7. Time to start Working!
My first visit to the Davis Mountains as an owner will be in mid-January and much will be accomplished!
1. Someone from the regional utility is coming out to the property to do a survey so that electricity can be brought from across the road to the vineyard property. This will be very important for things that require electricity; tools, lights, etc.
2. Earlier this year I dug several holes on the property that were 3-4 ft deep in order to take soil samples for analysis. This type of analysis reveals, among other things, soil pH, nutrient content and the mineral content of the soil. In order to get an even better idea of how the entire soil profile will affect the grape vines that will soon be planted there, we have to dig a little deeper. I have hired a guy with a backhoe to come out and dig some deep pits in order to do a few things:
a. Find out how deep the soil is
b. Find out if the depth of the soil varies in any meaningful way across the planting site
c. Get an idea of the soil’s capacity to retain water at different depths and assess whether ornot the vines will be able to grow their roots deep enough to access that water. For this, a soil scientist from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is coming out to look at the pits and evaluate the soil profile. This information will be helpful in designing the irrigation system and irrigation strategy.
3. I have ordered the weather station that I mentioned in the last post. It should arrive before this January and will be installed then. The sensors will be attached to a telescoping pole so that it can be taken down and put back up easily for maintenance, etc. The pole will be about 18 ft tall and will serve a second purpose as a raptor perch. A raptor perch is desirable in a vineyard because it is a landing spot for birds of prey to hunt from. Having birds of prey in the vineyard is great because they eat pesky animals such as gophers and moles. Ranch Systems is the company I am using for the weather station, see here: http://marius.ranchsystems.com/wp/
4. I want to have accommodations on the property for myself as wells as the multitude of friends and family I plan to drag out to the middle of nowhere to help me work on the vineyard. For this purpose, I purchased a large canvas tent (16 ft. x 24 ft. x 9 ft.). I will build a wooden platform for the tent to sit on. Once complete, there will be a wood burning stove inside for warmth and cots or maybe bunkbeds for sleeping bags to be used on. The link below is a tour of the tent I ordered. Not much reason to watch the whole thing but you can skip through it to get an idea of what kind of tent I’m talking about. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTqIi6At2PI
5. The second part of the accommodations at Alta Marfa will be an outhouse. There is no sewer system anywhere near the property and for the time being a septic system seems unnecessary, expensive, gross… take your pick. A composting toilet is the solution. It is completely waterless, the byproduct is basically dirt and according to the internet they work quite well. I have drawn up a basic design for a small wooden outhouse-type building for the composter to live in. See the toilet I plan on using here: http://www.natureshead.net
5. Last but not least, hopefully the drone I ordered right before the last post should arrive before the trip so that I can document all of this January work in beautiful 4K video! Here is the DJI Mavik drone: http://www.dji.com/mavic