nearly as funny now, it’s worth sharing because those who are watching the stake project day after day after day –  have had plenty of empathy for Justin’s hard work.

I must also share the fun of adding a new expert to our team today!  Riley is our official Vineyard Rose Specialist.  Looks like her G. Grandma R. and farming roots are coming through in her, because she  truly showed a love with the roses today.


Our Vineyard Rose Specialist!!!

She has a knack for  identifying the roses (Queen Elizabeth & Mr. Lincoln)   and which color (Red or Pink)should be on what row (Odds or Evens), and whether the holes had been filled or the roses had been watered, etc.  Today was fun and productive, in all honesty the boys and I would have been a mess without her.  Meet our Vineyard Rose Specialist Riley!


Queen Elizabeth… Riley kept reminding us because we kept calling them “Queen Mary’s”


Mr. Lincoln – Riley kept me straight when I called it the “President One” I don’t think she understood the reasoning!

As we continue to grow and our kids continue to grow we hope that we each find interests in this project to use our talents and gifts.  I think today Riley may have found one of hers!

Day 19 – Best Day Ever!

Posted on: June 16th, 2014 by
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This is when Tate shouted “Best Day Ever!”. I hope they will always know what makes them simply happy!


“Best day ever!!” is what I hear my kids say as they’re smiling ear to ear this morning. Again we borrowed the neighbors mule cart to run back and forth in the field. The previous evening we filled up a blue dog pool to soak the roses…hey blue dog pools can be classy rose containers – oh yes keeping it classy!

Bright and early this morning we woke the kids up…because “yay” right?? “YAY” today we are planting roses as a family!  It’s all about attitude because that is THE only explanation I have for how we convince them it was going to be a GREAT day!


Riley filling up the rose buckets, one color on the left the other in the right.

Anticipating the potential sighs, I was pleasantly surprised when they were excited to help! We loaded up the cart with shovels, roses, buckets, hoses and ourselves (Hats, sunscreen, water, snacks and all) and headed out to the field.  We took the approach that it is the least we can do is get the roses planted while Daddy continues to install the stakes (which is the honest truth)!


Tate’s first shot at driving…could have had a little to do with the “best day ever” thing!

Our first task was to decide how far to plant the roses from the end posts…..geez these decisions are tougher than one might think! We hemmed and hawed for some time.  In the end we were very very technical…Tate and I found a 2×4 that had been cut, it seemed about right and worked great as a measuring stick…so you guessed it – that is what we went with!   Highly technical and it worked (later I wished we would have went another 6″-12″ or so from the posts).


Miss Riley – today she earned her title Rose Specialist – more details to follow!


What kind of a day is it unless you’re playing in the dirt??

Saturday’s timecard showed that the three kids and I dug 22 holes, filled with water, planted the roses, pink, then red, then pink, then red.


Someone was not happy about stepping in a hole filled with water!

Ummm but wait??? Which one is pink and which one is red?? Which one is in which bucket? And which one was refilled?  Ahgghhhaa…planting roses with 3 helpers is not for the weak minded. We’ll see when they bloom, but I would bet we have a few mixed up…there are some things I just had to let go.

Realizing that this was my kid’s “Best Day Ever” was enough for me to recognize – however the roses turn out – they will be perfect!


Beginning of Saturday – Rose Planting 101!


End of Saturday – Rose Planting 101 A+