Monday, October 21, 2013

About This Dog

posted by Beck

We've mentioned this a few times, but yeah, we got a dog. Here's how it went down.

Back in June JP called me one day after work and told me he wanted to go and look at a dog that had wandered onto a friend of a friend's property. The people had waited a couple of weeks, done their due diligence and no one claimed the dog. They weren't able to keep her, but wanted to see her go to a good home.

"No," I said.

"I'm just going to go look at it," he said.

"No dog," I repeated. "I will divorce you." (I realize one should make light of the "D" word, but I was semi- serious.) I did not need another thing to take care of at this point in my life and, to be honest, I'm just not a dog person.

He proceeded to woo me with his usual JP-ness until I gave him permission to go see the dog, but was still adamant that there would be no dog coming to our house.

A couple of hours later, the boys and I were at my in-laws discussing the dog when I learned that JP has sent his dad a video of the dog sitting, laying down and shaking hands on command. I watched it, aaaaannnnndddd, I have to admit, I was impressed. The in-laws were encouraging. This was a free dog. A free, trained dog. A dog who would absolutely live outside or in a crate and would bring us protection.

You know how this ends. We got a dog. A dog who sleeps on the floor of our room or our children's rooms and NOT outside, in a crate, OR in the laundry room as previously agreed upon. A dog who wakes ME up when she wants to go outside at 3am because I am on the side of the bed closest to the door and the lightest sleeper (I'm convinced that moms of small children don't get REM sleep).

All that to say, she's an amazing dog. A German Shepherd. Probably 3 or 4 years old. She's super mellow, rarely barks, and has a remarkably strong bladder. She's great with the boys (and the cat) and we love her. JP has stayed true to his word. He cleans up all the poop and takes care of most of her needs, and when I occasionally whack him on the arm in the middle of the night to tell him HIS dog needs to go out, he usually does it without grumbling.

And, I have to admit, I really do like having her around.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Bounty - Harvest 2013

posted by JP

This just happened to be on the window of LJ's classroom today.

Beck wrote this last week:
 "JP and I are both speechless. This morning the pickers arrived for our 3rd harvest. As we watched them start picking and loading the grapes into the bins our excitement built. This may actually work this year. This crazy adventure we started on a little more than 2 years ago may actually start to pay off."

It says in the Bible that "the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few." That verse applied to our life quite literally this year. Growing up as a city boy I always applied the standard Christian evangelical meaning to that verse. Today as a farmer it takes on a whole new meaning.

Some of the many wonderful workers who came out to pick!

10 days ago we found out that our grapes had reached the necessary sugar level and were ready for harvest! We were ecstatic! Then... I got a call from our vineyard manager who said he didn't have enough workers to pick our grapes. Major buzz kill. So, I started to make calls to other vineyard managers only to find out that everyone was swamped and low on manpower this year.  Not something you want to hear when your grapes are ready and rain is in the forecast. (This time of year rain can wipe out a crop and leave you stuck with no income and a bunch of bills.) All that to say, yes, this year that verse had an urgent significance to it.
But, we serve a big God, so with a little prayer and support from our great partner at Gallo Family Wines, we found an elite vineyard manager in our area who agreed to come harvest our Petite Sirah grapes and we gained more favor in the wine world. The crew ended up having to work an EXTRA day because we had more grapes than anyone anticipated!

Equipment all tucked in for the night waiting for Day #2

Doesn't everyone have a porta-potty and a semi trailer in their backyard?

To give you an idea of the significance of this year, let's break it down. We bought our house in August 2011. It was a foreclosure property that had little care for several years. We harvested two months later and produced 8 tons. The next year we hung on for dear life financially and did major work making up for years of neglect, only to produce 2 tons of grapes in 2012. That was one of the hardest days of my life, trying to find meaning and hang on for another year.


Beck told me earlier this month that if we didn't get a good harvest this year then maybe we should use that as a sign that this life was not the Lord's will for our family. Well, He heard her and physically showed us that we are in His will and blessing. This has been a real growing year for us as we've seen first hand how, when you live life in close relationship with Jesus, in the moment when you're not sure how things are going to work out and you're broke and have a pile of bills to pay, God comes through in a big way! This has been evidenced to us in more than just grapes this year, but that's not why you're reading right now.

So, without making you wait any longer, we are proud to announce that we produced 28.4 tons of grapes at 25.35 sugar this year. The minimum sugar level we had to hit was 24 and we exceeded that mark by over a degree, which is significant in wine world. We produced 6.3 tons of grapes to the acre. And we believe that with some key changes and some more expert help we can increase our yield and quality significantly for next year.

We've been learning that in life when you work hard, take risks, surround yourself with good mentors and experts, and ask the good Lord for favor, things come together and you see rewards for your efforts. It says in the Bible that God is the "Lord of the Harvest." Well, we can testify to that in more ways than one!

The sound of these babies going into the truck was music to our ears!

If you asked me ten years ago if I thought I would be a banker by day/farmer by night, or if I thought I would get up in the morning and gather fresh eggs from my chickens and enjoy my morning coffee overlooking my vineyard, I would have said you were crazy. I am glad life has not gone as planned, but that's why we put our faith in the adventure of walking with Jesus. He never promised it would be an easy journey, but it's definitely exciting.

Our biggest blessings helping out on one of the tractors. I think OSHA might take issue with the lack of footwear.

Beck and I think the world of blogs and social media has created unhealthy self-reflection of comparing your life to the lives of others. The thing is, your life is your adventure and your story and it doesn't compare to the journey anyone else is on. This one happens to be ours. Thanks for reading and sharing in our adventure!

Bye grapes! Go make some really great wine!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Lost Chicken

Posted by Beck

It has been awhile since we had a good story to share. I think this one fits the bill.

As I was walking into a staff meeting at work this morning I happened to check facebook on my phone (oops) and saw this post. You can see the conversation that ensued below. Just another day of living in the country.

My favorite is the guy who chimed in there in the middle. I was glad I wasn't the only one who thought the whole thing was funny! Thank goodness for sweet neighbors (and their kiddos!)

Oh, and sorry for all the tacky paintbrush marks. In the tug of war between my Gen X vs. Millenial tendencies, Gen X tends to win in terms of Internet privacy. Is that an oxy-moron?