Thursday, 7 August 2014

10 shitty things about working in vineyards...

There are also some pretty crappy things about working in a vineyard.  So as to represent the job in as fair a way as possible, here are the 10 shittiest aspects of the job, according to me anyway.

1.  Spiders.  Seriously, big feckin spiders EVERYWHERE.  Only one of these is poisonous, and only located in a very small area, and I haven't seen one in years, but to me ALL spiders are the devil, regardless of how much of a punch they pack.  They hide on the vines.  They spin their nefarious webs across the rows so I walk through them <shudder>, and sometimes they hang out in these webs and I can see them from like 10 feet away hanging out waiting to get me.  Worse, sometimes I don't see them until it is too late.  One of my worst days ever I felt something down my top and looked down to see a reasonably big spider nestled menacingly in my cleavage.  Summer is the worst, but they are still around in winter, evidenced by frosty webs.

2.  Earwigs.  I am not really scared of them, like I am with spiders, but they do bite or pinch with those butt-pinchers, and it does sting.  They are kind of gross too.  And they get everywhere.  I have had them drop out of my pants, crawl out of pockets, and god knows where else!!  I've seen a few albino ones too.

3.  Toilets.  Or lack there of.  The vineyards we work at often have nothing more than a port-a-loo or a long drop.  Some of these are well tended to, others...well...lets just say I am not going into them.  From looking like they are ready to fall over, to shit stained everything, to the fact that they house a million spiders...well, no thanks.  In the summer when the canopy is high it is easier and safer to duck a few rows over and have a wee al fresco.  In the winter, it is a longer walk.  And there is always the risk of flashing someone.  I have the misfortune of almost always flashing the boss, who picks that exact moment to rock on up to the vineyard.  And don't get me started about Aunt Flo's visits...suffice to say that I carry hand sani and snaplock bags for when toilets are too frightening to enter.

4.  Harvest.  It is not a magical time of unicorn farts and Dionysian madness where nymphs dance around and pick grapes and drink wine.  It deserves it's own top 10 shitty list, and I will do that next year when that most horrible of seasons again creeps upon us.  I'll give just a hint of the horror: long hours, grumpy people, bruises, and constantly being sticky.  Really, really sticky.

5.  Broken shit.  Seriously, everything is broken or about to break all the time.  My electric pruners, for example, my the fuckers rest in peace.  The spring from my secateurs.  Post clips.  Wires.  Something with a tractor.  Something the tractor ran over.  If it ain't broke yet, just wait.  And then wait some more, because there is no part, no tool, no person with the ability to fix said broken bit for miles.  Get some no. 8 wire and some duct tape.  And MacGuyver.

6.  Dogs.  Now don't get me wrong, I like dogs, and I like having them at work.  It's nice to give them a pat or throw a stick for them when the boss isn't looking.  What isn't nice are the landmines (every dog chooses to shit in whatever row I am working in).  And the dead things.  I like bunnies, especially baby bunnies.  I know they have to die in the vineyards because of the destruction they cause and because of the hazards they pose to workers and machinery (step in a rabbit hole, break your leg and see how much you like them, I guess).  But I don't like seeing the dogs tear them to shreds.  Especially the babies.  And dogs can catch birds too, when the nets are on the vines.  And hedgehogs, on the occasion that there is a hedgehog around.  It bothers me having dying baby bunnies brought to my feet by a vineyard dog expecting praise from me.  Guess what, not gonna happen.  No good dog for you.  Get the hell away from me.

And the other thing about dogs.  They can steal your lunch and then you are shit outta luck.  A few dogs have a reputation for this.  One even got into a house on the vineyard and helped itself to the dinner cooking away in the slow cooker.  That beagle is since banned, since that is his third offence.

7.  Sticking with the animal theme...livestock.  Cows, sheep, chickens...lets start with the chickens...they are just freaky.  Sheep shit EVERYWHERE and having to muck about for 8 hours in said shit is slippery and unpleasant.  Cows don't quite shit everywhere, but the fresh cow pie is like a cartoon banana...there is no way to avoid slipping on that fucker.  And cows and sheep nibble on the vines, making our jobs a bit harder and more frustrating.

8.  Rabbit holes.  Mentioned in the dog thing but deserving its own mention all together.  We hire a full time person to shoot rabbits, poison rabbits, and fill in their holes.  But some always get by, and falling in rabbit holes is rather common.  I could fall in about one a day, or step in one a day.  I even fell into the same one twice within about 30 seconds one day.  I have been working only to have one collapse under me.  And it is always embarrassing to take a dive while talking or leading a group.  I fall or trip on everything anyway.  I do not need the help of the bunnies.

9.  Language barriers, wilful ignorance, and just plain stupid people.  How many times do I need to tell you to not do that again?  Seriously, don't thank me, I am not complimenting you.  I am not telling you good job.  I am telling you that if I have to tell you one more time not to touch that shoot I am going to shank you with my snips.  What's that?  You've just ripped that shoot off, thus fucking up that vine for the next two years?  Seriously?  I WILL STAB YOU.

10.  Hot weather.  Windy weather.  Cold weather.  Rainy weather when the job MUST get done.  Sunburn, windburn.  Dry cracking skin on my hands.  Bloody eczema on my hands.  Bits of vine down my top, bits of vine in my eyes.  And the fact that from all the sun exposure, I will likely look 80 by the time I am 50.  And tan lines.  Tan lines from gloves, from sunglasses, from hats, and the usual t-shirt line, sock line, etc.

The vines kinda look a little like uteruses...uterii...the plural of uterus.  

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