Friday, 27 June 2014

A Dangerous Life!

I often get envious reactions from friends and family when we talk about what we have been doing during the day.  We like to think that we work here, we are not on a permanent holiday, but our work is very enjoyable... most of the time.

The job of the moment is clearing beneath the fig trees and taking off the suckers that grow from ground level.



Here we have left some of the suckers in place so that they will grow a new branch to fill a gap.


The figs are growing well and in another month we shall be eating fresh ones and when we have had enough of them the rest will be left to dry on the tree or to fall beneath and come September the remaining dried figs on the branches will be shaken loose and the whole lot gathered up into bags and taken to the co-op.


The gathering up of the fallen figs is so much easier if the ground beneath is bare.  So a little hard work right now will make life easier for us in September.  Clipping off the suckers with secateurs and scraping the dried grass away with a hoe does not sound like the most dangerous of jobs.


Take a look at this.....


At first we thought that something from the woodpile had bitten Steve on the arm.  In between fig clearing we have been moving this pile of wood....


.... to this new wood stack.



After 24 hours a single blister on Steve's arm turned into five blisters.  We did a quick search on the internet and discovered that this is what a mild case of Phytophotodermatitis looks like.   The culprit?  The fig tree, the leaves, the trunk, in fact almost every part of it, is full of a toxin that irritates on contact.       Some years are worse than others apparently and we didn't notice it too much last year.  The irritation does not in itself cause anything more than itchiness... (which we have experienced before) but then exposure to the UV rays is what makes it blister like this.


This is why some essential oils carry a warning about exposure to sunlight after use... its the natural Coumarins in them.  Since it isn't an allergic reaction, the usual antihistamines or allergy calming creams and lotions are of no use whatsoever.  Luckily Steve is not complaining of any burning sensation or pain and from what we have gleaned from our internet research (what an amazing tool the internet is... I never stop being amazed at the amount of information out there!) his is a very mild case.  There is nothing for it but to keep covered up while working on the figs.  This is hard while temperatures are as high as they are here so it's long sleeves for work from now on, unless the sun isn't shining of course, which is unlikely... sorry... 300+ days of sunshine a year here!


The veggie garden is also coming on a treat.  All my moans about ants and the water issues are fading away as we get into a rhythm and routine of daily watering and we see the plants starting to flourish.  No the ants  haven't gone away and yes some of the courgettes have blossom end rot but somehow we are more and more accepting of all the negatives as the positives just keep on growing...


.and growing...  



.and growing...



and going down to the veggie garden in the evening for the watering chore has become a daily delight.  Our next task... the coriander seed needs harvesting. Do we know how to do it?  Of course we don't... but the answer will be at our fingertips in just a short while when I Google it!  Perhaps the combination of the simple farming life backed up by the most modern of technological advances is the way to happiness!  Certainly without all you guys out there sharing your knowledge and experiences with total strangers via the WWW our farming experiences might be a lot less enjoyable.







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