Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Missed Opportunities - 2012

LJ enjoying his time on a real John Deere Tractor. 

JP writes:
Have you ever been kicked in the gut so hard you can't breathe? Have you ever poured your heart and soul into something only to see it fail? At this moment after our harvest today (last Friday now), that is how I feel. Its a terrible feeling of disappointment and what if's. What if I did this or that! Why did this happen? 

He can't just try to drive one John Deere, LJ has to try to drive all the John Deere's. 
Many of us can attest to having  failures and it sucks when they occur. This year the good Lord gave us 2 tons of grapes. They were much bigger and better quality of grapes than last year, however, again only 2 tons of grapes. Now when you compare that with farmers across San Joaquin County who had record harvests and the fact that we had 8.1 tons of grapes last year, when no one was farming them, it is gut wrenching to say the least. My dad told me today "Well Justin you're just not a grape farmer." My response, "Yes I am, just not a very good one this year." Just call me "Rookie".  I have been questioning myself all day with "How did this happen?"  "Why did this happen?" And my favorite "This Sucks!" 

Last winter before we pruned, an experienced pruner came and gave us a bid to prune our grapes. He had 30 years of experience and therefore was very expensive, but he said something that I dismissed at first because everything I read said to "prune grapes hard and they will reap a great harvest."  He said, "We can prune them, but the harvest is going to be light." What he was referring to was because the grapes were left for so long by the previous bank foreclosure, they were very overgrown. Getting them back into shape and giving them what they need actually placed them into shock. I knew from spring time on that it was going to be a light harvest because I did not see many blooms from the start. However, I really was being overly optimistic even though there were very few blooms. I thought surely I would do at least what I did last year. 

Despite set backs, when you see pictures like this, maybe this life country life is worth it. 
This, along with part of our vineyard being burnt due to extreme heat, combined with a broken water line, it took me a while to figure out that I needed help, so I called Lodi Irrigation in mid-September. Once help came, it took them a few days to figure out where the valve was that we needed to fix. This coupled with 100 + temps, hardly any rain this year, it is amazing those vines are still alive. Maybe I could have been on top of it more, but there is also a cost factor associated with all of this vineyard maintenance and my attention was tuned to different priorities the last couple of months, including my full-time job as a banker, a very pregnant wife, a toddler, a newborn, and, ahem, my poultry palace. Let's just say my focus on different priorities resulted in the consequence of only getting 2 tons of grapes this year. 

I remember swimming as a kid and teenager and there were some days and seasons where all the stars would align and I would swim amazing at swim competitions and then there were other times where they did not line up and I swam horribly. I know it's all a learning process and I can't beat myself up too much, but it is frustrating mentally, physically, emotionally, not to mention economically. 

Like my long time farmer Auntie Barbara said, "Hey Justin, that's farming!" 
Through it all I have to learn that in life things that are pruned hard go into shock at first, but with the right care and management a bountiful harvest may await in the future. At least I hope that's the lesson I will learn. I think I will have a glass of wine now.  -JP

Beck said tonight, "Look at the sky". I went outside and was reminded of the verse in the Bible that says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you". Tonight's sky was a reminder of His omnipotence.  


  1. Justin, you definitely have a fantastic perspective on al of this.

    1. Thanks Justin. Appreciate your encouragement! -JP