Vineyard Work Post Harvest

vineyard Oct 16, 2013

Now you can see the vineyard after harvest. If you look carefully,  you can see in the upper left, a drilling rig – to the left of the barn. No, we are not drilling for oil! We are drilling a well to a deeper aquafer for water- but, more about that later!

You might think that since our last grape harvest of 2013 is finished, we would be kicking back and relaxing.

That is what our children thought!


Quite the opposite is true.

We have finally finished hoeing the vineyard (all 27 acres of it!) for the last time of the year.

Yes, it was a wonderful workout, great exercise and time to work together as a family. But, ask any of us and you will get the same answer – we are glad to be done! In fact, “glad” doesn’t accurately describe the feelings experienced upon completion.

We had to hoe for 3 reasons. The main one was to remove all the organic material from under the vines – this was a safe haven for wintering over bugs. Secondly, we wanted to get rid of the weeds before they went to seed (especially the tumbleweeds) and since we were so close to harvest, we were limited as to what could be sprayed. And thirdly, a dirt mound had built up under the vines as a result of tilling (discing) the rows – next year we will be going “no-till” so this will not be a problem.

To keep the weeds under control we can spray Roundup. But, since this can also kill vines, we like to minimize our use of it. So, that brings us to our latest activity…

Treflan is a chemical classified as a pre-emergent. It allows the seeds to germinate but stops them from growing roots, thus they die. It is really quite amazing. The draw-back to Treflan is that it must be incorporated into the top layer of the soil (by raking, tilling or rainfall) otherwise, it is broken down very quickly by the sunlight. Because our hoeing prepared the ground so nicely and since we do not have much rainfall here in west Texas, the best method of incorporation was to rake it in.

Our oldest son at home is using a spraying rig modified by John and the boys just for this. The rig is pulled by our 4 wheeler and spray nozzles across the back near the ground deliver the predetermined amount of Treflan at the sides under the vines.

spraying treflorin

The photo below shows the yellow Treflan on the dirt. The yellow color makes it very easy to see what has and what has not been sprayed and then raked into the surrounding dirt.

yellow treflorin on dirt

Here is the rig going up a row – look closely and you may be able to see the yellow Treflan. Hint: there are 2 spray nozzles on either side of the tank and wheels.

spraying rig moving up vine row

Now, for the raking crew.

John drives the tractor pulling a trailer which carries – you guessed it, children holding rakes! They rake under the vines as the tractor drives up and down the vineyard rows to incorporate the Treflan.

This all seems easy enough but there is one catch – nothing is ever as easy as it seems is it? The difficulty seems to be holding onto the rakes – they get caught on vines and yanked out of hands. Since it is such a problem, we now have a designated rake-picker-upper who follows the tractor and returns rakes to the drop-ee!

raking the vine rows

It is difficult to tell from the above photo but there are 2 children on each side of the trailer raking the rows and that’s the rake-picker-upper in the orange shirt (he’s getting a ride until a rake is dropped!).

Rain is actually in the forecast for today. If it does indeed rain, that would insure an even better incorporation into the soil for the Treflan (actually it is a generic equivalent = cheaper) and hopefully fewer weeds to deal with later.



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  1. says

    Dear Dina-Marie,
    I do very much enjoy your blog and all that you “whip” into it. Delightful, and very impressive. I often pass info/pix/etc. along. Just wanted to let you know though that I was alarmed re the potential use of Roundup you mention in this latest issue. I am grateful you decided against it, for your sakes. There is an emormous amount of info available re RUp/glyphosate on the net. Much is linked to GMOs, as I am sure you are aware. But few realize the health hazards apart from a general awareness that “chemicals aren’t good”. Its long and short term effects will of course vary as everything is on a spectrum—individual bio-chemistry, over all health, age, gender, etc., etc. I have no idea re the substitue you have opted for, but if it is basicaqlly a scaled down version of RUp, you are only just using less poison. It is well established that all glyphosate concoctions are endocrine disruptors, carcingenic, contraceptive, the cause of various allergies, GI disorders, reproductive & genetic anomalies/difficulties,& long term debilitating diseases/syndromes—particularly in & for the young. Contact topically and by inhaling both are great gambles. I realize trying to make a go of all you have done and put into your new “homestead” is a remarkable leap of Faith—both human and DIVINE. It is clear much sacrifice has begun to bring many blessings, thanks be to God. But there must be another way for you all to deal with the challenges of work load, time, cost, “hands available”, vicissitudes of weather and nature, etc. without putting your lovely Family even remotely at risk. Are you familiar with “Acres USA”? It is a wonderful publication and resource that was, in fact, started to address these very issues. Not only are there articles by reliable farming “Pros” & assorted dependable experts in various fields, it links to excellent companies and consulters to find alternatives, especially re health & quality of life—for the folks on the land, as well as the land and its critters as well—animal, vegetable & mineral!!! They’re on the net and for a Texan, just down the road a spell in Austin. I’d encourage you and the Family to perhaps look into the issue a bit more so that, however unwittingly, you don’t wind up taking away with one hand what you have so courageously worked with the other. If you feel I’m over stepping a line, Dina-Marie, I apologize most sincerely. Seeing your son, putting down the “yellow lines”, especially dressed as he was, just made me fly to the keyboard. Believe me, I’m no coddler in any shape or form—I’m probably among the last of a fading generation. Sickness ain’t always bad, you have to make your mistakes, and “nannism” will kill us all yet. But I do have a fairly wide experience and knowlege of such things and so am more sensitive to some consequences—-materially and spiritually. And I thought with all you have done and accomplished some of the “finer” things may have been missed, as so well life confirms so very often. So just thought for charity and kindness, sake to rush into this before I’d forget or get bogged down in some other things as I am easily distracted since some health issues some years ago, myself. I have great respect for what you and your Family are doing and you are often in my humble prayers—–hopefully you wouldn’t mind the wafted incense & a few Latin orations of a Catholic Padre(?)…….Good Luck, Dina-Marie, and I do hope all goes well in every way—and if I seem interfering—-I’m sorry. God bless and keep you all and may He prosper the work of your hands (and backs!) as the good David prayers so often in the Psalms! Sincerely and prayerfully yours, Fr. Vincent J. Young

    • says

      Vincent, I do not in any way feel that you have overstepped you bounds – I appreciate you concern. You are right, it is easy to become shortsighted and miss the “little” things that turn out to be anything but little! I will definitely look at Acres US. John (my husband) was a chemist in our former life and he is very careful with any use of chemicals and especially where the children are concerned. Thankfully, we will not need to spray Treflan probably for 3 more years since it seems to be incorporated very well and protected from the ultraviolet light. This very concern makes the spraying rig so wonderful – the nozzles are just above the ground and since we would only spray Treflan when there is no wind, there is no drift or concern that our son would get into it. John fashioned it after our Bubco sprayer which I have mentioned before – it also sprays very low to the ground. Because it so precisely puts the liquid being sprayed where you want it, we are able to use even less of whatever chemical than the label calls for. Again Vincent, I really appreciate you concern and the time you took to comment – thank you!

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