Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Young Oak Vineyards - Volume 35: More Summer Fun!

Hi all:

Well, summer is in full force here at Young Oak Vineyards! That means almost everyone has "flown the coop", leaving only Kris & I to tend the vines. Suzie, our youngest, is currently at Camp Full Belly Farms, an organic farm up in the Capay Valley near Davis, California. Katie, our older daughter, is making up for past sins at summer school in between runs to the beach, a couple of summer concerts and hangin' with friends. Scott, our oldest, visiting from Finland for a friend's wedding, has extended his holiday stay stateside for a couple of weeks playing "Man Versus Wild" at survival camp in Utah! Can't wait to hear about gutting the sheep with his new Laplander knife and then roasting mutton under the stars!

Goat Update:  As you probably can tell, Ellie is pregnant, again!  Yes, Big Mac has had his way with Ellie and we are expecting the arrival of another batch of goats in July or early August. We have currently separated Big Mac, so as not to impregnate the little ones, which are 7 months old now, old enough to be very young mothers! I will be talking to our vet about tying some tubes, so we can avoid this in the future. We are going to limit our herd to 6 (or even less), so if you are interested in a pet goat, give me a hollar!

I'll be going under the knife tomorrow for a hip replacement (some congenital developmental joint problem), so wish me luck!  My daughter, Suzie, has put a great positive twist on my situation as I have let my beard grow out a bit for the summer and I will be using a cane for a while after my operation as I limp around.  Given my ascerbic sense of humor, I can play "House", that is "Dr. Gregory House", the grumpy, insolent diagnostician we all know & love!

Wishing you a great summer, John

Monday, June 15, 2009

Young Oak Vineyards - Volume 34: School's Out For Summer!

Hi all:

Happy Summer everyone!  You'll never meet an happier person than a teacher after the last day of school!  And especially one that is not teaching summer school!  Woohoo!!

Well, lookey here! My hand is behind a couple of baby bunches of verdant grapes!  And every grapevine in the vineyard has dozens of them as well!  So, it looks like we will be getting a substantial amount of grapes this Fall, assuming we protect them from the birds! Hey, this means there maybe some grape stompin' at our Oktoberfest!  But what we really want to happen this growing season is for our newly established grapevine trunk to put out those lateral cane shoots we call "cordons".

If you didn't see it, my good friend, Keith Newman, posted a comment on my last post about goats & vineyards.  Keith says, "Michel-Schlumberger Vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley hires a shepherd with pygmy goats/sheep for weed control. The animals are too short to reach the cordons, so leave the grape vine undamaged. When Stacie and I took the vineyard tour we found some little tufts of wool snagged on the grape vine stems."  

Hey, thanks Keith!  I love it!  It sounds like they planned the whole scheme.  I do see that big commercial vineyards tend to construct their trellises very tall, over six feet high to increase the vine growth volume.  We got our goats as an after thought to starting our vineyard.  And unfortunately, I had already installed our trellis's first wire only three feet off the ground.  Also, my so-called "pygmy goats" can reach branches that are four feet or higher off the ground by standing on their hind legs, jumping, climbing on top of each other or on their poor mother's back!!  (I can never get my camera fast enough to catch one of the kids standing on all four on top of Mom!)  I'm just going to have to play with this idea a bit more!  Hmmm!!!  Might have to get taller grapes, ..., or, ..., shorter goats!

From down in the vineyard, Maaaaaaa!!!!  Hey, get out of here you pesky goats!

P.S. - My good friend, Keith Newman, is training for a marathon team to help raise money & awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).  Keith is well on his way towards his goal, but every penny helps.  If you can help out, please use the link below to donate online and to learn more about the great things LLS does for cancer research, patients and their families:

Perhaps your employer has a matching gift program?  If so, please consider that option as well.  Donations to LLS helps accelerate finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma & myeloma. More than 823,000 Americans are battling these blood cancers!

Thank you, John