The work on our house was finally completed just three days ago. All that's left to do now is stuff we are doing ourselves, painting, curtains, blinds, cushion covers. But they will all have to wait. The Co-operative will only accept the olives until the second week of January so we need to get a move on.
And so we begin our first ever olive harvest. The tools of the trade are two fibreglass fishing poles (lightweight and strong), a couple of large nylon nets, a scoop, a wheelbarrow and some containers.
Some of our neighbours have machines that shake the branches but we are using muscle power. Before beginning I was under the impression that this would be fairly simple, perhaps time consuming but otherwise quite straightforward. Most of the trees are so well laden with very ripe olives that we have already lost some that have simply fallen to the ground to rot... I assumed that a good gust of wind would dislodge the rest. Alas, no. You beat and you beat and still there are loads of olives that don't fall off the tree. It is the most frustrating thing.
Once you have beaten the tree until your shoulders ache and your forearms are screaming at you to stop you have to remove the twigs and leaves that fall so much easier than the olives themselves. It is almost impossible to sift out all the leaves and the Co-operative do not mind a few of them mixed in with the olives.
Our olives are all wild. There are no nice neat straight lines of trees and a lot of our trees grow out of impossible rock formations. Laying nets around these is not an easy process. Once your olives are in the nets (and so many of them manage to miss and scatter all around) it is a case of gathering up the olives and putting them into containers. We didn't have enough large buckets so we used the biggest flower pots that we had and then we even filled shopping bags as well.
In two days we managed to harvest nine trees - sounds pathetic but in our defense some of the trees were very large and we have other things to do too. This is why we really needed some volunteers to help, someone has to stay home and put the kettle on, make lunch, prepare evening meal - walk the dog even.