Returned to the soil after three months resting our jaded bones and for the past month there has been no time to write or even download a photo as the vegetable garden is being shaved of green manure and planted out. Our calves are arriving soon. Our new cat is on his way...
The chickens have returned from their part time babysitter, Tante Janice, and we have planted a vine.
You`d think we`d have enough to do than start another venture but I suppose its just a way of making life exciting and testing our back muscles to see how much youth remains.
The soil in Mailhos, at least outside of my venerated garden, is a heavy clay and sandy soil, rich in nutrients but so hard to work after the previous years of of incessant rain and a few tractors passing through but over 40 years ago, wine was grown on its rolling hills. We have a 17th century chai big enough for industrial production to prove it and many barrels that once stocked a probably decent enough fermenting juice.
I`m sure there was plenty of the red "tannat" grape growing here and though I love wine, I have a difficult time with this very masculine variety so we have started off with sixty plants of "petit manseng" and "courbu", two local white varieties that can deal with our special soil and hopefully give us many years of delicious juice. The plants were found in the basque country where a couple of young guys are visiting all the old vineyards, both private and commercial and grafting ancient vine ceps to save the rare and tougher varieties that once abounded in our valleys.
Of course it will take a year or two before the grapes will be decent enough for wine making but in the meantime we can drink grape juice, eat the fruit and feed the wild birds
Emmanuel, our dear neighbour, and Jean Francois did the dirty work and dug each hole separately, drove in a pole and before planting, dipped each root in a praline of cow shit and clay.
No other fertilisation was needed and the soil was crumbled as crumbly as possible to cover the precious roots that will soon go searching for the best of minerals and give us the fruit to make our first Mailhos wine....