Autumn is definitely here. Above is a photo of a threatening sky above our village. With the sweeping views and our vicinity to the sea, the sky constantly changes. It's much more interesting than the constant blue of summer.
I also love all the mushrooms out at this time of year, even if I don't recognise many of them. This was a particularly nice group below, I have no idea what they are:
This on the other hand I have identified as a Russet Tough Shank with reasonable certainty. According to most sources I've consulted it is edible, but not really worth eating. Shame because we found quite a quantity of them:
We have recently been entrusted to look after an olive grove of a Danish family, who have a holiday home some 20 km away from us in the village of Popetto. It consists of some 30 mature trees. In return for us looking after it we get to keep the olives, any fire wood and we get a small inumeration to cover costs of petrol, any pressing of the olives as well as giving us a bit of extra cash to help us through the winter.
The trees had been neglected for some years, and on first inspection back in early September, it didn't look like we'd get a great yield off the trees this year. So on Tuesday we had decided to take our bikes out there just for an inspection. It seemed easiest to combine pruning with the harvesting of any olives. As you lop off any of the higher branches, you just strip them of olives on the ground, rather than doing this while balancing on the top of a ladder. The olives had turned a beautiful, shiny black and were evidently ready. Now being black rather than green, they stood out much better against the overgrown trees and there were more than we had initially thought. So we decided to get going the next dry day, which was yesterday.
Here by the way a couple of pictures from our cycle up to Popetto at 400 m a.s.l. If you cut out the two photos and stick the top one to the left and the bottom one to the right, you'll have a complete panorama:
As you can see there's snow in the higher mountains of the Apuan Alps and also on the Appenines, I estimate to as low as 800 metres altitude .
Anyway, so Thursday we got started on the olives. We were far to busy getting some progress done and afterwards far to knackered to make any photographic record of this, but we're not finished yet, so pics of olive picking will follow soon no doubt. Well after some 7 solid hours we managed to prune 4 trees to shape and pick all the olives off them.
"How many did you get so far?" I hear you ask? Well, there are different weight measurement units all over the world. The Brits talk of stone, most Continental Europeans talk kilos, Americans pounds and the Italians measure olives in quintale. I have my own in-built measuring unit. Having worked many years in the wine trade I know exactly and instinctively the weight of a case of wine (on average 15 kilos), so everything gets measured around that. One case of wine is quite an easy weight. Remembering that we live on top of a small village, which is only accessible by several flights of stairs, if your shopping or picked produce weighs one case of wine, I have no problem getting it up.
Two cases of wine on the other hand get quite heavy, but if it saves you going twice, you'll carry it up too. Three cases of wine is getting quite tough and you really don't want to be carrying it any distance at all. Four cases of wine is a sure recipe for a hernia. Well on that basis, I lifted up our olives and said to Susan, that's about 1 case of wine worth of olives. Today, as we're having a rain break from olive picking (absolutely miserable today, compared to yesterday's warm sunshine), I cleaned any leaves and other debris from the olives and weighed them, and I was exactly right! Now we only need to pick another 5 1/2 cases worth of olives and we've got enough to take it to the frantoio, the olive mill, to have it pressed for our very own individual batch. Of course we'll leave a bottle or 2 of oil for the owners of the olive grove on their doorstep.
What else has been happening since my last post? Well we planted some red onions and garlic, which is the thing to plant now during the waning moon phase according to conventional wisdom around here. And, oh yes I almost forgot, Mrs Ayak has given me another award, the Dragon's Loyalty Award. As I understand it's been given to me for loyally following her blog and commenting on it. Well on that basis here are my nominees for this award in no particular order. I won't notify you specifically, since if you're not reading this anyway, you are obviously not reading my blog! It is also given to some people who may not actually want it, but if you do, simply copy and stick it on your blog:
Angela at http://lettersfromusedom.blogspot.com/
Ruralrose at http://lifethroughthecracks.blogspot.com/
Stefanie at http://siciliansistersgrow.blogspot.com/
For future reference, I do appreciate being given awards, but I think my trophy cupboard is full now and I rather not clatter my sidebar up with numerous awards. Thank you anyway Mrs Ayak