Barreca Vineyards

Barreca Vineyards

From Vine to Wine since 1986

The Three Cat Problem

and other issues…

It was September 24th as near as I can tell when the Barreca Vineyards website crashed along with several others hosted by my friends Scott and Elaine at Secure Webs. An upgrade to their web management software nuked quite a few sites that I manage.  Although I got them running again, I didn’t notice immediately that Scott had restored Barreca Vineyards from his company’s backup.  That backup turned out to be from early July.  It contained its own backup system which immediately overwrote all more recent backups which meant that before I could post anything new, I had to repost everything on the site added since July.  I didn’t get around to doing that until today (November 11th).

Our Market Booth

With the Farmers Market, wine harvest and a lot of orders for Map Metrics, nothing changed on the site for 3 ½ months. The market and harvest have been finished for a couple of weeks and now I am finally cutting through the backlog to write another blog.  Let’s just write it off as another supply chain problem.

So now it is pretty-much winter.  The smoke is long gone. The drought is gone.  The leaves on the trees are almost all gone. The “holidaze” are coming on.  It’s high time to crank out a blog before it becomes time to write a Christmas newsletter.

Pete and Joe

In the “Under and Orange Sun” blog I show our neighbors’ cat, Pete, sleeping with my visiting daughter, Bina and grandkids.    Earlier in the year we had a stray cat arrive who we called Spicy.  She was loud and pushy but loved food and people – pretty much in that order.  Also she got along with our dog, Gretchen. Our old cat, Gray-C, was not thrilled and dead set against Spicy or Pete entering the house.  Pete is very much a scaredy cat when it comes to Gretchen or Spicy but not Gray-C. Those are the 3 cats in the problem.  (In the physics world the “Three Body Problem” has to do with moving masses of gravity affecting each other and the chaotic mathematics that ensues if not given enough data. This was a little like that.)

We had a temporary fix when I put a cat door on the office.  Spicy could get in.  We fed her there and she seemed to love it.  But she kept trying to get into the house.  Gray-C was no match for her in size, but Gray-C can be very loud which brings people running to defend her and keep Spicy out of the house.

In the middle of the summer, friends came to the rescue by adopting Spicy, renaming her Cosmo (actually more fitting for her personality) and setting up food and shelter at their place several driving miles away from here. That allowed Pete to move into the office where he sleeps during the day and goes back to his real home at the neighbors for food during the night. He sometimes tries to get into the house but is easily discouraged. 


This worked well until August 19th when the cat came back.  It turns out that several miles by car is only about a mile as the cat goes through the woods.  Cosmo (AKA Spicy) chased Pete out of the office and would have damaged him severely if I had not held Cosmo off with a hose while Pete scuttled back to the neighbors. We enticed Cosmo into the office with food and locked her there until her new “owners” could pick her up.


That worked for about another month until one morning I walked into the office to find Cosmo and not Pete.  Since then I have driven Cosmo back “home” several times to the sound of loud complaints and a restless pacing around the car.  She seems to feel good when released back home and has not shown up in this wet weather for awhile.  But a surprise appearance and ensuing chaos seems to always lurk around the corner.

Since last writing any kind of blog, I have managed to get older.  Daughter, April hosted a 74th birthday party at her house which was much appreciated.  I was glad to see improvements around her place since she and Tony bought it this summer.  Since then April also bought a used hybrid Toyota Rav4.  I’m totally jealous but still unreasonably loyal to my own 21-year-old gas-powered Rav4.  Birthday presents included a digital microscope.  I am eager to use it but must confide that I have not found the time since September.

Joe with April and James

Time, a constant theme of this blog, has opened up a little since the farmers market ended the day before Halloween.  Grape harvest and wine was still going on.  The market was very good for us this year.  We have some regular wine customers.  We like our fellow marketers and the food they bring.  The harvest went well basically but was a little smaller than I hoped.   The extremely hot dry summer gave way to a wet fall making for a smaller crop that ripened late.

The hot weather built up demand for white wines.  We are almost sold out of those.  Meanwhile it made many of the red wines look to still be working since the wine expands when it is warm.  The upshot is that there are almost 200 gallons of red wines ready to bottle.  They go back to 2017.  You could look at it as job security.

Lucie Kuhlmann Grapes

Not that I need more work.  The map business was good.  Fire fighters wanted maps.  Even COVID inoculators wanted maps.  Making maps is a good winter activity.  Many of mine have not been updated for too long.  (Did I mention the time crunch here?)  So I did the obvious thing and got involved in another big project.

Actually I was volunteered for this project.  Hudson’s Bay Fort Colvile (no it’s not Fort Colville) was founded in 1825.  The bicentennial is coming up in 4 years.  Most people would write this off as more “old stuff”.  Maybe some of you have noticed that with all the conflicts of 2020 and 2021 a lot of history has been re-examined and brought back into the conversation about who we are and how we got to be this way. 

The two most important salmon fishing locations on the Columbia River were Kettle Falls and Celilo Falls for thousands of years.  Both are now submerged behind hydroelectric dams.  As such, Kettle Falls was the annual summer gathering place for local Native American tribes from hundreds of miles around.  Hudson’s Bay fur traders decided to capitalize on the location without really admitting that they were doing anything more than starting a farm. They established a fort charged with providing food for the whole network of trading posts west of the Rockies and loading boats with furs to take down the Columbia and bring back trade goods while getting a tremendous unacknowledged boost from the natives gathered at the falls.

They built the boats here too using the skills of Métis, mixed blood French and Indian voyagers, who designed and maintained the boats and paddled thousands of miles each year to sustain the fur trade.  The fort, the characters and the colonization create a fascinating tapestry of intertwining stories.  They are the cultural heritage of the peoples who have lived here the longest, most of whom have both Native and European ancestry.

To preserve the history and open the conversations around this event I have created a web site which keeps expanding with new discoveries and the legacies of people searching for their own history.  It is time-consuming and sometimes exhausting work but perhaps the most important thing I do.  Grapes and wine will come and go.  Promoting Regenerative Agriculture, accurate maps, biochar and additive-free wine is important, fun and sometimes profitable. But in the longest run, bringing our local heritage to life again in the minds and activities of everyday people will affect generations to come.

So forgive me if communication has been a little slow.  New challenges and crises, like cats, come up every day.  There are plenty of good things to do and share. And I’m glad to be able to do and share them with so many good friends and family.   

One Response to The Three Cat Problem

  1. Joe and Cheryl! Enjoyed hearing about your fall. Grapes, maps, cats! Hang in there.


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