Kevin Merrill

Kevin Merrill

It seems like the Thanksgiving holiday snuck up on me all too quickly, partly due to a drawn-out wine grape harvest and a little warmer-than-usual weather. A few frosty mornings helped get me into the holiday spirit, along with the leaves of the cottonwoods and sycamores finally displaying their autumn colors throughout the Central Coast.

Our fall work continues on the vineyard at a busy, but slower pace, with the last of the post-harvest fertilizer being applied so the vines can store much-needed carbohydrates through the winter months.

Soil is being tilled between the vines in preparation for planting new cover crop in certain areas of the vineyard. Sprinkler irrigation systems are being tested after harvest to replace any broken parts left behind by either our hand crews or machines. Hopefully, rain is on the way and we won’t need to run our sprinklers until frost season in early March.

With work slowing down a little and school out for the Thanksgiving holiday, our son Clayton and I, along with his grandfather Jerry and uncle Bobby, are taking a few days off to go trout fishing on the Sacramento River near Redding. A guided trip that we gave to Clayton for Christmas last year, hopefully it becomes an annual trip for us. Something I have wanted to do for a long time, we finally made time to do it.

Our daughter Kathleen is busy at school and practicing breakaway roping. After practicing hooking up our horse trailer and driving with me, she is now on her own, taking her horse to different arenas in the area. He mom isn’t too sure about it, but Kathleen does just fine.

She gets the traditional two days off from her classes at Allan Hancock College for the Thanksgiving holiday, so Clayton and I will catch up with Kathleen, my wife Karen and her family for Thanksgiving dinner in Visalia.

We have much to be thankful for this year. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the folks who lost their homes and loved ones in the recent fires and floods earlier this year.

I realize how blessed I am, especially this time of year, when I get up early on a quiet Saturday morning while the kids and mom are still asleep, go out with no one else on the ranch and feed the animals. Our horses trot back and forth, neighing lowly, as if they had never been fed before, while our chickens run around clucking in their pen, looking for a few handfuls of cracked corn to start their day.

One of our dogs, PJ, an Australian shepard/Queensland mix, knows on Saturdays he gets to come out of his pen when the crews and tractor drivers are off. He has a bad habit of nipping the ankles of folks he hasn’t gotten to know, just like every Queensland I have ever owned. He loves to run alongside my pickup as I drive through the vineyard, after awhile he jumps into the back of my pickup like an old pro for the ride home and a little breakfast.

Sometimes you need to take a step back and appreciate the simple things in life. I am truly blessed to be able to live and work here along the Central Coast. My wife Karen our kids Kathleen, Clayton and I wish you all a happy and blessed Thanksgiving holiday.

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

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