Last week was a tough one, and they happen from time to time. A preventative spray was due for powdery mildew. The blocks at the top of the vineyard do not have sufficient end space to use the Lamborghini so we tow the spray unit with a 14 HP Kubota lawn mower fitted with tractor tyres. First problem, it wouldn’t start so I used the other small Kubota mower. Got half way through the first block before I realised that I was using the open lyre jets. Ouch! Went back, refilled the spray unit, changed the jets and headed back. I got half way to the top when the mower stopped, having broken a drive belt. Back to the shed and managed to jump start the original one and finish the three blocks in question. A few hours followed replacing the main drive belt and the battery. All good!
The following day I attempted to spray the remainder of the vineyard but the spray unit wouldn’t start as the magneto had failed. A quick phone call to Victoria had one on the way, so I turned to another problem, the bore pump, which is used for irrigation and was leaking badly where the bore hoses connect. Problems: cracked plastic fittings and collapsed cast iron pump inlet. The latter wasn’t surprising, as it had been there for over 40 years and the bore water is acidic at about pH 5.5. The problem here is that to replace the connecting fittings and the pump inlet assembly, the hoses (two) have to be extracted, as least partially from the bore, which is 27 metres deep and both pipes retain their water! With the help of son in law, Mike Coombs, we managed to get the pipes out far enough to tackle the replacement activity, reassemble it all, drop it back in and reconnect the pump. A massive job that chewed up more than a day. Pictured below is the pump inlet fitting showing the degree of corrosion. Such is vineyard life!
Next was replacing the magneto on the spray unit, which is basically an air blast model designed around a German Solo ultra light aircraft engine (true!). It took cove a day before the spray unit responded to its surgery. But the job got done.
The next disaster had nothing to do with the vineyard. The little fellow pictured above was run over last week just down the road from us. He was a spotted quoll, a native carnivorous cat, quite uncommon and a bloody shame.