After tie-down, our vines get buried underneath a protective hill of soil. We move around tonnes of dirt. We drive up and down each of our 68 rows several times with the plow and get to know the vineyard very well. Back and forth, back and forth for about 20 hours.
A slow job and there are only so many weekend hours. It’s a race against the ground freezing up from the impending Winter. Half the time it rains, and the ground is too slick for pulling the heavy plow. The worst thing that can happen this time of year is a tractor breakdown.
I was optimistic about finishing the hilling up job this weekend, but in the early hours Sunday — disaster. The reverse gear on the tractor disappeared. Instead of an efficient “click” into reverse, the lever just felt mushy. And when in reverse, the tractor went forward.
Although it might have been possible to do the job only in forward, there would likely be a time when I misjudge a turn and head straight for a post. Without the ability to back up, I would be stuck in the field.
Time to call the tractor repair guy, and head home to the city. A job undone will linger in the back of my mind this week. Then there’s the worry that if we don’t get the hilling done before the frost siezes the soil, we will have wasted a lot of money paying people to tie down the vines.
But looking at the bright side, it had started raining. The ground was so slick that I would have had to quit anyway. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves, that it’s pointless to worry about things beyond our control, like fickle tractors and weather. That’s the stoicism of farming.