Tom, a good friend of mine, encouraged me years ago to build some owl houses and place them in the vineyard to help control vermin issues. A good food source would encourage owl reproduction, and subsequently, as it dried up, the owl population would wane. I made 12 of them with the help of my father-in-law, and used old halved PG&E poles to mount them on. Over the years, they have deteriorated to the point where some are severely weathered or are gone completely.
“Hooters,” “Vic’s Place” and “Bert & Lois” were the first to be built, then came “Cathy’s Coop,” “Dan’s UFOwl,” “Scottland Yard” and “Phillip’s Fowl Ball.” Soon there came “Casa Blanca” — my crews loved that one — that is where El Presidente lives — “Bird of Pray — t ,” “Spruce Goose” and the “The Wine Maker.” I finished it with “Hoo Me?”
I named the houses so I could designate certain sections of the vineyard in conversation or work to be done. The names proved to be much more than that. They have been occupied by many things over time, some of which were barn and screech owls, ducks and bees, each having their own unique hazards. I had to move the screech owls away from the house for lack of sleep (and due to white car stripes). I didn’t argue with the bees. A neighbor teacher used some of the pellets in his high school biology class.
The chef school “Cordon Bleu” came a few years ago, and we did a walk through the vineyard and a wine and food pairing. LAVA enjoys a cooperative effort in learning and using the half acre of multiple varietals. Next month, the Viticulture Club from Fresno State is coming up for a talk on old vine Zin.
As the next generation comes on strong, they will build new houses. If you can’t have fun along the way, then what is the point?
Castle MacLachlan swing set lives on.