It’s some time since our lovely volunteers came to stay and work, but only now do I have time to report on the fantastic job they did. We had a slightly smaller team this year with eight intrepid volunteers. Our house is currently for sale and we couldn’t quite cope with the thought of having an overflowing house and potential buyers at the same time, so we kept it small.
We’d rather hoped the weather might be a bit better since we’d had glorious sunshine for most of March, but in the end rain stopped play only once so we got off lightly. Now we have the second tractor and a new rotavator we were able to get so much more land worked. On the first day everyone helped us finish off the pruning which had been left until horribly late thanks to a million other engagements. After that jobs were dispensed and chosen according to skills, fitness and desire.
The intrepid Sue drove Shelley the Chenillard and ploughed almost all the land – some of it is just too sloped and rocky to work. Fortunately she only fell off once and lived to tell the tale. We’ll be reviewing H&S procedures for next year! Peter and I took it in turns to drive the new V73 with Howard the rotavator working his socks off and leaving the rows between the vines looking impeccable. Linda powdered the vines with sulphur to ward off the early moulds. Paula, Sharon and Sarah gathered up all the vine offcuts from the pruning and vines that had dropped dead during the past year. Chris, having a shoulder injury, was confined to painting things. She gave the newly burnt out Marcel the Renault 4L a coat of paint to prevent fly-by arsonists from having ideas. All our machinery is now painted with the vineyard GPS coordinates in case we have to give the details to the emergency services*. Ali strimmed and made sure everyone was fed and watered. Everyone worked their socks off and had a good time in the process.
Each evening a couple would take it in turns to shop and cook for everyone. We ate and slept very well indeed. The vineyard was left looking spic and span and the heavens opened the day everyone left. That couldn’t have been better timing. You could hear the raining gurgling down through the newly worked land carrying much-needed nutrients and life-giving water to the roots of the vines.
Thanks a million everyone – looking forward to next year!
*Here’s an account I wrote on the day Marcel popped his clogs:
Marcel the 4L died today. I took the dogs for a walk in the vineyard this morning. We got into the car to come home, I started it up, reversed a short way, then noticed smoke coming from the bonnet. Remembering all those firemen’s advice I leapt out of the car, got the dogs out of the back and hurried them up to the caravan where I locked them in. I ran back to the car and rescued my keys, phone and purse. By now serious smoke was pouring from the front of the car.
I rang Ali to ask her to come to the vineyard – I needed moral support. Then I rang the fire brigade. They asked for the exact address. What do you say when you’re standing outside a stone hut in the middle of a vineyard at least a mile from any public roads? I described it as well as I could and rang off. I waited what seemed like an age until Ali arrived. Eventually three gendarmes arrived and phoned through the GPS coordinates for the fire emgine. By this time all five tyres and the petrol tank had blown sending columns of black smoke into the blue blue sky. The flames were intense and I was very concerned that the tinder dry grass would catch light.
Finally, 40 minutes after I called them, a fire engine and four firemen arrived to put out the flames.
Poor Marcel is a metal shell now. There’s nothing of value left. He served us well, carrying us, the dogs, our harvest, endless logs and lots of machinery up and down to the vineyard every day. We will miss him.