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!


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!


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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Homecoming and Harvest Preparation

Before I tell you how close harvest is, let me just say, it is so good to be home!

Don’t get me wrong – I had a wonderful visit for 10 whole days in Macon, Georgia with my mom (aka Mimi) and my sister (aka EC). But, you know the saying, “there is no place like home!”.

Mimi and EC

We had fun just spending time together not to mention all the eating we did! We went to a favorite hometown cafeteria, the S & S Cafeteria, three times! Yep, you read it right, 3 times. And, each time I ordered the liver and onions. It was just that good! We also visited the Grits Cafe in Forsyth, Ga. and the Cheesecake Factory in Atlanta. Before you ask, I did order (and eat) the Turtle Chocolate Cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory but only after a salad! No regrets, just indulgence.

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Laughter is the Best Medicine

Laughing bear

How many times have you heard, “Laughter is the best medicine”?

Many think it is a biblical quote. While the actual quote is not found in the Bible, the origin of laughter as the best medicine is found in Proverbs 17:22 –

A joyful heart is good medicine,

But a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Movies and videos are one source of laughter for our family. It never ceases to amaze me how our children can see a movie one time and memorize the lines – from that one viewing! A favorite game played while doing vineyard work is the movie line game. While I am not very good at it, it is fun to listen to the children bounce from one line to another playing off the previous comment.

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Photography Class

west Texas sunset

After finishing the greenhouse EIFS  we began the EIFS on the barn. But, I have decided to make you wait to see pics until it is completed rather than give you bits and pieces at a time!

So, in the meantime, I thought I would share my newest project – photography classes!

After last year’s grape harvest, my splurge was a camera. Not just any camera – a nice one! I bought a refurbished Nikon D90. I knew this camera was way more camera than I knew what to do with but I wanted to learn.

Now, I am not a techie by any stretch of the imagination! If it weren’t for John and the children teaching and helping me, I would be lost! So, as I read through the camera manual, all I could think was, “I can’t do this” or “I can’t figure it out!”

But, 4 weeks ago I started an online photography class through Institute in Photographic Studies. I am not only learning about all the different buttons and menus on my camera (and how to use them) but also about composition, lighting, shutter speed, aperture ….

I actually know and understand what those words mean – I am so excited!!

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YEAH – The House Sold Party!

Al house sold

If you have been around for awhile, you know that we moved from Alabama a little over 5 years ago. We left a very comfortable lifestyle (thanks to corporate America) to relocate in west Texas and start a vineyard.

Unfortunately, our nearly 5,000 sq ft home about 40 minutes from Mobile was put on the market just in time for the housing crash.

And, there it sat!

For a little over 5 years that beautiful house – our dream house, the one we were to grow old in – sat unsold!

But, in a quick flurry, the right person came along and it sold!!!

Now, we are Texans for good – hopefully!

So, this past weekend, we had a “Yeah – the House Sold Party”!

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