Thursday 16 June 2022

Tirage des bois

Thirty points about pulling wood arranged in narrative order: 

  1. This is my least favourite work.
  2. Except maybe for attachage which is also called liage and which makes the months that follow pruning my least favourite months because the one I'm writing about here comes before the other.
  3. But let’s start at the beginning. ‘Pulling wood’ means ‘removing wood you’ve cut during pruning from the wires’ or ‘tirage des bois’ for short which is French for 'war'. (I'm quoting myself here).
  4. Imagine a vine. Vines like to grow up, but humans like vines to grow sideways (*). This is because a vine needs support or will flop, and a sideway-supported vine is easier to work read: control than one with a support that trains it up high.
  5. (*) unless the vine is suited to a self-supporting system like goblet or pole-training and so don’t need wires hence don’t go sideways.
  6. Anyway so you’re imagining your vine trained along wires and you’re imaging the fruiting wood being supported sideways along these wires and you’re imagining how much easier all this linear-ness has made treating the vines, controlling foliage, controlling sunlight, harvesting and finally: pruning, because you prune last year’s fruiting wood which is — you guessed it — stretched out sideways along the wires.
  7. So now you’re imagining yourself pruning! (and if you can't I wrote a pretty descriptive piece about it here).
  8. And pruning!
  9. And pruning! You've been pruning for months! And finally you're done.
  10. But the wood you’ve cut (hopefully in three pieces but at a minimum more than once) is still clinging to the wire. 
  11. And because it is February, March or April and it better not be May because in May the buds will be out which makes May too late, you need to pull this wood off the wires so you can attach next year’s fruiting wood to this same wire.
  12. Easy, right?
  13. Personally my idea of easy doesn't stretch to activities with a high probability of blindness but I've heard I have impossibly high standards :)
  14. Yes, pulling wood is easier in plantations because first year vines don’t produce a lot of wood to pull. 
  15. Ditto for not very vigorous verging on dying vines like mine (no wood = no pull).
  16. And true: pulling wood in rows that are planted wide and that are flat is easier than when they’re narrow and up a mountain.
  17. And pulling wood, cramming it in a frizzled pile you've ish got jammed under one aching arm (even twigs get heavy) so you can pull with the other and leaving this pile at the end of the row is slightly easier than number 18 which is:
  18. pulling wood while pushing a burning wheelbarrow while stuffing the burning wheelbarrow with wood you’ve pulled to keep it burning without burning you nor anyone around you. 
  19. But this is hell, so it's in a different category.
  20. A vine is a vine, so even if you don’t work with vines, you understand that vines cling to stuff. 
  21. I think the botanical term for this is: vines cling to everything. 
  22. In layman's terms this is infuriating. 
  23. Call me bad at being an advanced species to let a dead piece of wood get the better of me but O-M-G is it  a n n o y i n g.
  24. HairEyesButtonsPiercingsZipsWiresOtherSticks:youNameIt,It’llCling!sThenWillWhipYou! 
  25. Can't they be mulched? 
  26. Some people do!
  27. But you can't if you don’t have the machine and not if your wood is plein de maladie and apparently it’s also not a good idea to mulch every year 
  28. (too much nitrogen you see),
  29. so instead you continue to twist and wrench and get cat-scratched as you pull and pile and the piles un-pile and then you re-pile and then you strike a match and they turn red then blinding violet white which is when you put on the côte de boeuf on what is now a grill. 
  30. My buddy Aaron also wrote about triage des bois! Two pieces in two months is I'm guessing probably the most anyone's written about it ever! A world record! For more on the same theme, read: 'Pulling wood:the least-exciting vineyard task in one of the Jura's most exciting vineyards.'

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