A personal perpsective of life in our Virginia vineyard... Christine Wells Vrooman



Meanwhile... Back on the Farm

With the Pinot grapes now off the vine and the Chardonnay still not ready to pick, I felt a palapable pause in my days and was able to turn my attentions to other aspects of our life here on the farm.  The lambs are growing up, some nearly as big as their mothers. We had the sad misfortune of having to euthanize one of the ewes.  She had had prolapsing issues since her pregnancy and this particular evening, four months after delivering, she was prolapsing everything and struggling so we couldn't allow her to suffer anymore. I gave her an injection to sedate her before she was euthanized.   It brought me to tears when her lambs were blaating to her from outside the stall and she lifted her sleepy head and blaated back to them. I think of all my moments on the farm this was the saddest and most heartbreaking.  Within a day, the lambs adopted another ewe and lamb as their own and they became their own new little family. Maria is buried with our other lost livestock up on a mossy knoll overlooking the pond, next to our family pets' burial ground.  It is a soft and sacred place.
So gentle are our sheep

The peaches have taken on a lovely blush, and with that have come the squirrels.  I never realized squirrels liked peaches!  But the darn things nearly stripped my trees before I was able to harvest some for us!  Guess we'll have to net the trees as well next year!
My heirloom tomato crop seems a bit light.  I believe the heat and the drought has crimped their style a bit.  I am trying to raise one cross-pollinated volunteer that sprouted on its own a few years back.  I have kept it away from the other tomatoes for three years now and I think it is producing true and might be ready to become its own variety, worthy of a new name.  It is extremely prolific, salad size and is the sweetest tomato I have ever tasted.  I am going to name it in memory of my dear, sweet mother, whom we all called Mimi.  My new heirloom tomato... my "Sweet Mimi".

And the Damson plums are just about ripe so this is the perfect time to pick them to make a plum version of "sloe gin", a liqueur made from sloe berries, plentiful in the UK, but not here.  So a group of visiting women friends (our sons all grew up playing soccer together!) and I picked the plums, with Arnold coming to our rescue! We shook the tree and collected the fallings on a plastic sheet and Arnold climbed up in the tree to get the high plums.

    Everyone loves "the Arnold!"

We cleaned and pitted the plums and stuffed the lucious, plump blue fruit in jars with sugar where they will begin breaking down and fermenting.  In a couple weeks we will add gin to the bottle and let them age.  Before Christmas we will drain out the fruit and let it set and then for the holidays we will pour the liqueur into little bottles and they will make the most delightful little Christmas gifts to sip on a chilly winter's evening... another little taste of Ankida Ridge in a bottle.


Season of bounty
Helps to soften a sadness
Sleep sweet ewe in peace

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