Day 18 – Giddy Squeal “Roses!”

Posted on: June 6th, 2014 by
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The kids were struggling with the half empty/half full cup concept and which perspective gives a happier day, so I brought up the rose example.  Asking if a rose is a thorn bush with pretty flowers on it, or if it is a flower bush with thorns on it?  I am happy to report the two older agreed a flower bush, while the youngest as a matter of fact informed me “God shouldn’t make it with thorns”. Ha ha Dean… good point, but you’ll have to take that up with Him!  This reminded me…we need roses for the vineyard.

This post is written with great appreciation for Justin’s parents and their friends the “Rose Growers”.  Unnamed (unless they give the ok).

Monday we discussed the roses and the fact we need 44 of them.  In the back of our minds we were thinking we could do this mid summer or after the grape planting.  Trying to think ahead a bit, and knowing we would probably buy out Home Depot’s stock, Justin asked his Dad if he thought his Rose Grower friend might be willing to sell them in bulk to us?

Tuesday, Justin’s Dad called to let us know the Rose Grower would have 60 roses bundled for us waiting for pick up on Thursday!!!  Oh my goodness!!!  It just so happens the roses are being harvested this week. A week later and he wouldn’t have had any.


These will be the triumphant warriors of bugs and fungus for the vineyard!

Justin’s Dad picked them up Thursday afternoon, we stored them in our garage, kept them wet.  They were bare root bundles that were in 2 large garbage bags. Instructions were to plant them as soon as possible, keep them as wet as possible in the meantime, and once in the ground keep them wet for 4-6 weeks.

I have to admit, I was really excited to plant roses with the kids (especially 44!! who gets to do that!??!)  Grandma R. had a rose garden, which I cherished and admired when I was a kid.  One of those soft spots for me, rose bushes always remind me of Grandma R.

Now the weekend ahead is planned for driving stakes AND planting roses – Yay!  I’m happy that our roses have a story to share. Thank you to Tim and the Rose Growers.  We are so very grateful – let’s hope the first bottle of wine is good enough to drink.  Not only are we very appreciative of the roses, but the week’s events added the much needed wind in our sails!  Thank you.

Day 15. 16. 17. – Weary Be We!

Posted on: June 6th, 2014 by
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A hard days work!

Here we are again, Saturday, Sunday, Monday the saga continues, stake after stake after stake.  In all honesty, the weekend felt discombobulated, many things are showing signs of neglect – friends, family, school, house, etc.  What comes to mind is Karyn saying in the Dory voice “…just keep swimming…just keep swimming…”  (THANK YOU to every single one of you who have shown us a little grace during this time.)


Communications of a Vineyard Installation Team!

We managed to make it through the weekend.  Justin did most of the installation, while I had to get a few work inspections knocked out.  Here is our text from Monday – Day 17 which shows the progress!

So why no rest for the weary? As we try to stay positive along every step, we are constantly pushing towards a May planting(Note the date of text March 30th – ekk!).

Why such a rush?  We  truly  started  trotting down the vineyard research ally June to November…and got more serious from December to February…at that point we had to decide 2014, 2015 or pick another crop…we chose 2014.  We had our doubters as to whether we could accomplish the installation in 4 months…but they don’t know us.

So why a May planting?  The vines need to be in the ground in May.  It’s important for the health of the vineyard, grapes, future crops and our investment   This helps reduce our investment risk by increasing the chances of more successful productive vines –  it establishes the planting at the best time for the climate specific to the site.  (follow that???).  Farming in general is risky, but we’re planting grapes in an area that’s never had a vineyard.  We have a lot of risk to address…so we’re trying to reduce as much as we can.  Excluding the financial technicalities…we think it’s the best time to plant.

It’s true – there’s no snowball chance in Arizona’s summer desert that we will be prepared to plant before May.  However, there is a javalina hair’s slim chance by working every available day we will be ready by early May – and that’s what we’re striving for – only excellence my friends!  We have a significant amount of work scheduled into a short amount of time and we are – really Justin – is still pounding stakes…day after day after day.

…and that is why there is no rest for the weary.

Day 14 – Tink tink tink…tink

Posted on: June 4th, 2014 by
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DSC_0511The days continue of pounding the stakes. From sun up to sun down the tink tink tink continues through the quiet little valley.

Here are a few things we’ve learned quite well through this process:

1. Rocks are not our friends. There are areas of the field that we now know contain rock beds. Those areas are fully noted with bent stakes, stakes that are about 1′ higher than the rest and need to be dug out and reinstalled. Ughh… rocks just slow life down.

2. The pneumatic t-post driver that is a special ordered from Home Depot and has raving reviews about being used to install vineyards…….WILL NOT fit over our stakes…no matter how hard you try – a 2.5″ driver will not fit over a 3.5″ stake….nope, not at all, no matter how much you want it to! 🙂

3. And….so it seems that we tend to think we are still in our mid 20’s. If you were to look at our to-do list each day, you might say we’re a little out of touch with our physical condition. Turns out…now we see it too! Yes, many weekends of endless physical labor and well…we are now fully convinced…we’re not in our 20’s any more!

Day 13 – All Stake No Play!

Posted on: June 4th, 2014 by
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Tape is pulled, mule is loaded, stake pounding begins!

Justin stayed up to continue pounding posts through Monday.  Our good friend joined him and they worked through out the day.  I don’t think one can really appreciate the physical energy required and the toll it takes on a body by pounding stakes.  It’s one of those “club” things, once you’ve done it you understand, the ringing in the ears, the teeth clink, joint jarring feeling.  Although I must say it can be a good way to get out any frustration one may be having!

Installing the stakes goes something like this:

1. Tape is pulled and 18′ spans are marked along the row.

2. Mule or truck is loaded with 22 stakes for entire row and lined up over the top of the tape headed down the row.


Checking the angle… doing the best we can!

3. Every 18 feet a stake is set, pounded a few times (usually 3), then stop to check with level.

4. Once adjusted for straightness (is that a word?), pounding continues. (hopefully no rocks are hit and you move on to the next stake).

Seems easy right???  Just….500 and something more to go…


Starting to get exciting!!!

Aghhheeemmm… today I must brag on these two boys, together they installed 4 more rows…or over 100+ stakes!!   That was in addition to making a trip to town to buy a saddle, stop by Tractor Supply and gather some parts.

Good work boys, good work 🙂

Day 12 – A Lot At Stake!

Posted on: June 4th, 2014 by
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What a great morning view!


Andretti or Stuart…pretending on the turns!

It’s time to get the dirt leveled out and get this show on the road! I don’t even have to say “pick me! pick me!”  when it comes to tractor driving…Justin knows it’s my favorite thing to do!  So I leveled out the trench area and then the area behind the house. …no not planting grapes there….I guess I felt like Forest Gump when he “just keeps run -Ning” well I “just keep driv -Ving!”.  In the mean time, Justin worked on getting the valve fixed. Justin came to get me to put the “Dream Team back together”…well actually to remind me where my help was needed!   We strung the string, measured out the 18′ between stakes and started driving stakes.


First stake!

To put this into perspective we have 22 rows, each of which have 60-65 vines…and three vines between each stake… so somewhere between 20-23 stakes per row…easy right??


Getting started.

Our super awesome neighbors were cooking an amazing lunch (I just have to brag since it’s not every day you get short ribs, salads, ice tea and homemade tapioca pudding for lunch)! We worked up to the last minute to attend lunch and then  we found our kids had decided to play in the mud and were covered!  So we had to bathe them and clean them up before heading to the neighbors for lunch. IMG_20140323_154751_267

At that point we had 4 stakes in the ground and it was looking good.  We fine tuned the stake process and ended the day with Row 1 of stakes completed!

Yes we were happy!

Day 11 – Lost Key On I-17 Call If Found!

Posted on: June 4th, 2014 by
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We arrive to the site mid morning at full steam ahead and start to unload.  Only one problem – the key to the skidsteer apparently wiggled it’s way out and has found a resting place somewhere in Central Arizona.  Just another unanticipated delay.  Hmm… here we go.  After looking in every nook and cranny, that’s an AFFIRMATIVE TOWER…key is lost.

Next options – find a dealer for a replacement OR purchase a new ignition OR try to hot wire it.  Well, the hot wire option was aborted after  a 15 minute attempt.  So Justin went into town to find a replacement key and also purchased a new ignition to change out.  In the meantime, I cleaned up the house, finish unloading, and visited with the neighbor the “not so fun” days events.  Hard to believe, but she mentioned they may have a key.  It turns out the neighbor has a key… and THANK GOODNESS he does!  In no time the skid steer was up and running!IMG_20140322_141901_252

You may get tired of hearing this…but have I mentioned that our neighbors are amazing!!!  Well if not, here it goes again, they are amazing in so many ways!  They put us back on track in no time with just a little key!  Not to mention that over the week, while we were gone, they backfilled another portion of the trench for us.  So so kind.

IMG_20140322_142035_951Saturday afternoon we were a power team!!! Justin worked the skid steer and I worked down in the trench with a shovel.  The trick was to backfill at least 6″ on the pipe with good dirt & no rocks (which was a little tricky) to help compact it.  A precautionary step, so when the skidsteer backfilled with the rocky dirt, it didn’t puncture or break the pipe.  We figured out a pretty handy system that I worked the trench with shovel and compacted, while he backfilled.  I think I had the better view!

Our only hiccup was when we tried to straighten one of the water valve lines.  Apparently it was already strained and decided a break 5′ down would be a good lesson.  Saturday night the trench was backfilled, with the exception of the break, so off to town we went to get the parts.

Yay to the yummy delicious Lucky’s BBQ place down the road for filling the need for dinner (more than once) on this vineyard adventure!

Day 10 – Wow Friday Came Quick!

Posted on: June 4th, 2014 by
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So we hit the offices Monday through Friday for me and Tuesday through Friday for Justin.  It’s back to life as we know it.  Work, phone calls, conference calls, projects, deadlines, kids activities, projects, run club, guitar, fiddle, dance, homework.  Friday comes very quickly this week.  In many ways the vineyard project is motivational for both of us, we get our work done so we can go up and play.

However, here it is Friday and it just seems like we can’t get it all done.  After Justin picks up the bobcat and trailer, and I’m struggling to get all of our other miscellaneous loaded…have to tell the truth…we’re exhausted from the weeks events which ended with a funeral… tonight we decide it’s best just to go up in the morning.


Day 9 – Shazzam Water Baby!!

Posted on: June 4th, 2014 by
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A happy sight!

Monday morning Justin and the neighbor tackle the remaining portion of the line.  By mid day water is shooting out of one of the valves about 20′ in to the air….yay we have water! By Monday afternoon the water lines are completely installed, the excavator is returned, and the trench on the vineyard site had been backfilled!


Our faithful following….these rascals have another story further down the line.


Lefty (the one on the left in front) is our horse, but we share it with the neighbors.

Here is our great following!  This is a set of groupies that have been watching our project since Day 1.  These local ranch horses have grazed on the vineyard land for the last couple of years.  Day after day they stand and watch us work.  Pretty sure they’re just watching and thinking “pass the popcorn!” and other days they are plotting and scheming their break in for their annual grape trot.  Either way, they are our captive audience, as well as all the onlookers who drive by.

The land we are putting in has remained relatively unused in recent years, (although it has significant history many years past).  Regardless, it sat idle for a few years, and so this project has caused some rubbernecking on the OBC (Old Black Canyon).  My father-in-law suggested we wave them in to help :).

Monday night…the Spring Break Vacation is finito-completo!   Justin loaded up the trailer, bobcat, implements, dogs, etc and headed home.  We find that it’s getting harder and harder to leave , especially as the project is showing good progress and Spring is starting to show signs of it’s arrival.

Day 8 – Humor & Blessings

Posted on: June 4th, 2014 by
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Fancy measuring tool to measure where to put in the valves. Not sure what the official terminology is for “eyeballing”….regardless very technical!

Today God reminded us He has a good sense of humor!  It’s Sunday and again the wind blew and blew and blew…ughh!!  So while we should have been at church, we were out in the wind trying to install the trunk lines for the drip and sprinkler system (not miserable…but that thought, as well as a few others…did come to mind!).


He’s checking the marks – every 10′ marks the valve.

By the end of the day the lines were installed, along with two NI (New Idea) water valves.  All it took was a little work, pixie (Dewey) dust, 900′ of 2″ PVC, additional supplies and 3 trips to Home Depot and Ace Hardware.  The icing on the cake to the day was the last 30 mile trek right before sunset for a $2.10 pvc fitting.  Oh yes you read that right – TWO DOLLARS AND TEN CENTS.


Meet Trunk Line 1 and Trunk Line 2!

Sunday evening the pipe installation is complete.  As the sun sets, a beautiful moon rises over the eastern mountain range (no I didn’t copy that from a book…it really happened!).  I pulled out of the vineyard with 3 dirty kids a truck full of Spring Break miscellaneous headed back down the mountain.  We waved good-bye to Justin as we left him to finish up strong tomorrow!


Wish this picture captured the beauty, the moon was gorgeous tonight coming up over the eastern mountains.

What a great Spring Break Vacation Week!



To Him we give thanks:

It can be fairly easy to lose sight of what has been given to us.

What looks like a whole lot of work to some – is a true honest gift to us.  We try to remember to thank Him daily for our health, our family and our blessings.  As wacky as this project is, we know He is with us – for this we are thankful!

Did we mention what awesome neighbors we have AND the treasured little community that surrounds us???!!!  Today our neighbors took the kids to church while we worked.  At church our 6 year old stood and asked the entire congregation to pray for Grandma, and so they prayed for her.  That’s Tate.   Kind of a big thing for such a little guy…well for even someone at my age too.  For all this I am thankful!

There for a reason?? The local church down the road has this warm welcoming peace about it.  The best way I know how to describe it is it’s a place where you feel like your cousins are in the next pew and you half anticipate it to end with a potluck each day!  Something very special about the congregation, pretty certain it has to do with the people and their humble love for Christ….and for this I’m very thankful!

Day 7…Gifting Dirt!

Posted on: May 30th, 2014 by
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Sure beats a shovel!


Let’s remember Spring Break is fun…yes you really have to convince yourself 40 mph winds is fun…because let’s face it – it’s not! Especially when your dealing with dirt.

It’s been a week since we arrived to the site.  Today Justin worked all day on digging the trench.  It was a truly torturous day since the wind blew 30-40 mph most of the day.  Hope the IRS doesn’t come after us, because we “gifted” quite a bit of our dirt to our neighbors today.  With the wind like it was there was no other option!  I give Justin serious kudos, because it was flat out miserable and by the end of the day the trench was complete – SCORE – ON SCHEDULE!


…and then there’s the shovel work!

Always something new to do with a vineyard project.  The kids and I went on an archeology adventure in the trench.  Because what else do you do with a 4′ trench that runs 1/8 mile long???  Very obvious – right?   Needless to say we didn’t find much, but we did find some really cool rocks!


Again…more fabulous rock hunting territory!

Heart attack moments – or HAM’s as I call them!!  We were walking along the trench and we were chatting about what to look for.  Tate (6) was enjoying jumping over the trench in the narrow areas.  At some point his little brother (3) decided he could do the same thing in his “mud boots” otherwise known as irrigation boots (after I had told him he couldn’t do it mind you).  He decided to attempt this with my back turned, and when I heard the cry I turned around to see him gone.  Yes gone.  As in MIA.  You guessed it – he tried to jump the trench at a 5′ depth area and went straight down into it.  I quickly found as I was pulling him out that his crying was NOT because he was hurt, but because he was disgusted (very mad) he didn’t make it across like his brother….oh boys – they keep a Mama’s heart pumping.  All was well and we continued, only later could I laugh about it.

Day 7 – trunk line trench complete!  Today Justin rocked it!


Kiwi..we.we is her nickname, but she will come to Kiwi as well 😉

Meet Kiwi –  Did you know that there are books written about Vineyard Dogs??? Interesting or maybe not – hehe –  but Kiwi is worthy of a little blurb in our book.  Kiwi is one of our 3 Labrador retrievers (the other two will get their spotlight in later posts).  Kiwi is a quiet dog and her only challenge is that she is vertically challenged (some of us just are)!  Or as my brothers say “she forgot to grow…upward” you can see outward is not a problem 🙂

About Kiwi: she is my loyal sidekick, she enjoys holding down her dog bed at the office for hours on end,  she is quiet as a mouse, her piercing brown eyes can make you slightly uncomfortable.  Based on her size and beautiful coat, I’m guessing it IS obvious to anyone that she IS a connoisseur of free range chicken eggs!  Meet Kiwi!