The soy was finally harvested from the fields just before Christmas. Combining all the holiday chores with 3 to 4 inches of snow and the worst cold spell in years, real work wasn't started until just after Christmas and extending several days beyond New Years.
Jerry was on the tractor all this time, tilling Block 2 three or four times to get the top 8 inches of soil loosened up. It was so cold at times I wondered if he was frozen to the steering wheel and whether or not the tractor may have been put in some kind of automatic mode to just go in circles, since I didn't see any movement from him for hours at a time.
The field had been utilizing the "no till' method for the last few years. The school of thought is that if you pin seed instead of using disc harrows or tillers, then there would be less erosion and use less labor hours to bring the field to harvest. This may be all true (though I fail to see how it is truly reflected in the bottom line when it seems that you have to put on more weed-killers before and during the growing season to combat their undesturbed growth), but one of the net effects is that the ground is super hard. Hence the tilling of the top soil.
There is so much work to be done. Looking ahead in order to look backward, planting of our grapes is to be around mid-April. Just prior to this we need to put down ground cover seed and give it 5 or 6 weeks to root itself before we start trampling on it. So all this means that all the field prep work needs to be completed by February 28th......a quick 2 months from now.
Poles go in next after Jerry drag screens the fields following tilling. With over 700 poles to pound in you're talking easily 1 1/2 to 2 weeks of work and hoping that the ground isn't frozen solid and there is no severe weather to contend with. Once they are in there is the drilling of the bottom wire holes, running the bottom wire and attaching the drip line, trenching for the branch line of the irrigation system and tieing it in, installing all the drippers.
If all goes well we'll start the pole work before January is over in order to give Jerry as much time as possible to do all the other requirements.
It is not a time to reflect......work needs to be done and the new grapes are the children that need our attention.