We descended on the vineyard early and hung over on a Saturday morning, and by descended I mean we had to take three runs on the snowy driveway in an Acura equipped with the eternal lie that is “all-season” tires. Our goal was to build the fence of “too little, too late” to prevent deer from finishing off our already ravaged vineyard. We decided to build this fence not with real building materials, but with deadwood and broken dreams… and twine. Its design was to be simple and elegant, a palisade of Norse quality where from its ramparts we could watch the deer in their Sisyphean struggle to break our stalwart defenses. That didn’t work out. What ended up happening is we took the most basic, medieval, and brutal instruments we could find to hack and slash our way to something that would stand so long as the breeze didn’t take it just right. We burst from the barn armed with axes and mallets to run across the snow covered ground and slaughter the brush with our raw manliness. On the first swing of unadulterated testosterone, the axe handle shattered into a thousand pieces of “Oh come on! SERIOUSLY?!?” and it only got more productive as the day went. Splinters flew, expletives spewed, and the wood erected (teehee) with only a few inches planted into the ground to keep the posts from swaying. We were proud, although the end result could only be classified as a fascination to deer rather than a real deterrent.
I had real trouble with the title of this blog, I half considered Alice in Wonderland’s “off with their heads!” or even a more mundane “a little off the top”. You see, we discovered that vineyards have an undo button. If the vines haven’t grown enough during the first season either due to climate conditions, incompetence, or general waywardness, you can just snip away your mistakes. A quick googling told us that the vines should have reached at least 30” in the first year, some did, some would have, others preferred to slack off in the back and jeer. Anything that didn’t make it to 30” had to be cut down nearly to the base so that each would have only three bulbs on it. The idea being that the plant will have another shot next year with a better established root system. With a single tear and a slow swallowing of pride, we cut each vine down. We half considered making a laurel crown out of the remains but that’s usually for victory, and this was hardly victory.