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Friday, 19 November 2010

Olive picking under way

The olive harvest is fully underway at last.  One has to make an advance appointment at the frantoio, the olive mill.  We had decided we were going to deliver our batch on Tuesday the 23rd November, partially because, that's roughly when our olives were ready last year and partially because it was going to be the last full day of our little helper Cat.  However, they told us they were booked out until the end of the month.  After much begging and pleading they finally agreed to squeeze ('squeeze', get it?) us in on Wednesday after we established that Cat could stay an extra day.

So this put the pressure on: olives have to be picked by then, but... Last Tuesday rumours started going around, that were even reported on radio: 20 days of rotten weather.  Apparently the cockerel crowed 3 times before sunrise 5 days before full moon, which according to local wisdom heralds 20 days of rain or something like that.  So the signs weren't good.  So when on Wednesday the weather gods sent us some glorious sunshine speccially for my birthday, although we had other plans, we decided to put at least a morning's work in on our land.  We came home with 3 full trays, but we were resigned to the fact that we would probably get quite wet for the rest of the time.

Thusday it turned out just like that.  It was miserable.  We finished the largest trees on our plot in Arcola bearing the ripest olives, but left a few of the greener ones hanging, because we were just getting soggier and soggier.  We'll pick them later for eating, we thought.

Today we went over to Popetto, where we look after a much larger olive grove consisting of 40 trees (our land has some 15 trees, not all of them producing).  As we woke up and looked out the window, the weather looked good, but as we drove up the valley clouds moved in and it started raining heavily.  By the time we reached Popetto we just waited 5 minutes before the skies cleared, giving us a great days work.

Unlike last year, this year some of the trees gave us incredible yields.  The trees closer to the house, which were in better condition prior to us starting the pruning job last year were heavily laden with fruit this year

So we managed to get about 6 of the trees done today.

As you can see even some sunshine peeped through now and again.  Getting home we weighed our spoils and altogether we've picked over 90 kg so far.  That's more than we had from the entire plot last year and almost two thirds to our minimum quantity as charged by the mill of 150kg. 

So another good day weatherwise and we'll be there!  Grazie alla Madonna!

In other news we took a wee trip along the coast to one of my favourite places, Montemarcello and the nearby black beach of Punta Corvo (in Montemarcello we met the above Madonna, by the way).  While there we got caught out in more heavy rain and a thunderstorm which churned up the seawaters in such a strange way that part of it turned sand coloured, leaving a distinct line bordering the areas over rock.


LindyLouMac said...

I will keep my fingers crossed that you get a dry weather window to get the rest of the crop in before your appointment date. There is nothing worse than picking in the rain!

chaiselongue said...

Lovely to see all those olives picked and ready to go to the mill - puts our tiny harvest into perspective! I'm glad it's all going well. I'm not sure the Madonna looks as though she was a lot of help, though!

GetSoiled said...

Oh man...I have been staring at your post for the last 30 minutes, of which, I have spent about 29 minutes wipping drool of my face. OH-MY-GWAD. Seriously? You just got to six, SIX, of your trees today? Holy Saint Pete, you have more than six olive trees????? Dude, you are the luckiest man on earth in my book. I LOVE OLIVES. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE them! I am so happy you have so many!...and your blog looks so darn great, love the changes you made...although after a few (who's counting?) glasses of Chianti and a huge dinner I think it looks even more psychodelic than it even is :-) I must stop writing now and sleep this wine off...Enjoy yer olives my friend!

Mr. H. said...

Happy Birthday! I am so happy to hear that you have a good crop of olives this year.:) It looks like Eddie was in the thick of things lending a helping hand (paw) too.

Laura said...

Wow, over 90kg?! That is amazing... They look absolutely beautiful. And how neat to have your own olive oil!

Heiko said...

LindyLou, We hope so too. Today we abandoned picking after an hour or so due to rain. Just a couple more decent days, please!

CL, as you can see the Madonna walks over dead bodies to help!

GetSoiled, We have 15 trees on our land and 40 on a plot we look after for absent landlords. The ones on our land we pruned into shape and are just coming back into full production. The other ones we started taking care of last year and will need a few years to recover to full production as they had been neg;ected for several years.

Mr. H, Edie was particularly busy making friends with the dog next door and trying to catch the odd escaped olive. :)

Anonymous said...

I don't envy you all that rain Heiko. We've done one pressing and have another booked for tomorrow and so far, touch wood - no rain.

Belated birthday wishes :-)

Jan said...

You've done very well, and I hope that the rain holds off for you.

jann said...

Such cool olives all over your home page. Pretty!

Good luck with your olive harvest. Just wondering--how do you get your olives off the tree? In Sicily some people beat their trees with a stick, others comb them etc...

Heiko said...

Jann, what you see on the background of my blog now are myrtle berries, ingredient for the famous Mirto liqueur. We comb the olives of our trees, and I've got to get out there again, even if it is raining again... :(

Martha Bates and Mike Mazzaschi said...

Such weather you've had: autumn in Lunigiana is like a lottery. I suppose you noticed the road from Ameglia to Montemarcello is closed due to a frana. I think it will be out for quite a period as the repair needs to be substantial. That road was only dates from 1947. I hope they don't improve it too much, as it is now too narrow for tour buses - making a favorite for groups of motorcycle tourists, and, of course, bicyclists. Mike.

Heiko said...

Hi Martha and Mike, I had noticed. Yesterday we were forced on various adventurous detours due to landslides in Vezzano Ligure area, and we've discovered more damage on our land. It's the worst autumn here we have known, and people who have lived here all their lives say the same thing.