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Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Winter arrived on Sunday afternoon

I'm still without a camera, but I'll carry on giving you some visual contributions out of the archives, starting with that nicely seasonal shot of a pomegranate from last year round about this time (our own pomegranate does alas not produce yet, it was only planted last year).
Sorry I've been off-line for a bit. After getting the olives pressed we gave the olive grove a few days rest, partially because we had neglected our own plot for a bit and partially because the car played up, making it difficult to reach the place. The weather had continued to be balmy and at times positively spring-like. Hence weeds were still happily growing alongside our crops. Susan attacked them around the broad beans, peas, fennel, celery and strawberries (we're still picking the odd one!). I in the mean time dug over the former tomato terrace, still finding a few potatoes (from the year before...) and pruned some of the fruit trees.
By last weekend we managed to sort out the car (leaving us considerably poorer) and we got back into the olive grove to prune the remaining dozen or so trees. Before we could get stuck into that, we had a bit of tidying up to do. In the rush to get as many olives as possible harvested, I had left the prunings to lie where they fell. there were now so many of them that we couldn't move along the terraces any more!
So picture this if you will (in the absence of any current photos, you're going to have to use your imagination a bit more): There are 5 terraces with some 40 olive trees. The terraces are not quite as steep as the 18 on our land (any steeper and we would fall off the side of the mountain together with our herd of mountain goats), (no, we don't really have any mountain goats), (too steep for them...), but still, steep enough. Some of the trees, especially on the lower terraces, I had to reduce considerably in size, i.e. from something like 20 foot to more like 10 foot. The only sensible way of getting rid of all the leafy, twiggy part of the prunings is to burn them on a large bonfire. The larger parts can be cut into logs for firewood and than taken home.
The only safe place to light said bonfire is on the top terrace, whilst the car is parked another terrace above that. So yours truly runs up and down those terraces, each time returning with an armful of cuttings to carry them to her indoors, sorry her outdoors, who has the cushy job of keeping herself warm by the fire, making sure it wasn't setting the village alight. Occasionally I would have to clamber up even higher with the really heavy bits of timber.
And all that for TWO SOLID DAYS! The first 1 1/2 days of the procedure, we both were shedding layer after layer of clothing as the sun shone on us and we were keeping ourselves warm (as I say, me working and Susan by the fire...), but by Sunday afternoon, all of a sudden, winter arrived. No it hasn't snowed, but a chilly, stiff northern wind has been blowing down the valley ever since. So this gives you an idea how much we have already cut off those trees, and we've got another dozen trees to go. Mind you we won't have any shortage of firewood for a while. Every time we return from there, the car is full to the rafters.
Here's a wintry sunrise view from our bedroom window onto the Versilia coastline.

And here a wintry view of our village from above:

While we are on village views, here is a nice drawing of our village. We live in the large house just in front of the church tower.

Anyway, to fight off the big chill, we lit a big olive wood fire in our kitchen (we do have a fire place with chimney, so don't worry...) and finally got to do the annual Christmas biscuit baking fest. About 10 different varieties this year! It's nothing like an evening by the fire with the smell of freshly baked Christmas biscuits. It takes me back to my childhood (although we didn't have a fireplace, but an oil oven which stank the place out something chronic).


Mr. H. said...

Be careful or you will have legs like a mountain goat pretty soon.:) It sounds like you are getting quite the workout. Your visual explanation was excellent, I feel as if I was there...I wish I was there, it started snowing out here last night and still is.

I can't believe you are still getting strawberries...pretty cool. The biscuits sound yummy. Don't you just love the heat put off by a fireplace, I am sitting next to one as I type this.

Heiko said...

Mike, I wish you were here too and could give me a hand! It's a lot of work.

chaiselongue said...

That sounds like hard work! I still envy you your olive grove, though. Olive wood must be good for firewood as it's slow growing.

Even though your descriptions make great word-pictures, I'm looking forward to you getting a new camera. It looks as though you live in a very beautiful place (not that I can complain about where I live which is also beautiful!).

Angela said...

You live in that big house in front of the church?? Wow! But not alone I suppose? Where is all your land then? Behind the church? Me, I can`t quite imagine things. I must see pictures.
But you really do sound hard-working! Now have a little rest!

Ruralrose said...

Awesome post even sans photos - farming is hard work, every year you remember the one before and try to make the next easier - glad to hear you are doing well and that you have no problem letting your woman stay warm by the fire (perhaps a trade off for the biscuits, lol). Merry Christmas you two!

Heiko said...

Angela, No we only occupy the former servant's quarters of the former palazzo of the Marquis of Remedi. Our land alas is on the other side of the valley, 10 km away.

Ruralrose, doing the big job on the olives this year, we're hoping to have an easier job the coming years. I was in charge of the biscuit baking as well though. I used almost 2 kilos of butter, so we can fatten ourselves up a bit after all that hard work!

Chaiselongue, yes olive is one of the best firewoods, burning slowly and generating lots of heat. It will even burn while still green, because of the oil content of the wood. We'll just be throwing plenty of salt and pepper on it, they say it's to be well seasoned...

Ayak said...

I'm always incredibly impressed at how much work you do. You and Susan must have so much energy.

Lovely pics too. We have pomegranate trees in our garden and I had a few smallish fruit this year. The ones on father-in-law's land on the outskirts of the village were very impressive though..they were huge and so juicy.