In Two Shakes of a Lamb’s Tail…

…over 100 young grape vines are decimated.

Up in the northwest corner of our property, I’ve planted what’s called the “new vineyard.” Last year, I put in about 100 young vines—which the Japanese Beetles managed to severely injure, but not kill. This spring, I planted 55 more vines; this time, I decided to try Concords. Their leaves are supposedly more resistant to Japanese Beetles, and I’m so frustrated at this point that I’m willing to try anything.

But no leaves are resistant to hungry Icelandic lambs. I’d isolated these young vines behind two sets of gates, but early Sunday morning the lambs managed to smash through one set and squeeze through the other set. By the time I came out for chores, hordes of them were working their way through my grape plantings. I chased them out, strengthened the barricades, and then began taking stock of the damage.

It was extensive, and demoralizing, but could’ve been worse. All 150 or so vines are in protective blue grow tubes that fasten to the bottom trellis line and act like a miniature greenhouse. Not all vines had cleared the top of their tube. But among those which had, nearly every one was chomped off (or at least stripped of its leaves). Naturally, the lambs left all of the delicious clover and other weeds untouched. They went straight for the most valuable cultivars.

Yes, the vines will recover, in no small part because the tubes protected them from more extensive damage. But the question is: how strong will they be when the Japanese Beetles arrive later this month? They’d really been flourishing, which had stoked my optimism about surviving the upcoming onslaught. Now…well, we’ll just have to see.

That lamb is sure going to be delicious. Just wish I had some homemade wine to enjoy it with.

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