Barreca Vineyards

Barreca Vineyards

From Vine to Wine since 1986

Nets Up!

Wet Warbler

Wet Warbler

This is the time of year when I am typically at war with the birds, mostly warblers. Once they get a taste of the grapes, it is very difficult to keep them away from them. I have tried flashy objects and a plastic owl with little effect. Other vineyard owners have used scary noises like a propane cannon or recorded sounds of a robin in distress. I gave up on those things several years ago and now use bird nets. Last year, probably because of the fires, the birds were particularly damaging. Many local grape growers got none at all. Because I had most of my vines covered, I was better off although I had to export several birds a day that I caught in the nets. I would typically wet them down with a hose to slow them down enough to catch them and put them in a cat carrier that I use for safe transportation.

This year I resolved to get on it early and completely. I still have a lot of work to do but thought I would pass on some information while there is still time to act. At first I had stiff nets made with sold plastic cross-hatching. They were hard to deploy and were never the right size. Then I went to a kind of knitted plastic net with hexagonal holes. They still were not usually a handy size for rows and the holes were big enough that many birds would get stuck in them and die.

Net Stretched Out

Net Stretched Out

For the past few years I have replaced all of those with row netting from Plantra. Flexnet is 17 ft across and comes in 500 foot pieces. (I just bought 500 ft of it and do not need that much, so if you want less than that, I can share.) The kind I like has white lines running the length of the net that show where the top and bottom is when you drape it over a row. It tends to stetch out longer than the design length and make the width too small to reach the ground on both sides. So to get it to full width I pin it to the ground near one side of the row and pull it out to the other. When folded in half and pulled the width of the row, it is 8.5 ft wide. When I cut it after laying out the net down the whole row, I know that it will be wide enough and long enough.

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

Birds often get in and out of the ends of the rows. I had been pinning the net to fence staples on the end poles of each row. But that was seldom good enough to stop an excaping bird. This year I used an H-style net needle, 3/4 inch by 7 inch, to stich up the ends of each row. My son-in-law Joe Brock brought it down after fishing in Homer Alaska. It fits through the 3/4 inch holes in the net and holds over 20 feet of twine. I found some 20 lb. Beadsmith Hemp Cord that does a great job. It holds a knot well, something that plastic seine twine is not as good at. With the ends sown shut, I can pull the net over the end of the row like a hoodie and take it off again to pick.

Net Installed and pinned down

Net Installed and pinned down

Until this year I had been holding the net to the ground with whatever I could get my hands on, rocks, lumber, poles, firewood. This year I bought some “ground staples” from Plantra. They work well and are much easier to deploy and pick up again.

Tennis Ball Pole

Tennis Ball Pole

One more hint, several years ago, my wife Cheryl, came up with the idea of putting a tennis ball on the end of a bamboo pole to lift the nets over the rows, distribute them and take them down. It works incredibly well! I have a short 4 foot pole and a longer 8 foot one. The tennis balls are knappy enough to catch the net but smooth enough not to get hung up in it.

Ground Staples

Ground Staples

When grape vine tendrils cling to a wire, especially after they have been cut and dry there, they tend to snag the nets. Cut those off when you are pruning to avoid that problem. A pair of prunning shears works better than a knife on that job.

I don’t pretend to know everything about bird nets. Every year I find a better way. Actually this year the wasps and yellow jackets look to be the big problem. More about them later. But if you want grapes, get some nets up. You’ll be glad you did.

Don’t Make Plans

Don’t Make Plans. That seems to be the theme for this past July. The month seemed to be on track for the first week. I picked pie cherries and made a pie (which ended up having a LOT of cherry pits in it) for a 4th of July potluck with our new neightbors. We had planned on having the newest of them, Vern and Vicky Deknicker, who bought the house across the street from us, there. But they had some renovation issues to deal with near Yakima and couldn’t make it.

Kettle Falls Historical Center

Kettle Falls Historical Center

Our first Farmer’s Market of the month went pretty well and afterward I gave Jim Frye a historical tour of the area, which he wrote up on his blog, ProjectWA.org,  Jim is promoting a software application that I have wanted to see for a long time, 468 Insider. The next day, July 7th was great too. Cheryl and I went hunting for giant morel

Giant Morels

Giant Morels

mushrooms and found them along with a nice huckleberry patch that we had not planned on finding.

Then disaster struck. I had been printing and selling a lot of map books, particularly a new one for Ferry County. . On July 8th I walked into the office and red light was flashing on my main printer. There was an error about the ink tray. I took out the ink tray and didn’t find anything wrong. When I put it back in the error changed to an inscrutible error number. No worries! I got out my reserve printer, set it up and turned it on. Another inscrutible error code! It was Friday. The nearest repair shop is 100 miles away. That could wait until Monday.

Grape Nursery

Grape Nursery

Saturday was the “Great Grape Plant Giveaway”. I did give away a lot of wine grape plants. But I still have most varieties. I figured that the ones that had been in pots for two years would have to be given away or thrown away. We also sold some wine and planned on another tasting the next day. Those folks never came, but there was a lot to do including loading up my two broken printers and another one for parts. The repair shop thought they could fix both right away. I was off to Spokane early on Monday and dropped off the printers. Too early as it turned out for my next stop, I arrived at our favorite Italian grocery in Spokane, Cassano’s.  After waiting an hour until it opened and driving off for more shopping I got the call. The printers

"New" Printer on eBay

“New” Printer on eBay

couldn’t be fixed that day. Parts were being ordered.

Getting back home early I hedged my bets by finding another printer online and buying it. It would arrive by the end of the week. My daughter, Bina and her kids had called to say they were arriving that night. They didn’t. But they came the next day and we met her at Bradbury Beach along with a lot of friends and neighbors. We ate a spaghetti dinner using the giant morel mushrooms and it was a big hit.

Kids at the Market

Kids at the Market

On the first day of Bina, Ovid and Nala’s visit, Cheryl and I had our stint at the Farmer’s Market. Bina and the kids caught up with us and we all went to the beach again in the afternoon. That day actually worked basically as planned.

The original plan for July 14th was to revisit the huckleberry patch found on the 6th, but we decided to head straight for the McNully-Freedom Mine which was supposed to have great serpentine, copper and gold. It didn’t. But grandson Ovid Brock did find some rocks to break, and if your main concepts of rockhounding come from Minecraft, breaking rocks is the main thing. We expected to find more huckleberries just up the road from the mine, but didn’t.

Ovid Brock "mining"

Ovid Brock “mining”

Bina and crew were originally expected to leave the next day but we changed plans and revisited the Lone Star Mine along with Tony, April and my other grandson, James. It was a HUGE hit. There were lots of rocks, some of them genuinely collectable. There was an azure blue lake that stories said would coat our tin cans

Kids at the Lonestar

Kids at the Lonestar

(thrown in a month before) with copper. (Story in rockclub news) It didn’t. But it did cover them with a light blue powder.

I got home to learn that one of my credit cards had been hacked and that neither of my printers could be repaired. Then I checked and my plan B printer that had been ordered much earlier had never been picked up for shipping by FedEx. I made sure the seller heard about that and it did get shipped but not until the next week. So with no more books printed to sell at the Farmer’s Market and no way to print the rockclub newsletter, Cheryl and I went huckleberry picking. We did alright and so I went picking again the next day, when I missed seeing my sister Jeannette – who we had not expected to drive by – drove by. I did manage to start a batch of Huckleberry wine, which I plan on having ready in two years (what could go wrong?).

Red bush of huckleberries

Red bush of huckleberries

The printer did finally arrive, except that it was not the one I ordered, which would have been able to print on both sides of a piece of paper. The seller figured out that he could send some replacement computer chips to give it that capability, which he did on overnight FedEx. It did finally arrive the next day, but only after the transmission went out on the FedEx guy’s car and he had to rent another one. And yes, the chips did do the trick. So I did a lot of printing for the next few days.

More things have gone awry in August, but I plan to write about that in September, after watching the Olympics in Rio – certainly nothing will go wrong there!

Memories

Memories (<-link to song)

Dugouts at Mission Point

Dugouts at Mission Point

May be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget

So it’s the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were

Not to get all nostalgia on you, but the theme that seems to tie this month’s string of days together is memories. Perhaps it’s because I think I am getting close to creating something that has been on the drawing board for 8 or 9 years, a history tour that you can take with you on your cell phone. (Notice how they aren’t really cell phones or “Smart phones” any more, they are “mobile devices”.) The trick is that in most places around here there is no cell coverage, so you can’t link to the Internet to get a story about your location. More about the technology later, the thing is there are a lot of stories associated with the places in Northeast Washington that need to be remembered by visitors and residents alike.

Bringing the canoes ashore

Bringing the canoes ashore

None is more central to where we live than the loss of the salmon fishery at Kettle Falls and thousands of years of Native culture that went with it. So it was inspiring on June 17th to be with the people, mostly Tribal, who gathered at Mission Point where St Paul’s Mission was built above the Kettle Falls on the Columbia, to watch newly-carved long dug-out canoes paddled by members of 5 tribes (more really), some of them coming more than 100 miles over 10 days to gather together for the first time in nearly 80 years both to remember the “Ceremony of Tears” when the waters of Lake Roosevelt flooded the falls in 1940 and the salmon stopped running blocked by Grand Coulee Dam, but also to recognize a new hope symbolized by the canoes, built mostly by Tribal youth, that a new International Power Treaty will recognize the need to return the salmon to their spawning beds going far into Canada and that new methods to move the returning salmon past the dams can be effective.

Ceremony of Tears

Ceremony of Tears

Not that that was the only thing that happened in June 2016, but it was powerful to be there when the drumming on the West side of the river was answered by more drumming from our side where a young man was offering a prayer in Salish in a ceremony led by Shelly Boyd, wife of Jim Boyd, the elected head of the 12 Colville Tribes and a world famous musician. We heard him play and sing at the Museum near St Paul’s Mission last winter and 5 days after this ceremony, he died of a heart attack. It was an end and a beginning.

There was also a big reunion on June 5th in Rose Valley where I lived from 1974 to 1984. It fit well into the first

Reunion in Rose Valley

Reunion in Rose Valley

stanza of the lead song “What’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget.” Too many stories for a blog…

April at the Lonestar Pool

April at the Lonestar Pool

Soon after that, June 18th, I celebrated Fathers Day on a traditional rockhounding trip with my daughter April. Unlike some of our past trips, it was fairly successful. We left tin cans in the Lonestar Mine pond hoping to return and find them coated in copper like miners did a century ago. We failed to find the City of Paris cave shown on USGS Topo maps, but we’ll be back and better equipped to check the cans and the cave. Then we explored a rocky meadow near Franson Peak in the rain finding pieces of agate among the wildflowers. Another day to remember…

One last end/beginning was the farewell dinner at Lovitt Restaurant. 7 tasty courses, a bottle of our 5-year-old Lucie Kuhlmann wine, a lot of pictures and a lot of our friends. Norman and Kristen Six and their two daughters,

Norm and Kristen Six

Norm and Kristen Six

Paige and Norma Jean are moving on, but we hope not too far away, to start another restaurant probably in a building that is not over 100 years old and in need of serious repair.

Paige Six

Paige Six

A lot of work was done in the garden, the vineyard and the office in June. All the vegetables are transplanted, the grape crop has gone from the size of BBs to the size of peas and it is big. A new edition of the Road Atlas of Ferry County is out and selling well after over a thousand changes to road lines and addresses. The little pie cherry tree in the front yard gave us over 4 gallons of cherries – some of which are now in a 4th of July pie. We picked 31 pounds of strawberries at Winniford Farm and they are now sliced, frozen individually and 5 gallons bagged up in the freezer. There were very hot days and very rainy ones. But most of that will

Pie Cherries 2016

Pie Cherries 2016

be forgotten when we look back on the way we were.

Strawberries at Winniford Farm

Strawberries at Winniford Farm

M is for May

This blog is brought to you by the letter M.

Morel Mushroom

Morel Mushroom

M is for mushrooms, mainly Morel mushrooms. We have taken 6 mushroom expeditions, mostly in May and most were more successful than the one before. Picking morels is a lot like playing hooky. We have lots of gardening and I have lots of maps to work on. But a million acres of morels is (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Although a million acres burned in Washington State last year, the biggest local fires were the Carpenter Road fire – that was in last month’s blog, the Renner fire, The Graves MT fire and the Stickpin fire.

Tove and DougM is for mistakes and mud. We brought our friends Tove and Doug up to Thompson Ridge Trail in the Renner Fire to introduce them to picking morels. We did find some along the trail, but we were a bit early and they were few and far between. Then it started to rain and we sat it out steaming up the windows in the Rav4 and eating lunch. On a whim, I continued down the road to a lower elevation through a lot of mud. The rain stopped and we hit a sweet spot there and everyone filled up their baskets and bags. Good day on the Renner fire, about 30 pounds between us.

M is for mountain and mistake. On May 13th we worked our way up the south side of Graves MT looking for morels again with no luck and came to a huge pine tree fallen across the road. We were about to turn back when a yellow pickup came up behind us. It turned out to be Jeremiah Jones, the guy who plows our driveway in the Jeremiah tows a logwinter, and his father, Greg. Jeremiah had a chainsaw and a chain, and pretty soon the part of that pine tree blocking the road was over the bank. But we still didn’t find any mushrooms up the hill and went back to the highway, only to find Jeremiah with his pickup broke down. We gave him and his father a ride to Sandy’s Drive In where his wife was working and headed back up Deadman Creek to the other side of the Graves Mountain Burn. We found a few mushrooms and were about to turn back when Cheryl suggested there might be more across the creek. I got one leg completely soaked crossing the creek but there were more morels than I had ever seen on the other side. I picked a basket full but it was so late that we had to leave just as it was getting good.

M is for Meals, and we have had some good ones with all of these mushrooms. But it’s also for maps and the jobs were stacking up for Map Metrics while we were out picking. You might add Marketing, a good M word and I got a start on a Barreca Vineyards Facebook page at the “Digital Day Camp” held at the newly remodeled Kettle Falls Library. But with too many other things going, it is still just a start.

Ben Stout's GraduationM is for Mother’s Day and I spent most of it attending the graduation ceremony of Benjamin Stout, my cousin’s son, from Gonzaga University at the Spokane Arena. Several thousand graduates are impressive, but after 3 hours of listening to names, you get worn down. I had to leave the Stout family and my aunt Mary Jo Rumball-Petre right after the ceremonies, do some shopping and get back for a dinner date with Cheryl, C-Ma Barreca, at Lovitt Restaurant.

Cheryl at the MarketM is for Market and we started selling wine, grape plants, map books and eventually mushrooms at the NE Washington Farmer’s Market in Colville on Wednesdays, something we will do for the rest of the summer. The market has been good except for the (M is for) mistake of not getting the table squared away and watching our full wine rack crash on the pavement one morning. We recovered and now the table is rebuilt and stronger than ever.

M is for Movie and we watched Through the Looking Glass one Sunday.

Slash FireM is also for moisture and we finally got some in the middle of the month. We wasted no time in burning our giant slash pile while it was wet outside. Now it is in the 90’s and dry again.

Cheryl and JeannetteM was for Morels again when my sister Jeannette and her husband, Bill Yake, came over from Olympia to visit with us and April, Tony and James and to pick morels. We hit it big on Long Alec Creek with Bill and Jeannette plus my daughter April and her guys, Tony and James Houston. We were finding fresh morels at 4500 feet and above.

M is for mine and the next day Jeannette, Bill and I struck out to find the lost Cuban Mine that Bill’s great uncle Erwin Yake had developed right across the river from us. We found the mine and a whole lot more. It helps to be into maps and history. It was a lot of exercise and we came back to a dandy meal that Cheryl cooked with morels and asparagus on the side.

Bill Yake at the Cuban MineM is for Music and Monday. Bill and I played music together Sunday night, but we both had a long day scheduled on Monday. So it was a short night.  Monday, before he left, Bill took a picture of a Great Horned Owl in our woods. He Great Horned Owlposted it on facebook with comments about how they eat everything you can think of including house cats. Our cat, Gray-C, did not come back into the house that night. But at 4 AM I found her still in the garden and a couple of (M is for) mouse heads left in the middle of the path. Then I got some sleep.

M is for Memorial Day and we had a great day picking morels with Tove and Doug the Thursday before that weekend. This time we went up Little Boulder Creek. The morels were big and fresh. We started passing up little ones and came home with about 50 pounds between us. By this time we had 2 gallons of dried morels and didn’t need more. So..

M is for Marketing and on Memorial weekend Saturday Cheryl took morels to the Farmers Market. She sold out in 45 minutes and went on to sell plants and map books too (we didn’t take wine). So Cheryl and I picked more morels on Memorial Day even higher on Little Boulder and sold those on Wednesday. But by then we are into June and out of morels.

So there you have it, the Sesame Street version of our Month of May. No more morel mania. I think J will be for June and jobs that I didn’t finish in May.

Emergent Spring Response

Frog in a Flower Pot

Frog in a Flower Pot

The title pun compares the burst of farming activity this April to emergency services. Actually there was a bit of both this last month and an inordinate amount of photos to go with each meaning. So sorry folks, this is a long blog to slog through. We have only had a few fires in the heating stove since April first. Many days have been above 80 degrees. There has been a little more rain than last year, but not nearly enough.

So Spring has been bursting out all over. The bluebirds are back in their cat-proofed bird house. We found a frog sleeping in an outdoor flower pot. Humming birds are demanding sweet water and butterflies, bees and all manner of insects are out and about. Early in the month grapes needed to be pruned and fruit trees dowsed with dormant spray as usual. But I decided to strengthen the trellis on all of my grape vines since many have been sagging under the weight of big harvests and the failing of the bamboo stakes put in the ground 10 years ago. Those have now been replaced with over 200 pieces of rebar bound tight to newly braced and tensioned support wires. This all took much longer than the usual Spring pruning and there was still a lot to do but Cheryl and I needed to get away before an even more intense summer schedule kicked in.  (Link to Spring Album)

Fort Walla Walla Museum is huge

Fort Walla Walla Museum is huge

We left for a whirlwind tour of mostly Northeast Oregon on April 5th. We focused on the basics, wine and chocolate. The first day of our trip we wound our way through the rolling Palouse wheat fields to Walla Walla where we had arranged a tasting pairing chocolate from Petits Noirs, a “boutique chocolatier located in the lush region of the Walla Walla Valley, where vineyards and fruit orchards scale the fertile terroir,” and a selection of wines from Barreca Vineyards. After camping in our 1984 VW/Westfalia Van at the remote Harris County Park with our dog, Gretchen, we spent much of the next day drinking wine and eating chocolate with Lan and James Boulanger, friends of our daughter Bina Brock. Refreshed in body and spirit and having traded a lot of wine for chocolate, we left feeling perhaps a little younger, or maybe just buzzed and wound our way up into the Blue Creek Burn, a 2015 forest fire just outside of Walla Walla. We were too early to find morel mushrooms, but just in time for Spring greens and wild flowers. We camped on a spur off the main road up Klicker Mountain overlooking hundreds of miles of Palouse fields and the twinkling lights of cities and several wind farms.

Klicker Mt Campsite

Klicker Mt Campsite

We awoke the next morning to the sound of a crawler tractor working its way up the main dirt road. A while later a pickup truck came down the mountain and turned off into the meadow where we were camped. It turned out to be 88 year old Bob Klicker, who still owned the mountain. He said we could camp as long as we wanted and we talked about his family’s history there. But we didn’t stay, we wound our way back down the mountain and over to the Fort Walla Walla Museum for a brief visit and then turned south through Milton-Freewater and eventually onto I-82 for a fast trip to Baker, Oregon. We hoped to get to the Forest Service office in time to ask about where to look for mushrooms. But it was closed. As we were about to leave, the last guy out of the office pulled his old pickup back into parking lot. He turned out to be the district ranger and suggested that morels were growing on Dooley Ridge and that the meals were good at a nearby brew pub. After a good meal and driving perhaps the most winding paved road I have ever been on, we found a spot to camp below Dooley Ridge.  (Link to trip photo album)

Gopher Snake in John Day River

Gopher Snake in John Day River

After a cold night and a pleasant but fruitless search through the burned forest for mushrooms, we went back over the winding mountain pass and stopped in Sumpter for supplies. This old mining town had not quite defrosted and roads to any interesting mines were snowed in. We checked out a roadside “museum” of old mining equipment rusting in the sun and then drove on to John Day, Oregon, and the Clyde Holliday Oregon State Park. It had beautiful flowering trees, mowed lawns and paved RV hookups next to the nearly flooded John Day River. It was also nearly full and we pulled into a less-desirable RV slot while we picked out a better one and registered. When we went to move the van, it wouldn’t start, triggering the first real “emergency response” of the month. After moving most of our stuff out to open the engine compartment, I discovered that some rubber air ducts had shaken themselves free of the carburetor. In a short time and without tools, I had them back in place and the van running again. So we drove it to the 1188 Brewery in John Day.

The next day we ate breakfast at the Snaffle Bit restaurant, which turned out to have WiFi service. I caught up on email and filled up on French Toast and sausage while Cheryl talked about Australian cattle dogs with another customer and dined on California eggs Benedict. Then we headed out to the recently built Thomas Condon Paleontology Center and Museum on the Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds. We learned a lot about the evolution of mammals in the 44 million years since the mass extinction of dinosaurs. The very new museum was fascinating and the scenery spectacular. (See album) We returned to Clyde Holliday for the night. About 11 PM a very loud siren went off for a very long time. Cars sped one way past the park

Main Exhibit Hall at Condon Paleontology Center

Main Exhibit Hall at Condon Paleontology Center

then fire engines sped the other way. As the sirens died down coyotes picked up the tune and were soon joined by local dogs. We learned the next day that a cabin had burned in the hills but the family got out safely. (emergency response #2)

We made our way north over Highway 19. This again is a spectacular highway with campgrounds we didn’t know about and stopped at the town of Fossil, OR and the Oregon Paleo Lands Center which according to tourism guides was a jumping off place to a nearby dig where you could find ancient fossilized plants and animals for yourself. But we sat down to talk with the pioneer of fossil collection in Fossil, Karen Masshoff, and learned that the town really did not want to support it’s namesake, heritage or evolutionary science of any kind and that the fossil site was a mess of clay and discarded pieces of rock. We moved on to camp at Cottonwood, “Oregon’s newest campground”. Overnight camping was in the “One Tree” area, which was aptly named for the one old pine tree along the John Day river. It was a windswept and desolate place, especially compared to Clyde Holliday. But it had towering basalt cliffs and a rugged beauty that we enjoyed on an early evening hike. we stayed for the night.

The next day we ate lunch in Condon, OR, perched in wheat fields and a wind farm above the Columbia, then crossed into Washington and did laundry in Goldendale. The drive over the pass into Toppenish went fairly smoothly but on the freeway from Yakima to Wenatchee the van started gasping for fuel again and we barely made it to a rest stop overlooking the Yakima Valley. Examining the carburetor, I noticed that the governor linkage was sticky. Cheryl gave me her trusty can of Ballistol lubricant and I dowsed it liberally until it seemed free. (emergency response #3) From there we drove without incident to Ellensburg and then over Ryegrass Pass to Vantage where we camped at a very spiffy and expensive Washington State campground right on the Columbia River backed up by the

Our van is under the green tree.

Our van is under the green tree.

Wanapum Dam. We parked next to a huge motor home with Alberta plates, a satellite dish and a new SUV towed behind. I couldn’t help but remember the Wanapum name for White people is “Upsuch”, the greedy ones. Just after dark I stepped out on the bluff overlooking the lake and heard children calling for help and crying. I walked over with my headlamp on and gathered together a couple of boys who had misjudged the way back to their camp from the beach. After some talking and walking back to the main campground, I realized that they were from a boisterous group of children with several tents and took them over there. The adults were out looking for the lost boys and the other children sent a couple of kids after them yelling “We found them.” I didn’t wait there for the adults. (emergency response #4) It was an incredibly windy night that sounded like a hurricane. We had to lower the lid on the camper so the canvas wouldn’t tear.

On April 12th, we headed out for breakfast at George and found that Martha’s Restaurant had closed. Moving on to Ephrata and hoping to find a good country breakfast, we drove down a side street to look at a place that turned out to not have hot food and were headed back toward main street when flashing red and blue lights appeared right behind us. A county sheriff pulled us over for not making a full stop. He turned out to be okay, didn’t issue a ticket and recommended the Country Deli as a good place for breakfast although he confessed to us that he had celiac disease and couldn’t eat there. We did and it was perfect. (emergency response #5) We were glad to get home early in the afternoon and deal with things like my 192 new emails.

Morels in the Carpenter Road Fire

Morels in the Carpenter Road Fire

While we had been gone, Spring had emerged bigtime. The vineyard had turned green and the asparagus had popped up. Tulips and lilacs were in bloom as were the cherry, apple, peach and pear trees and the forsythia.  (Link to Spring Album)  The critters were feisty. Gray-C released a mouse in the house a couple days later and a towhee attacked it’s own image reflected in our shiny stove pipe. After one more failed attempt nearby, we picked hundreds of morels in the Carpenter Road wildfire area and ate rib eye steak with morels, garlic and asparagus for dinner.

On the last day of the month I woke up to the sound of what turned out to be a diesel fire truck parked across the street from our place. I walked down there and found out that a 13 year old runaway girl had slept in the grass near our neighbor’s driveway. Someone had seen her lying there and called 911. The local fire department was the first to arrive. One of them talked to her and sat on the ground leaning up against the guard rail with her. She was wrapped in a blanket. Several other firemen talked with each other nearby until a Sheriff Patrol car arrived and drove off with her to the south about an hour later. (emergency response #5). That was the saddest of all. We were glad to be back at our home and she wanted to leave hers for good.

Show Time

RockShow

Peach Blossoms

Peach Blossoms

It’s a rare rainy day this Spring and I am jamming on a blog hopefully before we go on our own Magical Mystery Tour. March has come and gone in a blur mostly due to preparing for and attending two big shows, the annual Panorama Gem and Mineral Club Rock and Gem show and the Colville Home and Garden show. Of course Spring has sprung and all those cozy indoor activities from the winter have given way to the full onslaught of pruning, planting, fencing and paying taxes. At least we only use firewood for warm-up fires in the morning. Also the demand for maps to everywhere has blossomed along with the flowers.

TreasureMapFor the Rock Show I dug into 10 years worth of field trip stories I wrote for the Panorama Prospector, our rock club’s newsletter, to produce a second volume of the very popular “Kettle Country Treasure Maps” that I assembled from the same source in 2006. It was a big success at the Rock Show and That even turned out to be worth all of the extra time I put into it. In fact, I made enough to buy gold, a gold cap for a broken molar that is. So all the money went into my mouth but my mouth is very happy about it.

For the Home Show I updated the Northeast Washington Grape Catalog and brought some of my over 200 potted grape plants. I have been giving a talk at the show about growing grapes but switched it up this year and talked about making wine. It was a lot of work on all fronts, cleaning up the plants, rewriting the catalog and producing a Power Point on making wine. But all the while I CatalogCovercould have been working in the vineyard and doubt that I will go to those lengths for the Home and Garden Show again.

This year I am re-trellissing almost all of over 400 grape vines. I am replacing the bamboo stakes with rebar, bracing the end posts and tensioning all of the grape support wires. After cutting 200 5 foot pieces of rebar, I am still short of Trip 048what I need. All of this is necessary because big crops of grapes have been crushing the original installation. When you harvest a ton of grapes, you take on a ton of work. I’m also proud of a new steel gate on the vineyard made by extending a 50 inch high welded gate up to 78 inches and covering it with field fencing.

Bill King, the drummer at the Woodland Theater and the band Nothing Serious died. Tony Houston has been filling in for him at Woodland Theater while Bill battled cancer. Our neighbor, Pete Mollenberg passed away. But another neighbor family, the Hermans, have a new grandson, Oren. The house across the highway from us sold after 3 years on the Trip 050market. The new neighbors have not moved in yet. Two other neighbors are moving and another couple is building a place just south of us and closer to the river. So there are lots of changes ahead.

2016 Grape Plants

CatalogCoverThe 2016 Grape plants are ready to plant.  You can download the new catalog and see what we have.  It is designed to print on both sides of three pieces of paper but will print on one side if that is easier for you.

You can pick up plants here at the vineyard or this coming Friday and Saturday at the Colville Home Show in the College auditorium, March 18 and 19th.

There is a good crop of Himrod and Canadice table grapes, lots of Foch wine grapes and Gewurztraminer plus many others.  For more fun, call us for a tasting time and taste what you can grow.

Vampire Rated

Click for a video of the pile steaming

Click for a video of the pile steaming

Technically it is not yet spring. But Spring is breaking out all over anyway. Early in February we got a couple inches of snow but not enough to call in a snow plow to clear the driveway. I did call up the plow guy on February 10th to clear a path through frozen snow to Old Blue, our 40 year old Chevy Pickup, so I could help Rick at Quillasascut Farm clear out the goat feeding barn. Three huge truck loads later the barn was clear, there was a ten ton pile of manure next to the garden, and my back was a little sore. Two days later the pile was steaming and my back was more than a little sore.

The Filbert is ready for Spring

The Filbert is ready for Spring

But my back is fine now (after a visit to our chiropractor, Peter Roesler) and the snow is gone. Chickadee’s have started their mating songs. Turkeys are fanning their tails and fighting, grass is rising up from the very flat and wet earth. Tulips are poking up from the flower barrel in front of the house and the filbert trees are adorned with catkins of pollen. Of course all of this means that it’s time to get out and prepare the garden and prune the grapes. Cheryl has leek starts growing inside, but I haven’t quite started pruning yet.

I got the bottle shed organized and now have close to 2000 wine bottles sorted by type, color and size and stored in wine cases ready to wash and scald. I did get three of my best wines from 2014 bottled, Marechal Foch, Luci Kuhlmann and Baco Noir. I also bottled some apple wine from 2012. All of them are wonderful and I got a chance to share some of them with hundreds of people at the Hunger Coalition Dinner, February 26th.Grapes

Another spring cleaning project was to reclaim the wood shop from all the tools and supplies stacked on the floor. There is more to do sorting screws etc. but the shop is ready even if I am not. The office/tasting room bathroom project is done for now and includes new linoleum on the floor. But the office is a bit of a mess because I have been jamming on a new guide to rock hounding hot spots for the annual Panorama Land Gem and Mineral Show, which closed yesterday – and was a big success. And I got the first draft of the chapter in my father’s biography, “Raising a Family”, off to him and my brothers and sisters. If I can get another rock club newsletter done by the end of the week and have the first meeting of the Heritage Network organized by the next week, then I can do the slide show and grape catalog for the Home and Garden Show the weekend after that. Things happen quickly in the spring.

Dad at the BBQ

Dad at the BBQ

Remodeled bathroom

Remodeled bathroom

Having my Samsung Tablet take dictation for my diary has been fun. Sometimes it takes awhile to figure out what I really said. It translated “evaporated milk” as “vampire rated milk”. It called my Pend Oreille County book “pond or a book”. When I talked about visiting Cheryl’s cousin Pat and Allan (her husband ), it wrote “I visited pattern islands”. When I mentioned that while cooking dinner I screwed up the cornbread and kale, it wrote “I screwed up the cornbread and the girl that went with it.” When I said that I put suet in the feeder, it wrote “I put some saw it in the theater.”

The tablet was not the only technology giving us fits. I spent hours with Norton support getting both of our computers on the same plan, but saved over $100 in the process. We spent even more time tracing down all the routers that Providence’s online patient medical information website bounced to before becoming lost. But we got Hughes Net to give us information that we gave to Providence and they not only got us back online, they fixed a problem that scores of other patients were having.PHS-logo

We’ve also been watching episodes of The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan. He “rehabilitates” dogs by training humans to be “calm and assertive”. It’s a lot like Zen. Spring is hectic but don’t worry, be calm, assertive and happy.