When we started this adventure, we were determined to “walk lightly on the land.” In other words, keep as much of the natural flora as possible. Replant only natives and could-be natives. Preserve, as much as possible, existing animal habitats or even make the land more supportive of the native fauna.
I think we can score a big win, especially on that last part. While we’ve plowed up some acreage for vineyards, we’ve surrounded those vineyards with native, year-round blooming plants that support hummingbirds, beneficial insects and honeybees. We’ve had to fence in the vineyards from hungry deer, but we made sure there was plenty of access around that fencing so that deer could maintain their usual paths. In some cases, we even added paths that the deer have now taken over as their own. The best improvement has been making Lake Charles (which is really just a little pond). But with constantly circulating and filtered water, it’s become like a watering hole on the Serengeti. Animals, birds and insects have made it the Town Square – especially in Summer and Autumn when the seasonal creeks are completely dry.
The proof that we are not disturbing the local ecology. The local ecology has started to completely disrespect us. During the weeks I spent up here processing our last three varietals, I got used to the bark of foxes in the night. Little did I know, they were telling me to get lost.
After a few days spent in the City, I’m back and Sonoma for the harvest and crush of the Cabernet. Here’s what greeted me:
Still, it’s not like I’m not used to a tough varmint crowd. In San Francisco, we have a wiley rat who lives under our back deck. Every so often, when we leave the back door open, he strolls in, past the dog’s bowls and dog beds, hops up on the counter and helps himself to Paul Newman brand dog food.
Did I mention that our dogs are a breed that for hundreds of years has been genetically modified to become the ultimate critter/varmint/rodent killing machines? So much for the vaunted characteristics of terriers. Neither one of them has even acted like they knew a rodent was in the house. No we only see that relentless terrier action when we turn on the vacuum cleaner, use a water hose or squeeze a squeaky toy.
So I think we get the Al Gore “Be Kind to the Environment” Award this year. In town and country, wildlife is positively thriving under our stewardship.