Chronicles of the Long Shot Farm

New Vintage: Desert Rose 2020

As the crisp, brisk breeze of the arid Rocky Mountain top suggests a barren peak, the cherry and strawberry fruit flavors and lemony finish in Desert Rose will leave you just as astonished as finding that the dry frontier is a beautiful, bountiful elk country out west. If you know to hunt for it.  This dry wine with its rosy color pairs well with sharp cheese and smoked pork.

Two Men and a Tractor: The Cup Holder

Some problems are as old as Farming. Man versus Rock. Man versus Stump. But since the combustion engine: Man versus Tractor. Here we chronicle the triumphs and failures of Mankind and the Tractors at the Long Shot Farm.

The Cup Holder

It is hour seven. The sun is now high in the sky. Too high. And on the Rust colored tractor, there is no shade, no air-conditioning, because it was built in 1958 when “Real Men” worked the Earth. But there is still daylight, and there is still mowing to be done. Grass is high and weeds are working their way through. And the heat is beating down. So the Farmer feels a deep thirst, and reaches down to grab his Drink. But there is no Drink.  No. Drink. For there is no cup holder. Silently, the Farmer curses, raises his fist to the sky, but continues mowing. For there is still Sun in the sky, and still weeds that need to die.

The Farmer returns after the day is done, and finds his Welder, installing a muffler on one of the tractors. “Lars! We need a cup holder. For my thirst rages within me out in the field, and it demands satisfaction.”

Now on a Farmer’s tractor, one cannot just weld on any old cupholder. No, it needs to be large enough to hold both a jug and a mug, including handle. Jug for the afternoon, but coffee is always the order of the morning. So the Welder sauntered into the shed which houses the tools and all things that might be one day useful. After much rummaging, he found it. An old one quart Folgers coffee can: also somewhat rust colored. Now this coffee can is truly old, for it is metal, not plastic. Inside are the same 6 nails it had stoically guarded for the last three decades. “It will do,” muttered the Welder. Large enough for the mug or jug.

For such a delicate piece of metal, only precision TIG welding will do. By arcing from a tungsten tip a high wattage current, enveloped by a layer of argon gas, one can join together that which was made separate without fear of burning or oxidizing. But only when wielded by the skillful welder.

After the weld was made, the Farmer came to inspect. With but a glance and a nod, he muttered, “It will do.”

The next day, as the Farmer ventured back out to the fields in the Rust colored tractor, thermos firmly secured, the Welder looked on. “But that tire looks flat!”

And so goes the eternal battle of Man and Tractor.

Posted by Anja Weyant

Repairing Old Trellis

Now that spring planting of vines is complete, we have moved on to repairing the trellis.  Some of our earliest vineyards were built with wooden posts.  Unfortunately these older posts are collapsing under the weight of the mature vines.  We have been replacing the old posts with metal orchard posts.  These have a much longer lifespan and will hold up to the crushing weight of the fruitful vines.  To install the metal posts we use a Skidril.  This tool is like a jackhammer.  It slides over the top of the 8 foot post and hammers it into the ground.  One person holds the post while another stands on the tractor bucket with the drill.  It is a hot and sweaty job.  If only they had a cup holder on the old tractor.

Cleaning Tree Tubes

In our vineyards we use tree tubes to protect the vines from wandering deer.  Once the vines reach the top of the trellis they are safer.  Last month we cleaned out some old tree tubes with a hot water pressure washer.  We set the temperature to about 150 degrees and used a sewer nozzle.  The nozzle had one jet of water shooting out the front and five angled backwards.  The pressure washer tip and nozzle were then attached to a saw horse.

Rachel slid the old tree tubes over the nozzle which blew out all of the dirt, dead leaves, and spiders.  It was a wet and messy job but it will be great to reuse 300 tree tubes on the Pinots, Cabs, and Corot Noirs!

Two Men and a Tractor: The High Lift

Some problems are as old as Farming. Man versus Rock. Man versus Stump. But since the combustion engine: Man versus Tractor. Here we chronicle the triumphs and failures of Mankind and the Tractors at the Long Shot Farm.

The High Lift

Our story begins on a beautiful Spring Saturday morning.  There is mulch to be spread and grass to mow.  The Farmer saunters out to the tractor shed after downing a fresh pot of coffee and a pan of scrapple, eager to get to the days work.  He reaches the Red Tractor, and a look of despair and consternation crosses his face.  He realizes he can’t put mulch in the mulch spreader.  There is no high lift.

Mulching in the vineyard is a two tractor endeavor.  One tractor has the mulch spreader in tow while the other tractor waits near the mountainous mulch pile with the high lift attached.  This tractor fills its bucket with mulch and dumps it into the spreader. The Farmer,  determination in his eyes, sits down at the kitchen table at the Long Shot Farm homestead.  Here he consults with the Master of All Things But One.

“Jeff”, he says, “we need a high lift.”

A tall, burley man, with a whiskery face and kind brown eyes grumbles, “Let me see what I can find.”

Days pass.  Fixing an old tractor is never a one purchase affair and the purchases made are never completely accurate.  But what can be found, will be made to work, through the thinking and brawn of our dear Aerospace Engineer and resident Apprentice Master Welder.

A used high lift made for the former model of the Red Tractor was found.  The high lift was in good condition but the brackets were made for a smaller tractor.  The brackets also had to come forward so the high lift could clear the front end of the tractor and the brackets were too high.

The Engineer puzzled over the situation and in a eureka moment, devised a plan to modify the high lift.  He discovered that only a few diagonal slices to the bracket of the high lift would simultaneously make the bracket bigger, bring the front of the high lift more forward and allow the entire lift to be lowered.  He communicated this plan the Welder.

With steady hands like a surgeon, the Welder sliced the metal, laid out the new angles with precision, and gently braided the metal back together.  The final task was to attach the new device to the the Red Tractor.  The fit was beautiful.

As the Red Tractor puttered away on its mission to mulch, something was amiss: “But,” said the Welder, as he looked on the Tractor moving off on its way, “the hydraulics are leaking…”

So goes the eternal battle of Man versus Tractor. Until next time…

Posted by Anja Weyant