My daughter and I were planting trees at our vineyard site yesterday when a man pulled up in a red truck. He was an affable fellow of the sort one finds often in rural Missouri. He had a sunburned features and a white mustache. It turns out he owns the house and property that borders our twenty acres.
When he introduced himself and said, "The name's Bernie, but folks call me 'Poodle,'" I instantly felt a warm sensation inside. This, I thought, is the sort of neighbor you want to have in the country. A fellow named Poodle is a guy who knows people. You don't get a nickname like that by hiding out in your barn. You also don't receive or accept a nickname like 'Poodle' if you're a crotchety or unlikable person. By the end of the conversation he'd mentioned a friend with a cultivator and a couple of guys down the road who had also tried to grow grapes. I have a feeling that anything I need to know about the area where we purchased, Poodle will have the information.
But it gets better. Poodle also mentioned the fact that he has a backhoe attachment for his tractor. The warm feeling in my gut expanded. Here was someone who can help me dig soil pits in the planned vineyard blocks. A friendly guy named Poodle with heavy equipment is a good fellow to have for a neighbor when you're beginning an agricultural enterprise in a rural area with nothing but hubris, a few garden tools and a three-year-old vineyard assistant.
Poodle, Bailey and I had a nice chat, and then he drove away, warning us to watch out for ticks as we stood in the tall grass. He waved out the window: "Let me know if y'all ever need anything."
Don't worry, we will.