Living in the Rural South

First Colony Winery-Living in the Rural South

We’re very early risers courtesy of our three cats, Chloe, Isabella and Nina, who want to eat at 4:00 AM. This morning I’m on cat-feeding duty since Sandy is visiting her Uncle Bob in North Carolina. When I got up I heard this strange sound from the surrounding vineyard. Then I realized that it was one of the sounds that you might hear when you live in the rural South.

This time of year freeze warnings have local farmers up all night trying to make sure that their vines and crops don’t get nipped in the bud by frost. Right now it’s 29 degrees and that bodes ill for our local farmers.

Austin Hamilton, the field superintendent of the neighboring First Colony Winery has been up all night safeguarding his vines. He’s using a combination of flaming braziers and tractor- mounted blowers to move the heat around his rows and rows of budding vines. With 30 or so acres of vines he has a big job on his hands.

Those of us who live in the Charlottesville-area forget that we are surrounded by the rural South. Southern Albemarle County is replete with farms, vineyards and cattle operations. When there are freeze warnings the local farmer’s blood must run cold (pardon the pun). Their very livelihood is at risk as the growing season has barely begun.

Austin has probably been up all night driving his tractor with the high-tech blowers up and down the rows of vines in an effort to make sure that they survive the freeze warnings over the next several days.

We forget that the produce, meat and wine all comes from farms that surround. Mostly, those of us who live in the rural South, just drive by the farms and vineyards without thinking about the sweat, hard work and anxiety that goes into farming. Only when we see and hear the lengths that farmers go to in order to preserve their vines or trees can we appreciate their hard work.

I expect that Austin will be driving his tractor until the sun comes up and the air heats up enough to warm up the vines. He’ll probably be up for the next several days working all night to warm his vines.

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