Friday, 9 December 2016

Inspections and house renovations - an update

So, our 2 years is almost up. We're due for our re-inspection on the land to obtain the elusive permanent certificate of professional farming (or whatever it's called - I've never seen one). Or so we thoughta anyway

When I checked the dates it seemed we should have applied last Friday (26th November) at the latest - oops! i.e. 30 days before we asked the last time and not 30 days before the date on the temporary certificate.

Thankfully the ever helpful CIA come to our rescue and ring the Regione. Yes, there's no problem and no inspection to take place as I passed the farming exam. Why didn't I tell them before as I could have had the permanent certificate straight off? At this point I could think of many responses but all of them in best Anglo Saxon! I thanked him instead and sent him the various bits of paper he asked for and now we await our proper certificate. We always get there in the end in Italy but sometimes the road can be very, very winding with many blind bends.

What it does mean is the renovations of our house will now start in the New Year - hoorah! It's taken a lot longer to get off the ground than we expected and our funds are somewhat depleted (that's what happens when your money sits in the bank - it evaporates) but we're very excited after 5 years of renting in Liguria to be finally looking at living in our own house. Paul and I have been married 8 years and we've never lived in our own house. Ruby has never had her own bedroom (she currently sleeps in the corridor). Let's hope for a cold, sunny winter. No flies and plenty of chance of getting on with the renovations!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Harvest 2016 and organic news

And the fly strikes again!

Yup - the sneaky little critters, after a very mild winter, are back. This time only 40% of production lost in Liguria so not as bad as 2014 but bad enough and has hit us hard again. The olive mills were deserted. It's a really sad sight to see.

We have a plan for next year though - we will not be beaten!

On the plus side - we have done our 3 years of compulsory waiting and are now officially certified organic. Our olives (when we get enough to sell) are officially organic!! Hoorah. We're very happy.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Trees, plants or whatever you call them - the big renovation starts 2016

Given that we'd had 2 disastrous harvests we decided to bite the bullet and tackle the trees. What do we mean? - take one (or several) of our many chainsaws to them. Don't panic!! We're not cutting them down but at somewhere between 4-6m tall they are not manageable without a squad of people on hand to look after them.

So, Paul got some local advice and the general upshot was, unless you're a complete moron you won't kill them so cut them to the size you want and just got for it. The tricky bit comes in the next 2-3 years when you have to prune them and decide which branches to thin or cut out. Ok, we did have a little practice the year before when Paul tried out two different method on two different trees just to see which worked better (oh and we did attend a little curse) and frankly there was no difference whatsoever so he was quite confident in his butchery. The thing is it doesn't take too long to cut the tree back but it takes about 3 times as long to clear up after yourself and stack the logs! Still, he managed a mammoth 60 trees. This is fantastic given that you only have a small window of opportunity for this type of work. It has to be done after the last frost and before the trees enter the growth phase - 3 months if you're really lucky.

He wouldn't let me come to the farm while he was doing this. He wanted me to get the full impact when he was finished.  When he finally allowed me to see what he'd been up to I was speechless. Nothing had prepared me for what I was seeing, even though I knew what he was doing. It was like armageddon! I struggled to say how well he'd done when it looked so devastating. I was excited and gutted in equal measure.

Before the summer was over the cut trees were already growing at a crazy rate. They look almost back to normal just shorter! Another 60 to do next year. It's so exciting seeing the way they spring back into life. It's almost how a good haircut can make your hair feel thicker. 

I now understand why the olive is the tree of life. I do love these trees. They are amazing.