Altho I feed the Rain Maker often, he's a quick-growing teen—all angles and joints.
While Gerald, Uncle Pete and the Gishboyz shoot-positioned and thinned the Viognier, the Rain Maker and I set out to inject water to the replanted Barbera. While the 3-year Barbera vines are thriving, the first year replacements do not have a sufficient root system to bear the intense Southern Maryland summer. We hadn’t much rain in May (according to Uncle Pete, a little over 2″) and no rain for the past two weeks with record breaking temperatures, last week. The vines were looking a bit peaked. Everyone and thing in the vineyard looked peaked. We all wished mightily for rain, scanning the sky for clouds. The afternoon clouds were high racers and looked like they had no intent to stop for a shower. The first year Barbera vines would have their water.
We loaded BigRed up with the portable water tank, 150 feet of water hose and Dad’s mother of necessity invention: the mobile pump and generator.
The Rain Maker and I rode out to the Barbera block and set immediately to work. Remember way back in 2006, when I discussed how Ger and Uncle Pete used a T-shaped water tool to supply water directly to a vine’s roots? The Rain Maker was no more than a pup, back then! Five years later, Rain Maker attached the T-shaped water tool to the 150′ of water hose and trudged out to the rows.
First year vine after first year vine, the Rain Maker made sure each of them received a good dose of water directly applied to the roots. This method is better than surface watering, which promotes weed growth. We are also lucky to have such porous sand and clay soil—it makes it much easier to break the ground with the water wand. The Rain Maker was diligent in hitting all the first year vines, while the third year vines looked on, longingly, at the good drinks the first year vines were receiving.
As any one who works the land can attest, there is nothing like watering anything in order to make big clouds in the sky well up and ask, “why are you doing that?”
The Rain Maker asked, “should I stop?” “No, keep going,” I said. “I’ll watch the sky for you.” I was a longshore woman of the watering hose. With arm over arm motion, I would pull the hose back from the row so the Rain Maker could more efficiently move between vineyard rows. I would then move BigRed a couple of rows ahead, get out and set the hose right for the Rain Maker to keep working. “I hear thunder,” the Rain Maker said, nervously. “Keep going, I’m watching for you. You have plenty of time,” I said. “I bet you can finish the last two rows.” I kept a good eye out for the pacing of the advancing, threatening clouds—all distant thunder rumble and no lightening. At last, I could smell the rain—is there ever a more beautiful aroma? The tower was still as sharp and visible as before, so I knew we had time.
The Rain Maker finished the last two rows and ran up with the T-shape water tool as I was looping the hose around the pumps. “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast,” I reminded him, glancing back at the growling grey sky. I calculated we had just enough time to get back to the shed and unload the bed of the truck before the sky unloaded upon us.
The RainMaker disentangled his wild throws into the bed of the truck and we carefully finished looping the hose. Then we tore into the cab of BigRed and threaded our way through the vineyard blocks. Halfway, Uncle Pete, Gerald and Boy2 met us in Uncle Pete’s truck. Ger was worried when he couldn’t pick me up on the cell phone. We righted the trucks, tore up to the shed, unloaded (this time, Ger admonished me, “don’t rush!”) the bed of Big Red and tore back up to the little white farm haus. We slid under the porch and the sky tore open with rain. We all laughed, congratulated the Rain Maker for getting the critical North side of the Barbera block watered and sending a strong enough signal for the sky to rain. Then we watched the clouds swirl and roil and we sobered up a bit—but the sky was the wrong color and the clouds, while menacing, were moving fast. A consultation to Twitter and The Weather Channel app showed we were on the outside edge of a severe thunderstorm that hit the southern part of St. Mary’s County, downing trees and power lines.
We did get rain for a half hour, but then the skies cleared again—leaving our vineyard rain appetite still not abated. With a chance at rain this afternoon at 60%, we are hoping the clouds are still a attracted by the efforts of our Rain Maker.