Monday, March 19, 2012

Il Vino Vita

Sunshine fencing
Four rows of Pinot Gris are the starter population of our vineyard. Mike's vineyard. It's been his 40-year dream coming to fruition.

Mike intensified his research on vineyard planting these past few months: what kind of posts, at what angle; how many wire supports; best row spacing for maintenance and harvest; plant spacing to allow sun and airflow for best canopy and fruit production. We acquired the parts list — we'd never build a fence by ourselves before. Some assembly required!

onlookers Smuggler & Trinket

The vine cuttings we rooted last year must be planted while still dormant, and we only have a few more weeks of opportunity before they 'wake up.' The ground is prepared — trenches dug months ago to 'fluff' the compacted soil — and the fence and gates are finally in place, although we allowed the weanling alpacas in to keep us company.
roots uncovered in grow box

Now to plant...

The convergence of plant dormancy, reasonable weather, and days off has been the challenge.

Digging up the rootlings in the first raised bed proved to be harder than we'd thought. Most of the roots are strong, long, and tenacious! Pitchfork engaged, we loosened the dirt and wiggled or tugged each one out.

Roots and stems are pruned before planting, and a 'grow tube' collar is slipped over it, ensuring a mico-climate that promotes growth.  The tube is specially designed to enhance the sunlight while it buffers the plant from wind and drastic temperature changes.

Kelly helps us!
One day's work garnered not quite two rows of planting. Friends volunteered to come help, and by the end of the next day, and between minor onslaughts of sleet, we had four rows completed, 68 vines. Clippings from these will be rooted to fill in any gaps or to add another row.

Waiting in the wings are about 150 pinot noir vines! We will start those rows at the top of the vineyard, leaving a blank area in the middle for adding to each type without mixing them. The weather is taunting us with two days of snow, but once that melts, we're ready to go at it again.

View to a Vineyard

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spinning Camp

No, not the exercise kind of spinning that is so popular these days. Rather, the old-fashioned spinning wheel to make yarn kind of spinning. Besides small suitcases and our spinning wheels, we bring bags and baskets of fiber, roving, yarn, projects-in-progress, assorted needles, niddy-noddies, swifts, ball-winders, and books to share. Oh yeah, and an inflatable Scrabble table.

It's the annual spring retreat for the EWES group (Eugene Wednesday Evening Spinners), held again at Silver Falls State Park Conference Center. We carpool as best as we can and show up on Thursday afternoon. Cell phones and laptops barely work here, so we're can remain submerged in our common world of fiber and creativity.

There is no particular schedule other than to show up in the lodge for breakfast, lunch and dinner at prescribed times. No classes or meetings. Lots of walks in the forest, along the creeks or to the waterfalls. Naps. Lots of lively conversations, raucous laughter, catching up, whirring of wheels and clicking of needles.

Most of these spinning wheels are not so old-fashioned: there are folding portable ones, sleek and modern ones, even electric spinners (4 of them in this group) that run on batteries and require no treadling. Beautiful wooden wheels constructed of cherry, oak, ash, and myrtlewood, some lovingly handmade, some commercial.

A few of the regulars had other things going on this year, and although we miss them, there are some new faces that fit right in. A parade of life is represented by teachers, pharmacist, veterinary technician, nurse, author, computer geek, web designer, retirees, professional gardener, sheep and alpaca owners. This is my fourth year to come. Mike gets to enjoys a few days to himself, and graciously takes on all my farm chores so I can be here. The fall retreats occur during birthing time at our farm, so I can't attend them.

Spinning camp is an opportunity to try out new techniques, to get advice on color combinations, and to show off pretty, practical and wearable hand crafty art pieces.

All of this amidst set in Nature's artwork, so nurturing and inspiring.

Who knows, this lichen may make an interesting dye color? I'll take it home to try out.