Thursday, November 03, 2011

Time to pick olives- it’s the season

So, right down here in the heel of Italy, it’s proper olive country. Lots of benefits to this, of which one of the most important is that you’re not allowed to chop any olive trees down. This is good news for us, since from in front of our land, all the way down to the sea, it’s full of olive trees. This means we’ve no fear of any building emerging in front of us.

The other obvious huge benefit of stacks of olive’s all around, is that people harvest themselves for either olive oil, or olives au natural.  Every plot of land we drive past right now has families out harvesting them for their years supply. You need a serious amount of land, and trees, to make it commercially viable, so it’s nice that it’s a proper cottage thing: you lay out the nets under the olive trees, wait for them to fall off onto the ground, and encourage them on their way with either a good ole shake of the tree; climbing up and combing them out with a stick and a pair of gloves, or there’s a mechanical machine that does the job for you.

Our plot of land has no more than 10 olive trees on it. Hardly a cottage industry. And we (I mean I) did think that they’d be nice ornamental features rather than being able to provide anything of any quantity, but we (I mean I!)  was wrong. Even a handful of trees is enough to harvest our own, so we have already (well Izzy has. I’ve lopped about a bit, until recently still thinking they were a bit of a bony looking bush of a tree), Izzy on the other hand has always seen them differently, thank goodness. If we manage to squeeze any for Xmas then full credit to everyone else in the family! ;-)

One tree produces approximately 3 kg’s of olives. And from that we can get about a few litres. So, with our tiny amount, we can still make enough oil (it comes from the stones which I didn’t know) as gifts and for our own supply for much of the year. All we need to do is take the olives down to the local communal crushing / mill place, and a few hours later they’ll give us our own finest extra virgin olive oil.

We’ve been very lucky so far to have got on the right side of most people around here. (Pop'd into church - Hooper calls it the show, and will be going to Sunday mass at 10am all dressed up.) They’ve given us good advice as to what to do, how to harvest the olives, when we should prune the trees. Our nearest neighbour on the land Franco even lent us the nets to put underneath our first tree. Then I climbed up and gave it a vigorous shake, Hooper and Lily tugged at the branches they could reach, and Izzy made sure we did it all right. Everything olive related – Izzy’s the boss. I’m not patient enough to wait for them to drop!

 So not bad- we’ve only been here less than a week, and we’re already harvesting olives from our land, and turning it into free liquid gold. And we’ve made a good friend in our neighbor Franco so we’re up for trading skills and thing we have, for what he’s helping us with. If he brings out his iPhone and curses at it – then I’ll be the first to help him out with that! Indeed earlier on this week, I did exactly that to friends we were having lunch with. Her iPhone took double pictures and it drove her nuts. It’s a HDR setting thing- so perhaps my ‘social media’ skills will give me some currency down here after all. Hardly enough to quit the day job though, and in fact, I’ve no intention of doing that anyway.  Cut me open and I’ll still bleed 1’s and 0’s.

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