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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Anus miserabilis or of Vertigo

In the famous words of the Queen, this truly has been an Anus Miserabilis (a miserable arse of a year, excuse my French!)  Yields on everything were already low due to an unusually cold spring followed by a wet and often cool summer followed by deluges of rain during autumn and now winter.

The snow from last week did not last long and was soon replaced by more rain.  Big rain!  Bad rain!  The first inkling that the rain just a couple of days before Christmas wasn't just some more rain was when we received a phone call from our friends Pam and John as they were on their way to their holiday home on the other side of the valley.  They were asking for advice how they'd get home as most roads in the valley appeared to be closed.  The last part of the journey which should have taken them half an hour took them 5 hours!

Christmas Eve and Chistmas Day we spent quietly at home, not listening or watching any news and hoping things would just settle down by next time we went out.  Although we had already discovered that a rough unpaved road down our hill was blocked in various places due to landslides and various houses had been cut off from the outside world.

On Boxing Day we were invited for lunch with friends up the valley a bit.  As we took the car out we discovered that 2 more roads down our hill were also closed for the same reason, including the main road down.  So we took a little side road over the hill towards our neighbouring village of Caprigliola.  The road was bumpy but passable, but when we got to Caprigliola it seemed eerlily quiet...  Subsequently we found out that the village had been evacuated, because it's in danger of falling off the mountain.  It has stood at this place for over a 1000 years with it's bulky Medieaval fortification walls!  As we finally made it down into the valley it transpired that the only road up the valley apart from the toll motorway was also shut in 2 places.

After all that I was getting very aprehensive what we would find once we managed to get back to our land, and with good reason.  Today we finally got over to Arcola, where our plot is situated.  The town itself was caked in stinking mud, presumably due to a broken drain pipe.  The last time I smelled anything like this was in the slums of Bombay during monsoon season!

Then the first glimpse of our land:

This is actually mostly the plot next door, which has been neglected for years, but a lot of what came down on their side swamped the edges of our land.


This reapir from the last landslides didn't withold the next avalanche.


And new landslides developed taking down another kiwi plant with it.


The foundations of my earthship are buried and a pear tree fell over it.

just devastating...

Some of my broad beans buried under mud.


It's not entirely clear any more where the border between our land is and next door's.  On the plus side many of their invasive brambles have been buried in mud too...

Under that are the remains of Eva the sweet fig tree...

most of our land as seen from the (messy) neighbour's side.  Our bit is below the red line.  You can clearly see the scars in the earth.
Now is the time we should be planning for next season, collecting manure from our neighbour to apply to future beds.  But what can I do?  For the moment the rain has let off, but for how long?  The earth is beyond saturation point.  I don't know which beds will still be horizontal next week.  All of the 18 terraces have been affected somehow by either bits broken off or bits falling on it.

I feel like thowing it all in...

15 comments:

vrtlarica said...

Heiko, I am so sorry this has happened! All your efforts destroyed in one day...

I hope you will find the strength to re-build the terraces.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

WOW! thats amazing! and horrible! and amazingly horrible! please be very very careful!!! yikes!

sending well wishes,
sis

Mr. H. said...

I'm so sorry my friend, that looks to be such a terrible mess. You two have put so much work into all of your terraced beds...so frustrating. I hope your rainy weather lets up soon.

Anonymous said...

How absolutely awful. The landslides are really shocking. The whole area is suffering, but hopefully the rain will hold off for a little and give your beds a chance to dry off.

Sheila (CiaoLunigiana.com)

Ayak said...

Oh Heiko this is devastating. All your hard work. I feel so sad for you and Susan. I really really hope you can salvage something from all this and that the bloody rain stops.

Please try to stay positive...don't give up yet.

Sending you both hugs xxx

pedals and paws said...

So, so sorry! What can we do? Digging in May, would that help? We will be away until then, but are happy to offer practical/manual help any time after that. Seeds? Can we send you some? Place to get away? Our house will be empty for February, if you can get here it is yours.

Thinking of you

Babette and Paul

MikeH said...

Ouch. My sympathies.

In looking at the picture with the red line, your neighbour's overgrown plot doesn't seem to have had the same damage as yours. Is it possible that there is a solution there? Perhaps you need to alternate some of your terraces with deeply or densely rooted plant material to provide a better anchor for the soil.

Then again, I'm probably reading the picture entirely incorrectly.

Veggie PAK said...

I am so sorry for your devastating troubles. But, look at it this way... you are both safe! You have it in your heart to give it a go again, and you will.

I wish you the strength necessary to recover from this mess.

Heiko said...

Thank you everybody for your sympathies also through personal messages and Facebook. Just to answer a to a couple of you.

MikeH the picture with the red line is taken from the messy neighbou's land, which itself is not visible. You can see there much worse damaged land on the top photo. We have almost a hundred trees and shrubs on our land and bar 1 kiwi, a pear tree and a fig tree all remain relatively unscathed. It's the flat bits for growing veg inbetween which have vanished.

Babette, thanks for the offer of help and a get away. If you feel like digging in May, no doubt we won't have finished by then. As for staying at yours, tempting, but we'll probably come some time when you are there too.

A friend just sent me this link of the floods about 2km from our land: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qI9dKfPyFLM

Kate said...

Oh no, Heiko!

The climate is getting so chaotic nothing can be predicted. And this kind of damage is world wide now, not just "somewhere else". And still there are those that think it will all just go away....

I am so sorry for you Heiko. Maybe a little holiday in Tasmania would help??

Guy said...

We always have in the back of our minds that nature could take away a years work and have come close to it a couple of times - still won't make us feel remotely better if or when it happens. Sympathy and understanding from Somerset - don't give up.

contadina said...

Oh Heiko, I really feel for you.

Take a little time for yourselves away from your land as it sounds as though there is nothing you can do at the moment and it will only depress you further, if you start fighting a loosing battle.

Hopefully the land will have dried out sufficiently in a couple of weeks time allowing you to make repairs and get everything prepped for the spring growing season. In the meantime, maybe you could sow seeds in old loo rolls or pots; so at least you can get some seedlings on the go and feel like you are doing something.

Rick and Pat said...

Oh Heiko.
I feel for you both so much, and understand how you must be feeling, I know how I would be if it was us..
Nothing anyone can say really will help. But I think Contadina is right, start planning again... the soil will still be there... maybe in a different place to usual.. but there to plant in. As soon as things pick up here I have plenty of seeds to send you.
How about colecting wood now and then when it does finally settle down weatherwise, maybe for this year build some box beds in the areas where the soil has landed... if you try to re arrange it all back to how it was you'll never have time to plant this season... so do some this year and work on it...
But for now... leave it.. more rain is bound to happen and you'll only get more dispirited if you keep trying to fix it now.. take a rest, plan for the worst case scenario and wait to see...
Anything I can help with.. let me know..
Pat
www.livingthedreamportugal.com

Mike Mazzaschi / Martha Bates said...

Geologic events shouldn't be so personal! Maybe La Befana will leave you a Bobcat. We'll be around in May to help work or complain.

sunflower said...

Oh dear!
I don't know what I can say that will be of any use to you!
Maybe try to think of this as change rather than devastation?
Is it possible that when things settle the masses of topsoil washed onto your land will be easier to cultivate? or add fertility? or import useful seeds?

As someone else said, you are safe. You haven't been evacuated for fear of sliding down a mountain! And eventually the sun will come out again and you will remember why you chose this life and this location.

Keep warm, I hope 2011 brings you new hope and vigour!
Tara.