“Oh no…. go away!” I yelled as a flock of hundreds of starlings swooped through our vineyards. I guess it’s time to get the electric fences up and bird control in operation!
So this weekend the tractors were quiet. The most important vineyard job right now is critter control. I went to town and picked up four big rolls of “bale wrap”. Together with the leftover roll from last year, they comprise 15 kilometers of inexpensive netting for my vines. We’ll get that netting up over the next couple of weeks.
But we needed a more urgent fix. So I rummaged in and around the shed and pulled out all the stakes, electric fence wire, and controllers for the electric fences and put it in a pile. I also found the batteries with their solar panels and the bird distress call squawkers.
Then I hopped on the lawnmower and mowed the grass short in a big perimeter around both the front vineyard and the back vineyard.
At that point, I decided this would be a two man job, so I turned to Cecil. Cecil is my vineyard employee. He’s been working away at thinning shoots and hoeing weeds in the front vineyard for the last couple of weeks and is almost finished. But I wanted that electric fence up in a day, so I asked him if he could string the wires out for the front vineyard, while I worked on the back vineyard.
It may seem like a small job, but it’s very time consuming to put up those fences. First I walk around the vineyard laying out posts and insulators every 30 feet. Then I make another circuit hammering them in the ground and tightening the insulators. Then at each corner where the fence needed to be strong to withstand the tension, I sledge hammer a short t-bar. Four more times around the vineyard to unroll fence wire. A final time to tension everything up, connect the solar controller and grounding rods, and after eight circuits I am done. I’ve walked closed to seven kilometers, (but that’s nothing compared with putting up the netting, where you need to walk more than 30 kilometers.)
I started at 7:00 am and it was suppertime by the time I was finished with the fence. Checking on Cecil, he had completed deploying in the front vineyard too, and was packing up to head home. I powered up the front fence, and felt satisfied that all four legged critters should be deterred, with the exception of the cute little bunnies, which I think may have a burrow in the vineyard somewhere. Fortunately, cute little bunnies don’t seem to eat a lot of grapes.
Micheline and the girls had been enjoying the beautiful day a the vineyard, but left early because Anika needed to get on the ice in preparation for this week’s Hockey camp.
Before I could head back to join them in Toronto, I needed to get our bird distress call system going. I opened the box, and a cloud of Styrofoam confetti puffed out at me. Strange! A little mouse nest and desiccated mouse mummy popped out of the box with the rest of the equipment. Aha! Then I checked the little solar charging panels which are packed in Styrofoam. Ants were swarming all over one of them. Ants had made a nest inside the solar panel and in their spare time made Styrofoam confetti. I imagined them celebrating little ant parties in my shed. Their fun was over. Carefully I extracted the solar panel, sprayed it with RAID, and then threw the infested packaging away.
An hour later, I had deployed the equipment. Bird distress calls resounded across the back vineyard, but the front vineyard was still quiet. I suspected the battery was the problem. On the farm, necessity is the mother of invention. So I co-opted our lawn mower battery for vineyard use. Soon enough a chorus of birds in panic and pain was screeching in the front as well. It was now sunset, and from over at Closson Chase loud thuds began as their bird cannons started going off and then loud screeches like firecrackers.
I felt a little guilty leaving all of the cacaphony with my country neighbours as I packed up the truck and headed back to the relative quiet of my home in the big City.