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



Happenings In the Kingdom

We are making progress on our army of vineyard and critter defenders.  I left you a month ago with the assemblage of animals for the Peaceable Kingdom nearly complete and everyone living in their separate quarters (new readers, please refer to previous post, "The Peaceable Kingdom Goes to War," for more details). Since then we have added four egg-laying chickens and the army has now begun sharing living quarters.  It didn't take long for the hens to begin scratching in the vineyard and I have watched them eat several June Bugs already. And they are providing us with freshly layed eggs as well.   Good job, girls! 
Base camp consists of a windowed, enclosed 12x20 barracks inside the vineyard perimeter. I introduced the guinea fowl to the dogs with the guineas confined to a small coop. The chickens are in a large dog kennel inside the shed.... all guarded fiercely by a dog named Jack.   The story of Jack is quite amazing and will be shared another time, suffice to say he was nearly euthanized because of unpredictable behavior. But now his instinct to protect is being put to good use and he seems a changed dog, a dog with a purpose... at last... a job, and an important one at that for poor Jack.   When our puppy (now named Guppie) snuck behind the guinea pen, Jack growled him away and then looked up at me for approval. Yes, good boy, Jack!   I will have to capture an image of Jack when he is happy.  He literally smiles with his teeth showing.

The kittens, now named JoJo and Lily by the wee grandchildren, are nearly big enough to join the army. We are going to add them to the base camp this week, putting them in the (empty) chicken crate at first until everyone gets used to them and vice-versa. And we will spend a lot of time holding them and loving them as we introduce them. It is amazing how well these animals can detect which animals are a part of the family.  Up till now, the kittens have enjoyed the deck and living the life of house pets.  We'll see how well their barn instincts develop once they join the ranks.
JoJo shows his gymnastic abilities

And Lily displays her athletic prowess

Guppie catches a mouse!
Little Guppie has proven to be an amazing hunter. He has caught a bunny, a mouse and a skink or two. We found a den of newborn bunnies in a rabbit hole in row 39 of the vineyard.  The inner conflict created by their cuteness led to a bit of reservation to let Guppie run loose in the vineyard. We kept him out. The next day we went to row 39 to check on the babies and alas, they were gone. Either the mom moved them, or more likely another of the natural world found its way to them. Is that critter a part of the team? Perhaps.... as long as he doesn't eat grapes, vines or fowl. But then, we always have Jack.... good ol' Jack.

And nature continues to surround us with new life popping up everywhere... lambs (twenty-one new lambs to be exact!), baby bluebirds and the discovery of our resident crushpad toad, nicknamed "Crush".
Bella guarding the newest of her flock

And how are the grapes?    We started veraison (the time of the ripening process when grapes begin to change color) around the first of July in the Pinot Noir. I am noticing a vast array of ripening stages at this point. I am beginning to wonder if we might have to do a small first harvest, followed by the larger main harvest. Some clusters are nearly all purple already, while the majority are still a bright, unripe green. I will watch closely as the ripening process continues.




  1. thank you for the joy of your world!
    Nancy Hart

  2. Looks like things are coming together. Always good to see pictures of the kittens. --Lauren

  3. Lauren, keep checking Ankida Ridge Facebook page for more pix! They are adorable, affectionate, smart, intuitive kitties... They are loving life on the farm. Good job!