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Sunday, 2 January 2011

A New Beginning

Ok I know.  Not very impressive those fireworks as taken from our 'terrace' towards La Spezia, but the zoom on my camera has packed up some time ago.  Take it from me, it looked better in real life.  So let's banish this bummer of year with a bang and usher in the new one, it coudn't get worse sure!

First of all an apology if I have caused a mass panic amongst the populace of the village of Caprigliola when I spread rumours that they have been evacuated.  I have meanwhile been reliably informed (by someone who lives there) that the place is still securely positioned on it's hill as ever and only a small scale evacuation has taken place in Albiano on the other side of the river due to a collapsing wall.

Here's a picture of one of the 'roads' off our hill as it still looked on New Year's Eve:

The main road however has been re-opened.  Not sure about the road up the valley, but things are starting to return to normal.

Secondly, from the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank all you lovely people who have been sending me messages of support through the comments, on Facebook and through personal e-mails.  The general consensus was to keep at it and stay positive.  We even have had offers of practical help, financial aid and free holidays in the South of France and Tasmania(!).  As many have said things could always be worse.  My cousin for example had been diagnosed with cancer about a year ago.  They said there wasn't much they could do for him except for very invasive treatment, which he refused.  A couple of weeks ago he went for a check up and to the bafflement of the docs, he's clear.  Now if that isn't a good news story to cheer us up!  He's promised to come down from the Netherlands in the next few days to help us with the clear up as he had sold everything he had and now just wants to get on with enjoying his life.

Today Operation Clear Up has got on the go.  The bad news is that much of the topsoil and many of the beds that have taken years of slowly building up on top of our merciless clay soil have been washed down and buried under said clay mud.  A pear tree toppled over and uprooted.  It fell onto a pear tree on the terrace below, breaking half of that off.  The broken off bit than swam further downhill where it buried a Christmas tree.  Eva the fig tree is buried in mud and Stud as well as one of his female companion kiwi vines have slid down a terrace, but might recover.  Of the few veg crops still producing, about 20% of my broad beans are gone, most the endives and Russian kale, all the cardoons and some of the parsley has been lost.

This means that we will have to rely more on our new found 'hobby', skipping.  On New Year's Eve, after the shops had shut, we went on another expedition coming home with this:

So as you can imagine, we are still eating cauliflower and artichoke soup.

On the plus side of the landslides, areas on the edge of our land that we have so far never really cultivated but generally just kept under control have now flattish open places, which could now have something planted on them.  The reason we didn't use some fringe areas of our land was that the messy neighbours invasive brambles and bamboo kept threatening our edges.  Now all this has been washed down.  And as a bonus the border between their land and ours has become very blurred.  As that land is for sale (with planning permission to build, which I reckon might well be withdrawn once planners see the state of that ravine), the new owners won't know where the original borders are.  So we can re-draw the border a bit, gaining a few square metres here or there and adding at least one plum tree and a chestnut tree to our bit, plus, depending on how creatively I re-draw the border an olive tree.  There would jave been another fig tree too to replace Eva, but that's come down in the floods too.  Seems only fair to get some compensation, after all it was there total neglect of their land that has caused some of the damage on our land.

Also on the plus side is that of our nearly 100 permanent features, most are still there.  Today we got on with the job of securing one bed, before it slides down, chopping up the pear tree for firewood, planting garlic and onion sets amongst the rows of broad beans which have been damaged less (it was the only place I can be sure is still likely to be there by the end of winter) and pruned the olive and apple trees and the hazel shrub.  The weather has improved and depression has lifted, let#s all have a good 2011!


pedals and paws said...

Proud of you guys, keep up the optimism, and all best for 2011. Our offer of help is still there.

Babette and Paul

chaiselongue said...

I've been a bit out of touch with family here, so I'm shocked to hear all of this. You seem to be reacting very positively and I'm sure when spring comes things will improve, but what a lot of work you've lost.I'm so sorry, and I hope you can make the most of the newly cleared ground and get something out of this catastrophe.

Veggie PAK said...

A Happy and Safe New Year to both of you! I wish you all the strength you need to overcome this disaster!

Anonymous said...

I hope that your new neighbors will not be reading how you are planing to re-draw the border... :).

And those fruits and veggies that you "harvested" look great, chard especially!

I wish you and your family a very happy New Year!

Heiko said...

Thanks everybody for the good wishes.

Larica, the neighbour's land has been on the market for some time and in this state I wager it'll stay on the market for quite a bit longer. The veg we 'harvest' is of course not organic, but at least it'll sustain us while our land doesn't produce much.

phishlady said...

I'm so glad to see your more upbeat post, I've been trying to figure out what I could possibly do to help you from here in the US. I love reading your blog posts and learning what you learn, as you are farther along than I with taking action to produce your own food... I really do enjoy reading about your scrounging activities. I grew up in a large family and most of our produce came from good-willed grocery-store employees who would save off the "no longer good" product in a box for my mother to come by and pick up. It's sad how much just goes to landfills, and I love hearing that some people are salvaging it!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hang in there, brother. and yes lets all have a good 2011!

Mr. H. said...

Happy New Year. I admire your spirit.:) Oh, and I love that new hobby of yours, just look at all that great produce...amazing.

Anonymous said...

Good luck "liberating" land Heiko ;-) I don't know if this an Italian law or just a Puglian one, but if absent landowner neglect causes problems for neighbouring land the lazy landowner can be prosecuted. I suspect the law is more about forest fires, but down here if neglected land becomes a fire hazard and the landowners can either not been found or ignore the problem then the land is confiscated and given to landless contadini.

Angela said...

Hey Contadina, that sounds like a good solution! Heiko, kennst Du noch das Spiel "Länderklauen"? You drop a stick and as far as you can reach, you draw your new border in the sand! Ja, wenn es man so einfach wäre! I am wishing you success and enough food to survive. If you need special seeds, just tell me (not before March). All my good wishes go out to you and your land and trees!

Stefaneener said...

Adding some land seems like a definite lemons to lemonade sort of thing.