I’m trying really very hard to present life here as a completely regimented and sober (pun intended) affair and that the vineyard and winery run like a well oiled machine. In truth, in recent weeks it would be impossible to present it as anything other than a sort of Laurel and Hardy disaster film. And this week has been no exception. In fact, this week has been so utterly delightful that it started with a sort of generally depressed malaise, came perilously close to me dropping everything, nailing a For Sale sign to the gate and reporting to the Job Centre and rallied at the end of the week when we elected to stop worrying about the things that we can’t change and concentrate on the things that we can. Which is code for open a bottle of Chardonnay and remind ourselves why we are here.
I’m getting ahead of myself. The week started reasonably well. I’d begun to start counting down the rows of vines that we have left to prune in our largest field and was relatively happy with the result, we had accepted that the weather wasn’t going to get better any time soon and we had discovered a pretty efficient way of rotating the waterproofs so that one is not obliged to stride out into the fields wearing moist wet weather gear. As an added bonus, the drainage that we installed around the house was also working beautifully. One of the drains was keeping the driveway (which is less like crazy paving and more like compacted stone that was dug out of a neighbour’s field) reasonably dry and the other is ensuring that the contents of the septic tank don’t make their own way out of the tank and into the house via the lavatory. I’m particularly pleased with the driveway drain as it looks and sounds like a little waterfall and ensures that there is no longer a puddle of water sitting on it enticing fully clothed children in as if stocked with mermaids; it was certainly big enough to house a couple.
The only ominous sign of things to come was the wind turbine. Long suffering readers will recall that we live off grid – it’s too far away to economically connect to it/we are saving the planet (delete as appropriate) – and that we have had lots of fun with wind turbines over the years. In fact, problems with the wind turbines have usually presaged problems with the weather. This has historically taken the form of them falling down or to pieces before a shed or a dog or something rolls past the window like a lump of tumble weed. I have been asking myself why we don’t just have more dependable and reliable solar panels and I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think that it has something to do with making a mockery of all weather conditions. To this end, we are considering a water wheel in the vineyard.
Our new and not at all improved wind turbine is slightly different. After a couple of months of fairly efficient output, it is currently disregarding the flotsam careering past it and obstinately pointing in any direction other than the one in which the wind is blowing. By my reckoning, this is technically impossible, but I shall be keeping a close eye on it so I know when to expect and prepare for the next apocalyptic storm.
Wednesday was when it really started to warm up a bit. That’s a bad analogy, um, I’ll make one up. Wednesday was when it really started to apocalyptic up a bit. The previous weekend I had put all of the wine through the first two grades of filter and, having taken a look at the state of the weather forecast, decided to spend the day doing the final filtration on one of the whites and to get it into bottles. I felt vindicated in my decision as the wind whipped up and the rain started to fall sideways while I remained warm and dry in the winery. Which feels better than you might think given the last few weeks.
I had everything in place and was even employing a novel new technique for filling the bottling machine and was feeling fairly smug when I noticed that the large generator that powers the winery equipment had started to make some alarming noises. I rushed out to turn it off, but had cleverly locked it up away from the elements and couldn’t find the key. By the time that we located it, one of its alternators was well and truly cooked and there was lots of wine in the wrong place. Specifically in a bottling machine, and not safely back in the tank waiting for the generator to be fixed.
By the time that we had managed to get the wine back where it belonged, it was time for lunch. Our route back home took us past the shed that we rescued from the undergrowth at the back of the field we live in and spent some money on last autumn. It now has a substantial (okay, over-engineered) wooden frame to hold the walls up that was doing absolutely nothing in terms of keeping the roof on. Quick as a flash, I ran into the shed and grabbed a drill and some screws to keep it attached (for it is the shed in which we keep the tools), noticed that everything looked even more alarming inside the shed and then that the battery on the drill was flat. Know how a watched pot never boils? Pots have nothing on charging drill batteries when you are taking turns to hold the roof on a shed. But it did eventually charge, and we did eventually get it secured in such a way that the whole edifice is going to have to blow away in one big lump if it intends to move itself again. Which I don’t entirely discount.
No matter, having enjoyed some lunch, I thought that I would go back and take a look at the generator and attempt to ascertain whether the not very expensive alternator or the very expensive alternator was the cause of appalling smell that was emanating from it. This necessitated a jump start, and as the land is so utterly wet, I fired up our archaic off road pickup to get it going. I probably don’t have to tell you that in short order the generator remained off and had a flat battery, and that the pick also acquired a flat battery and now needs a jump start. Quick as a flash, I grabbed a bottle from the winery and turned the heating on in the house.