Monday, April 23, 2007


Just had to use that title, even though the subject isn't that interesting!

Of the 1000 or so posts holding up the wires, at least 100 have to be replaced each year due to the ravages of time, the elements of the French winter or me hitting them with the tractor.

The old posts were made of Acacia, a really hard wood that seems to last forever except for the bit at ground level. These are being slowly replaced by thick pine posts at the ends, or fancy metal posts in the middle.

The secret seems to be to replace them when the spring rains have softened the ground enough, but of course there are loads of other things to be doing so I usually forget.

I bought 50 metal posts and 10 wooden end posts, although the end posts are more complicated, requiring a special drilling tool to make the hole - looks like a key to turn off the water mains when you get a leak - and another special tool to corkscrew the tent-peg thing into the ground to hold the wire. A couple more fine examples of how there is only one way to do things in French viticulture - they simply don't sell anything except these special tools and the gadgets that go with them.

The metal poles for the supporting wires seem like a simple proposition - they supply them in various lengths and there are notches in them for the wires. All you have to do is get them into the ground so that the top wire is about four feet from the ground.
But of course the pole supplied is about six feet six, so there's a lot of banging with a sledgehammer by your own French Farmer standing on the top rung of a rickety stepladder. And once they've gone down about a foot they hit some stones or something and start bending at the top (see picture - mine is in the foreground). Maybe there's yet another French secret I haven't unlocked.
Could it be as simple as them using shorter poles?


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