Thursday, April 29, 2010

Last week of April

The week was over before I knew it and I woke up today for my one day off. Brigitte, Sizzo, and all of the students were away this week. Sizzo and Brigitte went to the USA, where Sizzo delivered a lecture at a college. All of the students went on a week long trip to Venice, where they learned about Pound and explored the city. The days were spent working long hours and living at Brunnenburg with less people. I will list a few things that I did this week.
Every year it is expected that some vines will not survive. There can be many different reasons but in the end these dead plants need to be replaced. You do not want to waste the space that these plants take up but also you do not want a possible diseased plant to remain among the living. Jane and I were given the task to replace all of the dead GoldMuskateller with some new young vines that Nik purchased. There were about 30 dead vines scattered throughout the vineyard. One of the afternoons this week was spent putting 15 of these new vines into the ground.
Jane and I followed with all the supplies pictured below, including a watering can and blue bucket
To start off the task, Nik went through the vineyard and put a piece of metallic tape above each vine that had to be replaced. He also put some tape above spots that did not have a vine but needed one.
We would first dig up the old vines with a pic and shovel. We would carefully dig beside the vine and go as deep as possible without destroying it. It is important to try and get all of the vine out in one piece.
Once the vines were out, the new one could be put in. The hole had to be a certain depth, so the vines were almost completely covered up with dirt
Pouring water into the hole
Once the hole is ready you put the vine in and add a generous amount of water, filling the hole up. It is important to water anything that is newly transplanted to help give it fighting chance in this new environment. The water also helps the roots to grow into the soil and settle in for the long haul.
You let the soil soak up some of the water and then fill the hole up with dirt. Once this step is complete, you have transplanted yourself a vine. I also did this task at another part of farm later in the week with a different kind of vines.
A few weeks back the Students dug a trench through the apple orchard down to the main house system. Nik was tapping into another water supply to help regenerate their tanks when needed. This meant connecting a pipe from all the way up on the road, right down to the chicken coop. The trench was dug then Nik got the hose. Two workmen from the area, Walter and Alphonse were at the farm to help us with the task. We uncoiled both the hoses and led them down the trench. They had to go under the road and the path leading to Meran. Once all the connections were made, we could then fill up the trench with dirt. I worked on it with Jane and Nik sporadically through out the week until most of it was finished. There is still a small portion that has to be worked on at the very end.
Cement covering the hole on the trial
Hoses being covered with dirt
The trench, apple trees to the sides
Two small tasks that I also worked on were wiring trellising and cleaning up some fertilizer. Some of the trellising in the GoldMusakteller only had one wire going across, while they usually have three. I would stay at the end of the row while Nike went down the row with some wire. We would use the machine pictured below to help with the process. Nik would put the wire where it was needed and then cut it. These are the same wires that I had to clean and tighten last week. Nik also showed me how to tighten a few other wires that I did not know how to do.
The device held the wire and spins as the wire is pulled
The next few pictures that show how you would tighten the trellising, some of the pictures are poor quality.
You first undo the wire and make it loose again
Then you pull the wire tight against the post
After you wrap it around itself, making the wire tight
Here's Nik doing it
A picture of the post and the tractor in the back
A few weeks back we added some fertilizer to the GoldMuskateller, but the fertilizer was too concentrated on one spot. We went through this before with our hands to clean it but it was not enough. So we went through with some hoes and really worked the fertilizer out.
Three big hoes, a small rake, small hoe, and sickle
The vines are putting on leaves and growing
Close up of the vines

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Back to work

I returned from my vacation last Sunday well rested. I went down to Naples with Robbie and Jordan, for 10 days of adventure. We also visited two islands, Procida and Ischia. Both of the islands had a lot to offer and I took full advantage of it. This was a good opportunity to get a taste of Italian culture and explore the different aspects of it. In the brief time that I was there, I can now see why South Tyrol has autonomy from the rest of the country. The German influence sets it apart from the rest of Italy. Although the trip was fun, I was glad to be back to Brunnenburg and to get back work.
Procida, small island about 45 minutes away from Naples by Ferry.
Statue of Hercules
Street below our hostel in Naples
Sunset on Procida
Ferry Ride to Procida
Church in Naples
Naples was by far one of the dirtiest city I have ever visited, trash was thrown everywhere.
Pizzeria da Michele, run by the same family for 29 generations.
One of the best cheese pizzas I have eaten
Beach on Procida
My traveling partners, both pictures taken at Pompeii
I got back to Brunnenburg Sunday, which gave me the whole day to rest up and get ready for work tomorrow. While we were gone, the apple trees bloomed and the vines started to grow. Now that the vines are growing, they will soon require more work to produce some fantastic grapes.
On my first day back to work and my first task was cleaning up the recycling that has piled up. This essential task is carried out every few weeks when the bins start to over flow. As you can see in the picture below, the bins were at full capacity. As Nik goes through and makes sure everything is in the right bin, he then passes them to me. I take the bins and put them in the trailer that is hooked up to Niks car. When all of the bins are out of the garbage room, we take them to the local recycle center and dispose of them. This is not the most glamorous job, but it is up to Nik and I to complete it.
Although I do not have pictures, I also finished the last of the binding. I had a few rows left in one part of the vineyard that I did not complete before I left for break. I got my cutting ring, medical tape and rubber tubing and headed out to the vines. Binding is essential, it connects the vines to the trellising and stabilizes them. Without binding, the vines would go any which way and would lead to inefficient grape growing. Uniformity is key.
Nik going through the recyclables
All containers are packed into the trailer, and the room is empty
On Wednesday I worked on a few random tasks but one important job was cleaning up the trellising wires and tighten them. As the vines grow upwards they will need support from these wires, and it is better for them to be nice and taut. I also had to make sure that the two wires were not connected by some left over vines, which was common. These small vine pieces were left over from when Nik and I pruned. Jane and I started at the bottom of the PV vines and made our way up towards the castle. We started this task later in the day and were not able to finish all of the PVs on Wednesday. I had to work on this the next day but also moved on to the Gold Muskatllers.
This task is simple. You go down each row and cut any vines that are just hanging around or connecting the two wires. As with most things in the vineyard, the tool of choice was my trusty pruners. You just find the vines and cut away. Once the whole row is cleaned up, you tighten the wires. You must also make sure they are all position correctly, so that the top wires have a little more space then the bottom. To tighten the wires you go to the end of the row where there are chains connected to the wire. You take them off a nail and pull tight, once the wire is taut you place the chain back on the nail. This job was easy but time consuming. There were some nasty spots where the vines were interlocking. From Wednesday through Friday I worked a few hours each day to get this task done.
Vine piece
The cut
Chain at end of trellising
Another small task that I had was to smooth out the compost pile. The day before Mitch and his wife dug into the compost and pushed it down into a pile. The pile consisted of mostly animal dung, straw and other organic matter, but not food. Nik will use this rich soil around the farm where it is needed most. With most of the work done, this did not take to long.
Here at Brunnenburg, potatoes serve as one of the main food sources for the pigs. The family gets these second hand potatoes from a friend. They are taking an otherwise useless product and turning it into meal production. Currently Mira, her piglets, and Gulliver are down at the other pig area. They receive a hefty portion of potatoes each day, but the bulk of potatoes are up in the stable. I loaded up crates of potatoes and put them on the tractor. I have done this before, but the potatoes were running low. The crate in the stable was also getting low, so nine crates of potatoes went down to the pigs and four went into the garage. We also took some animal feed down with us.
Potatoes for pigs
Food/Potatoes on tractor
The piglets, which have gotten much bigger since I first arrive, have a habit of digging holes up by the fence. They use their powerful snouts to dig and look for food. If we allow them to dig, there is a possibility they could get under the fence and escape. Every once and awhile it is good to fill in the holes then put this mineral powder on top of the filled in holes. The powder is suppose to deter the pigs from digging in these areas. The powder works some of the time but eventually the piglets dig again. This was my second time doing this, but like many jobs it had to be done.
Mineral powder
Baby swine digging up by fence
The final task of the day was spreading some calcium on one part of the vineyard. This area has some older vines, which means they have been sprayed more then the newer vines. Nik sprays copper to help the vines, but some of the copper soaks into the soil and sits. It is not good to have an over abundance of any one mineral in your soil. I just applied the calcium onto the top of the soil in the middle of the row. It will eventually soak into the ground and slowly absorb the excess copper.
Calcium in vineyard

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Break 2010

I am off to Naples/Napoli soon for a nice long break, I will not have access to my computer, so I will not be updated my blog for a bit. Below are some pictures from Wednesday nights fest that the students prepared for everyone. Good times had by all.