The last go around

What a week it has been.  I needed out of the house this morning, so I followed the hubby on his irrigation ventures.  This is the last round of water before harvest.  We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Thank you Jesus!  I'm sure he just loves it when I come along..."Aren't you supposed to turn that valve off?...What are you doing that for?...Why are you digging it to go that way and not the other?.." and so forth.  Buy hey, how do you learn if you don't ask questions, right?  Just over 5 years ago, I would have never thought I would marry a grape farmer.  And a little over 5 years ago, I knew absolutely NOTHING about grape growing, let alone, the process the make them into raisins.  All I knew about grape growing was that there were semi trucks that drove down the street where I grew up in late August/early Septermber because there was a vineyard at the end of our street.  I feel like I've learned alot in the past 5 years, and hopefully I don't screw up this post too bad, because I know you're reading Chris. :)

First off, 'we' started irrigating at our home place.  He tries to irrigate every 2-3 weeks.  It takes a lot of time.  Early mornings to get it done before he has to go to his other job, at late nights to get the water changed after he gets of his other job and before it gets dark. Irrigating 50 acres by himself every 2-3 weeks takes a lot of energy, especially when he has full time job elsewhere.
Unfortunately we don't get ditch water here.  So we have to pay to run our pump in order to irrigate, kinda sucky, but that's the way it is.  Therefore, we only run it on the weekends and at night in order to keep the cost down. 

This is a valve.  You turn the handle and it magically releases water from the ground. Depending on which way you dig out the dirt, the water will flow to either side of the row. 

This is my hubby, digging out the dirt so the water will flow to the left and not to the right.  It's very strategic.  Shovel dirt from one side and pile it on the other.  He's pretty darn good at it.

And this is what it looks like right after you dig out the valve.  The water starts flowing.  

And 12 hours later....

He cuts the water across to the other side so the next row of vines gets water to it.  I know, sounds complicated, but I think I could almost do it.  However, I can't say it out loud otherwise he would want to sit inside and let me go out and change water.  I don't think I could live up to his standards, though.  :)

After he had turned off the first set of valves and started some more, and dug out the dirt, we headed over to another ranch that we call, Parlier, so he can change the water there as well.  Now this place is irrigated a little differently.  They get ditch water there.  Lucky!  And the valves are in the middle of the 1/4 mile row and not at the ends.  Bummer, now his wife won't follow him, and you'll see why not in a minute.  The soil is a lot different at this ranch than the other two farms.  A lot more dense and clay-ee.  Pretty sure I just made that word up.  Anyways, this ground requires a lot more water, and it can take it without being washed away like the more sandy soil at the other 2 places.  

Here is a row before the valve has been turned on.  All nice and twice-disced, weedless and clean.

And this is why I sit in the truck while he trudges through this mess.  He wears his hunting waders to walk through this because it is too deep for just regular ol' rubber boots.  I know, you're thinking that I don't walk through this because I don't have the proper attire.  Oh no, this city raised girl has her very own set of hunting waders, and she even knows how to operate the shotgun that goes along with it.  But, I HATE walking through ground like this.  I tend to get stuck and fall...a lot.  No bueno, especially because Chris just stands there and laughs. He thinks it's funny, I personally don't see the humor in it.  I don't need a flash back on our first hunting trip together.

This is what the bunches look like now, they are about as big as the are going to get, just waiting on sugar to show up.  I know he tests for sugar with some kind of tool, but I don't know the process.  However, I have already told him that he is going to show me this year how he does it.  So when I learn how it is done, I will show you.  Promise.  I know you are all waiting on pins a needles!  

We are looking at about another 30 days or so, and the picking process will commence!

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