27 May The Art of Tearing Stuff Up
Recently, I along with my merry band of Del Rio Hooligans have been working on a bit of an undertaking. We’ve started turning one of the oldest cattle ranches in Oregon into a vineyard. This historic homestead, Birdseye Ranch, has been quietly sitting between Gold Hill and Rogue River for over a hundred and fifty years. Opportunity came, was grabbed, and put square to work as soon as possible. In any case the DR Hooligans are hard at work putting together a beautiful vineyard on the Birdseye Ranch and I thought I’d take this time to explain how such an operation is done and what goes in to it.
First, like Morgan from The Walking Dead “we clear”. After getting a rough idea of where we wanted to plant, we began clearing brush, wood, rock, fencing and everything else that’s not of use anymore or in the way. For this ranch that meant a CRAZY amount of blackberry bushes. On that note, I would like to take this moment and apologize to all the good people along Foots Creek and Birdseye Creek. There might have been a day where we blocked out the sun with all those brush piles. My bad! I get a little carried away when it comes to fire. However after many weeks of loading rocks and wood the fields of Birdseye are finally starting to look clear and my oh my how nice the old bird cleans up.
Now, a big thing that needs to be thought about when putting in any permanent installation like grape vines is water flow. When it rains all that water has to go somewhere and if there’s a low spot in the middle of a hundred acres, that spot is going to turn to a swamp. So we work the ground. Little fill here, little fill there and bata bing bata boom everything is flowing nicely downhill. While we do that, we’re also ripping and disking the ground to fluff it up and get oxygen down into the ground to help the grapes roots go nice and deep. Now that sounds easy (and it is) but it takes sooo looooonng. First you disk everything (160 acres) and that takes a week. Then we disk it again to really fluff it up. After that we get the D8 and stick two 3 foot shanks into the ground and rip the whole place 3 times. Then we go back and disk it two more times to smooth out were the ripper piled up dirt. Then finally we pull a float to really flatten out the ground and smooth everything out. So yep that’s about 3 months of my life I’ll never get back. Well, no, not really. Lots of guys swap around and the disk and ripper are running independently. But still, it’s a lot of ground to cover and takes a long time. Hopefully all this will result in some really happy grapes that get to grow in nice loose soil.
The rest of the project in front of us includes the irrigation, the trellis, and of course the little baby grape plants. All of that stuff is moving slowly down the pipe, along with all the little random things that I haven’t mentioned. Putting in these grapes is going to be a lot of work but the DR Hooligans are on the job and most days I actually think we know what we’re doing. So wish us luck in the months to come! If you are fortunate enough to see that dust bowl that is Birdseye right now…just picture it with grape vines flowing green over the hills and you’ll see what we’re trying to accomplish.
Love, your Captain of Awesome (Clayton Wallace)