As I spend more time at Rucksack staring out into the Cab Franc and Chenin Blanc, and I spend just about every morning working in my own vineyard out in Pleasant Valley, I tend to notice all of the nature around me, I mean how couldn’t you…right? Now…it is really easy to focus on the aspects of the natural world around us that cause difficulties, headaches and problems for us in the vineyard such as gophers, leaf hoppers, birds, rabbits, bear, deer and weeds, just to name a few. However, I really would not be honest or treating Mother Nature fairly if I didn’t also mention the natural residents whom can be quite helpful assistants to us out in the field. As there are many examples of helpful creatures, I am going to focus on three that go a little under the radar: an insect, a reptiles and a mammal.
First off, we have those cute little red and black insects that children love to wear on their clothes…the Lady Bug (Coccinellidae). These little vineyard warriors definitely do their part in keeping other insects at bay. We love seeing these little beauties hanging out on our vines.
Next, is snake species and one of my favorite residents, the King Snake (Lampropeltis Getula Californiae). These gorgeous black and white banded snakes can be startling at first, after all they are a snake, but in addition to being non-venomous, they take care of rodents and keep the Rattlesnake population under control.
Although there are many more species of helpful creatures in the vineyard, and I could go on for a while, the final one that I am going to talk about is the Coyote (Canis Latrans). These helpful guys and gals keep the rabbits at bay in addition to digging for gophers and vols. Plus, there are fewer animals prettier than a well fed, healthy Coyote with that gray and reddish brown fur blowing in the wind.
Well…as I said before, there are a number of wild creatures that cause headaches and difficulties in the vineyard but we, as farmers, would be seriously remiss if we forgot about all the help that Mother Nature gives us as well. That is why we do our best to use nature friendly and sustainable farming methods.
The Broadway musical and animated movie, The Lion King, said it best…“It’s the circle, the circle of life.”