Barreca Vineyards

Barreca Vineyards

From Vine to Wine since 1986

Pruning, Plumbing, Politics and Pestiferous Pets

The pruned grapes are starting to bud out

It started out like a normal April. I was doing a lot of grape pruning and planting cuttings as I went. We had just had our first artichoke dinner the night before and temperatures were starting to stay above freezing. To verify the temperature I started comparing our analog (alcohol-filled) thermometers with our digital one. Then with each other because they were saying that the temperature was below freezing but unfrozen puddles of water outside did not confirm that. Turns out none of them agreed exactly with each other. So I ordered a highly-acclaimed thermometer from LaCrosse. Its indoor and outdoor sensors did not agree when they were together indoors! LaCrosse claims that they are within tolerances. Maybe I’m just intolerant.

Extra Water Heater

Things went from bad to worse when although not freezing, the water Cheryl ran for a bath on April 8th never got warm. I jumped into action, drained the water heater, cleaned several gallons of lime-rust sludge out through the cleanout port and went to take the elements out so I could get them replaced. They would not budge. Last year I had to take a water tank to Colville where a plumber used a socket wrench with a big cheater on it to break the element loose while I held the tank. It was a Saturday and some friends who are moving to Colville invited us to see their place. So we drove to Colville around the detour for “Lake Colville” (which is starting to look like hay fields again), got to the hardware store before it closed and bought the best heater elements they had. But they sent me across the street to the auto-parts store to get a decent socket for changing the elements. As soon as I walked in and the clerk took one look at the sorry element wrench that the hardware store sells and said “You need a 1 1/2″ socket for your water heater.” Evidently this happens all the time.

Repaired Stand Pipe

The socket worked and with the new heating elements installed I thought I was on a roll, till 2:44 AM the next morning when the heater overheated and scalding hot water came out of the popoff valve on the top and flooded the floor. Ten days and many more incidents later the water heater was fixed and I turned on the water system to the garden and vineyard. Gusher!!! Apparently dropping a large pine tree on a stand pipe does underground damage as well as above ground. Three days later that was fixed; I was finished pruning the grapes; and I was able to spray dormant spray on the grapes and trees.

Mary’s Party

So plumbing was a kind of running (or not running) theme for most of the month. On Easter we had another memorable party at Mary Selecky’s. She gave us a couple of easy chairs that she was replacing. As soon as they were installed in our house, our cat Gray-C moved in. A cat’s idea of a good home is a little different than ours. A few times this month she tried to have a late night snack on our bed. One night Cheryl alerted me that something was going on and I jumped up and grabbed a flash

Gray-C’s new spot

light only to see a dead gopher on my pillow. Another night I woke up in time to take a shrew outside before it got too bloody but woke up later with a half-eaten bird on top of me. Gray-C is really excited to have the snow gone and longer days for hunting. Me, not so much.

But at least those are natural, fixable problems. On the 19th I joined a protest at a fund raiser for our Congressional Representative, Cathy McMorris Rogers. If you want to talk to her, you need to pay $40 a plate to fund her next

Local Protest

campaign. She doesn’t have time for town hall meetings. Three days later Cheryl and I joined the March for Science in Spokane. Today Trump fired half the scientists in the EPA and will replace them with stooges from the chemical companies. These problems won’t be fixed this month.

Science March

But we are eating asparagus from our garden and even found morel mushrooms in there too! The temperature was over 70 degrees today. It was warmer outside than inside. We are not building fires in the stove every day (and we are almost out of firewood). We have started selling wine and map books again at the Farmers Market. The seasons have changed and we still have not taken a vacation.

2 Responses to Pruning, Plumbing, Politics and Pestiferous Pets

  1. Geez and I thought our broken toilet was exciting!

  2. always fun to read about ‘life at the winery’ … you have a great way with words … empathy and sympathy with water troubles … been there done that … at least for me it was at a warmer time of year and the accompanying floods dried up quickly


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