Hard Earth and Hilling Up
“It’s minus ten Celsius. Sure, the ground is frozen, but it won’t hurt to try burying the vines. It might work –right?
With the tractor reverse gear repaired, I headed out to the field one fine Saturday to attempt hilling up for the second time. It seemed to go well, although the hard soil made the tractor struggle a little. But when I hopped off of the tractor two hours later, my plow was bent. The 3/4 inch steel bars buckled under the extreme pressure of moving the hard soil. My little plow just wasn’t up to the job!
The following weekend I contacted Kimball Lacey, and borrowed his v-plow, aka “The Beast”. This hunk of iron is virtually unbreakable, and is good at moving a lot of soil fast.
I hooked up the Beast and drew it up and down a row. It worked great, but then it started to break. One of the welds on the three point hitch was tearing apart. If that weld failed, disaster would really strike and I’d have a bent up piece of equipment I didn’t own stuck way out in the vineyard. So I stopped immediately and drove it out of the field. I was about to drive the plow over to the welders’ to get it fixed up, and then I noticed the tractor tire was flat and leaking. So three problems – a bent plow, a broken weld on a plow that wasn’t mine, and a flat tire. Discouraging.
Time to take a deep breath. I took apart the first plow and drove it over to the welders’, who have a big machine to bend it back to shape. They happily drove their portable arc welder back to my place to fix The Beast up. Then I called up the tire guy. He said “the calcium won’t flow, it’s too cold”, and he could only fix the tire on Monday. So that was the end of the weekend fun.
Come Monday morning, the tire guy left me a voice mail “you’re tractor’s fixed and ready to rock!”
Miraculously, the weather turned warmer on Tuesday. The ground thawed out. After my day job in Toronto and a quick negotiation with Micheline, I hopped in the car and drove out to the County, where I hooked up the Beast and finished hilling up our vines by the darkness of the New Moon. The frost had released its iron grip, and the soil turned easily over the vines. The next morning, back in the car at 4:30 am and at my desk in Toronto by 8:30 am. Hilling up — complete!”