Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Take That Post and Shove[l] It!

I broke another end post this evening and this time it wasn't my fault. Really. Now please tell me the best way to repair it.

The first post was demolished last year when the pick up truck slid off the mud path at the top of the hill and careened down the vineyard resting against the post. (For the record, this post was broken by the rescue crew when they wrapped their pulley wire around it as leverage to yank the truck out). As this was before The Recession and before the Queen had spent the last of our life savings on 47 Phoenix canariensis palm trees and before the college raised the Princess' tuition above $50K/year, we let Fidel and the guys fix it.

The 2nd post was knocked down by the branches of a falling pepper tree I chopped down. Now that was stupid and my fault. And this time, there was no one to repair it but yours truly, the guy who still can't tie a slip knot. Those were the days of economic woe when men became men and relearned the arts of self reliance and I figured out how to wrap wire around a pole, connect two wires with a gripple and use the gripple/wire tensioning device. No matter how much the Queen dislikes Fidel, I'll say he sure does good wiring. My work was not as elegant as his. But we repaired the pole before the vines burst their buds in spring and it's still standing and I was proud. That was the day I earned my rite-of-passage to the order of vineyardistos.
Unlike dominoes, which, when the first one falls they all fall, the felling of an end post is not as great a catastrophe as I had feared, and to which I can now attest as, regrettably, I have become something of an expert in this area. What happens is the vines between the end post and the next trellis stake loose their support; but the vines after the support stake hang in there.

I am in denial when I say the demise of the third pole this evening was not my fault. In fact, pride was my downfall. I was so proud of myself that I had finally figured out how to use the wire tightening device, that, after coming home from work on Tuesday I said to the Queen, "Let's go tighten some loose wires and I'll show you how to do it." So Bluey, Her Highness and I (sans Fidel) marched to the top of the hill and I attached the wire tightening device to the gripple, grabbed the wire, pulled and tightened. Vines shifted and the wire straightened. Then, I pulled in the other direction tightening again.

As I inspected the vines, I noticed the wire had become more loose away from the center where I was tightening. That was odd. Was I doing something wrong? I called the Queen and asked her to check my logic: "If I'm shortening the length of the wire, then the wire should be getting tighter, right?" To show her, I attached the tightening device to the gripple, pulled and tightened again. We walked down the row and as I approached the end, indeed, the line was even more loose than before. "How could that be?" I asked in disbelief.

"Look at the end post!" she said (without adding "you idiot"), and then I realized it was broken. Had I pulled too tight? Was the pole rotten from being close to water? Had termites destroyed it? It was too dark to tell. I held up the pole while the Queen ran down the mountain to the garage to bring back wire cutters and we cut the wires, removed the pole and left four vines at the mercy of rabbits who will find a feast of vines if they venture to the area. At this point night had fallen and we headed down the mountain and there was a bottle of Old Coach Vineyards decanted wine waiting for us after I brushed Bluey, checked his paws for foxtails, and set the mouse traps for the evening.

The morning inspection revealed that the rabbits were merciful to the prostrate vines and that the post was not rotten. I noticed there was no concrete at the top of the hole area, so my suspicion is that the hole was not filled with enough concrete during installation. (For the record, we used 10 ft. poles on this section and an auger that drilled into the DG at least 3 ft. The standard practice was to add 2 bags of cement per hole.) I suspect I pulled too tightly on the top wire putting tremendous pressure on the post. But what do I know?

What do you think happened and how do you suggest we replace the end post and repair the wires?


Thud said...

Vinogirl has a tame Englishman to dig holes for her in the hot sun...me!...I work cheap.

Vinogirl said...

Tame my bottom!!!

Wow, you and your little gizmo must be strong to break an end post!
I am sure it was just a weak/faulty post from the get go. Nothing to do but replace it and reattach wires with Gripples. Have never had an end post break but have lengthened lots of wires with Gripples as we have added more vines.
Good luck.

Connie Turner said...

In Texas, we build a lot of fence. (I no longer participate in that fun event). Set a new post as close to the old one as possible & put in more concrete next time. If it must be in the exact same location, then find a winedrinking friend who also owns and loves to use his jack hammer; you need to trade some petit verdot for some jack & sweat... :)

Craig Justice said...

Yes, Vinogirl, the men (and women) in Blue-Merle Country are strong. I picked up a 10-footer from Coyote Karen, and she told me that she bent her [little] posts too, in the spring when tightening wire. Of course, Fidel blamed the bent posts on Frank (that's another story). Connie -- have plenty of Petit Verdot in bottles and barrels -- please hurry up we need your moral support and the full moon will be here soon.

Craig Justice said...

It is finished. New post is planted. The wires are grippled. The vines are back in their proper place pretty enough for a pretty girl. The full moon is waxing and it's time for a glass of wine and to remember history 65 years ago this evening at Mere St. Eglise in Normandy.

Vinogirl said...

Congrats on pole replacement. Vinomaker is sulphuring right now so I have a chance to catch up on some emails.
Nice D-day tribute :)