Summer on the Tractor

From John, July 20th, 2014

The roosters in the vineyard start to crow.  It is 5 a.m.  The eastern sky is showing that a new day will soon be upon us.  Teri and I have spent the night in the yurt after an evening of revelry in front of it!  I roll out of bed;  my old dog thumps her tail but makes no other movement;  Teri buries her head under her pillow as I tiptoe out of the yurt, carrying a bundle of clothes.

The tractor is in place, sprayer attached, ready to roll.  I quickly consult my notes: 4# sulfur per acre X 2 acres per tank;  but my scale weighs in grams so 8# becomes 3.64 kg (I am happy to note that my college days of using a metric balance to weigh out 1 oz portions is still useful!).  The sulfur is weighed out and carefully stirred into a 5 gallon bucket.

My tractor, which has been idling for a several minutes, is now revved up to 2700 rpm, the PTO engaged and sprayer rumbles to life.  Slowly the sulfur mix is poured into the tank and a man looking somewhat like a space alien with respirator, goggles and ear protection climbs on board.  Even though sulfur is an organic spray, it stings the eyes and insults my nose!

The clutch is depressed as the stick is slammed into high 1st and suddenly we are ambling toward the first row.  The air is dead still, the sun still not showing itself as I swing the lever forward to activate the sprayer.  A mist of sulfur hurdles into and over the vines behind me, settling on leaves and young fruit clusters.  Everything is working perfectly and I hope that bit of good fortune stays with me over the next 4 hours as I finish one vineyard

block, reload, finish another and so on.  I am continuously glancing behind me, taking a quick inventory of how the nozzles are functioning, then eying the pressure gauge, checking the rpm and the tank level.

The sun starts to peak above the horizon.  I flip on the music to my head set…the Brandenburg Concerti this morning.  The fruit set looks really good, wow, we’re going to have to drop some crop out here.  Leaves have been pulled where necessary and the vineyard is in near perfect shape.  Life is good.

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