Kevin Merrill

Kevin Merrill

The hills near Los Alamos are turning green quickly after receiving over two inches of rainfall, followed by warm springtime temperatures. More rain is in the forecast — hopefully not too much at one time for our friends down in Montecito and further south into Ventura County.

Hard to believe it is already the middle of January. Our pruning crews are making their way through the vineyard removing last year’s canes. It has been so warm some of the new buds are beginning to soften and the sap within the vines is starting to move, a sign bud break is not too far off, if we don’t get cold weather to slow things down.

I’m reminded every morning how time moves along, as I watch our daughter Kathleen take off from home in her pickup, as she and our son Clayton head for school together. For the past 11 or 12 years my wife Karen and I have been either taking or picking them up from school. No bus service from the ranch.

It’s going to take me awhile to get out of the habit of looking at my watch in the morning, making sure I was down at the house around 7:20 to get them to school every morning.

With Kathleen driving, it frees me up to meet with folks early in the morning when I need to. Not as early as my old boss, Vernal Amaro, who liked to meet at sunrise in the field, but around 7 a.m. can be a good, especially in the summertime. I think Vernal used to do that just to see if I would be there on time.

Our son Clayton is not too far behind his sister. He will be getting his permit to drive at the end of the month. We already have the appointment set at the DMV office in Lompoc, so he can take the written test.

I’m glad Kathleen was the first one to get her license. Both kids are good drivers, having both learned how to drive on the ranch, but Clayton reminds me a little too much of me at his age. I think I probably have more tickets and wrecks than both my sisters and brother combined.

Hopefully, Kathleen and Clayton take after the new me, which has not gotten a speeding ticket or been in any kind of accident in over 12 years.

Part or our deal with both kids is they will have to help pay for their gas and insurance. They really get the point when a $20 bill doesn’t go too far at the gas station. The days of stopping by McDonald’s after school with mom are over for Clayton. His sister won’t stop because he does not have any money.

It looks like I may get two new part-time vineyard employees soon. Kathleen worked for me over the summer for a few weeks and is ready to start again. Clayton would really like to become a salesman at the new sporting goods store opening in Santa Maria soon. He told me the other day he knows about guns and camping equipment, so how hard could it be? To be honest, he would probably be as good as the people they have selling for them at their store just up the road from Santa Maria.

In the meantime, I have plenty for both kids to do here on the vineyard, at least until they are 18. Maybe not as glamorous as selling sporting goods, but it will help buy gas.

Kevin Merrill of Mesa Vineyard Management is a board member of the Santa Barbra County Farm Bureau and a director on the Santa Barbara County Fair Board. He can be reached at kmerrill@mesavineayrd.com

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