He Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy!

Kubota 8540 Narrow Tractor

I got a new toy!

It is one you probably would not expect me to buy!

But, I did.

I even went  and talked with the salesperson by myself.

Now, I’m not sure what you have guessed my new toy to be but, if you guessed shoes, purses, clothes or a new kitchen gadget, you would be wrong!

 

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How to Get Rid of Bladder Infections Naturally

How to get rid of Bladder Infections Naturally

Talk about the pits!

Yes, a bladder infection is the pits!

If you have ever had one, you know exactly what I mean – burning, pain and the feeling that your insides are gonna fall out when you “go”, “potty”, “tinkle” or whatever term you use!

I haven’t had too many bladder infections but I did have one recently and my stand-by remedy, drinking cranberry juice, did not work! Of course, it happened on a weekend which turned out to be a blessing because had I been able, I would have gone to the doctor! Instead, I found a  natural remedy for bladder infections that worked like a charm!

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Making Wine at Home from Montepulciano Grapes

Montepulciano Grapes

Grape harvest is the most exciting time of year for us – it is the culmination of the year’s work! When the mechanized harvest  is complete, most of the grapes are gone; but not all. During harvest with our Pellenc grape harvester, the first and last plants of each row are partially missed as the shakers are turned on and off. Thus, a few clusters of grapes are normally left on those vines. Also, every now and then, an arm of the cordon hangs lower than planned (usually because it is loaded with fruit) and gets missed by the shaker bars (positioned to pick the bulk of the fruit at 3-5 feet off the ground).

So, since all the family enjoys drinking our wine and John enjoys making it, once we are finished harvesting a variety, everyone has to tote a 5 gallon bucket and with clippers in hand,  off we go.

That is exactly what we did after the last Montepulciano grape harvest – we gleaned grapes!

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Why I Say “No” to a Smartphone

 

3 reasons I say no to smartphones 600

As you read the title, you may have thought, “who in their right mind would say “no” to a smartphone in this age of technology?”

The answer – Me!

Not that I haven’t been tempted. First there is the convenience of a computer at your fingertips. Then there is accessibility. Not to mention peer pressure – sometimes I feel that I am the only mom in the world without one!

It does make me feel better to know that I am not the only non-smartphone carrying mamma – did you know that two thirds of Americans own smartphones? The average American spends 34 hours/month using mobile apps and browsers – that is a lot of time![Continue Reading]

How to Protect Yourself Against Ebola

How to Protect Yourself From Ebola

The news is filled with reports of the Ebola virus.

Fear is definitely in the air!

With its appearance in the US and yet another confirmed case of the Ebola virus here in Texas, the big question on everyone’s mind is “how to protect yourself from Ebola?”

The Ebola virus as certainly been the topic of quite a few of our family’s conversations the last couple of days! Even our younger children are concerned and as parents, we are trying to answer their questions honestly without raising alarm – that can be challenging! It is especially challenging with the conflicting and changing information that is coming our way!

Before I go any further, I want to say that  propagating fear is not my intention but I want to encourage you to think for yourself, be aware and be prepared. Sometimes simple awareness and being prepared makes a big difference in the outcome.

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Wine Making at Home

crushing grapes tips and tools winemaking

One day, the plan is to open our own winery!

Someday.

But, not today!

For now  we are content to make wine with our own grapes at home  – hobby wine makers, that’s us!

Making wine was the planned activity for Monday – to glean the Roussanne grapes which were left after harvest and begin the wine making process. The first and last plants of each row are always left without being harvested because they are so close to the end post. The Pellenc grape harvester is turned on and off over these plants which means even after harvest, we still have some grapes to eat or to make wine with!

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From Texas to Maine

Gateway Arch As I mentioned last week in Oswald Vineyard May/June, a lot has happened in the past few months, one of which is a family vacation. As you might guess, we take very few getaway trips and when we do, we normally visit family in Georgia. Which, by the way Mom, we are planning to do later this summer!

Not that we need an excuse for a vacation, but if we did, the wedding of a niece in Maine was the perfect one. Years ago, when John had a “real” job, he had a 6 week business trip to the Boston area. Having only 5 children at the time, ages 8 mths – 7 yrs, we all went. The children and I did a lot of site seeing. We visited places like the Boston Children’s Museum of Arts and Science, Plymouth Plantation, and probably the highlight of the trip, the Armor Museum in Worcester, MA. Needless to say, we had a blast and made a lot of great memories which I wanted to relive now with the children still at home.

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Oswald Vineyard May/June 2014

Oswald Vineyard June 2014

When I last posted in March, Change is Good, I had no intention of continuing Cultured Palate. What you might ask, has changed?

Well, I am still very much enjoying being more concentrated on and more  accessible for my family. But, I have been touched by the emails, comments and questions about what is going on with us now. So, I thought I would revisit those of you who have taken the time to get to know our family with periodic updates.

A lot has happened in these few months – we have a new milk cow, took a 5000+ mile trip to Maine (in our 15 passenger van) and have a new vineyard toy imported from France – but, I will tell you more about all that later!

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Drilling a New Well

drilling rig set up and drilling

The time has come to drill a new well. In the almost 6 years that we have lived here in west Texas, our water levels in each of the wells have dropped. Unfortunately, it is not just us, it is everyone in this area. When we bought the land in 2007, there were already 3 wells on the property. At that time, after test pumping to see how much water they could produce, we put submersible pumps down 2 of them.

In 2008, we began the vineyard and could continuously irrigate 10 acres at a time, pumping more than 120 gal. per min. Now, the wells refill rate allows us to irrigate only five acres semi-continuously, pumping ~50 gal. per min.

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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!

Wrong.

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…

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