Monday, August 25, 2014

Release the hounds!

On Sunday morning I went out with Callie for our usual morning walk through the vineyards. As we made our way, I started hearing some serious dog barking off in the distance. It got louder and more raucous as we walked. Callie heard it, too, and was interested. Then I heard men shouting and horns blowing down in the ravine next to the vines. It sounded like some kind of medieval battle, but there was no clanging of swords.

If you look closely, you might see a single strand of a spider's web between the stem and the tendril.

Turns out that it was une battue, an organized hunt. I could see hunters' cars stationed along the road through the vineyards in the distance and the hunters standing by with guns, waiting for the pack of hounds to flush their prey from the woods. Callie and I turned back and headed for home. The hunt went on for a couple of hours and eventually the hunters gathered right outside our back gate. We've seen them let the hounds dip in the pond to clean off before they get loaded back in their trucks. It's quite a sight -- those dogs are huge! But this time they got a call from another hunter and sped off to pick up the pack on the other side of the woods.

The season for foxes and roe deer opened back in June, but from what I can tell, they can only be hunted by organized, licensed groups, not by individuals. I suspect that this was a fox hunt because I recognized a couple of the guys from a previous fox adventure a few years ago. The regular hunting season (for rabbits and game birds) doesn't open until later this fall.

Here is another grape vine tendril. This one hasn't found anything to curl around yet. It's still reaching. It's been a while since the vines have been trimmed and the tendrils are doing their thing. We're supposed to have rain again, so I doubt any trimming will be done in the next few days. It's more likely that spraying will happen (again) to help prevent mildew. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if there's one more trim before harvest time.

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