Friday, 29 November 2013


22nd November
Mark came to help us pick olives today (Brett's going to help him lay a concrete floor next week) and we picked 175 kilos!!!! wow, our best to date was 89 kilos in one day and we doubled that with one extra person; so far we've picked 380 kilos. We have a real mixture of olives from little tiny black ones to, one tree we picked today, huge cherry coloured crab apple sized ones - we liked picking that tree it filled two and a half 55L drums, we had another tree we picked 51 kilos off yesterday and another 40 kilos today, they are big old trees (some of them could be 400-600 years old).
Pam brought Olive (dog) over and she and Looby had a good old play, running round and round in circles - she needs a play mate.

23rd November
238.5 kilos picked today; we were aiming for 250 kilos, as we still had Mark helping plus Chris & Di.
We now have a total of 618 kilos, we're hoping we can get them all into the back of the truck.
Tonight we went to the restaurant, in Penamacor, for dinner; 8€ a head for a three course meal, including wine and coffee; ridiculously cheap.

24th November
Poor old Looby is still scratching; she's had no meat for two weeks and finished her course of injections in the middle of last week - but she's had no improvement at all, so we're taking her back to the vet tomorrow night, we're not looking forward to that (and if Looby knew I bet she wouldn't be either!) but we need to get her cured.
We're taking our olives to the mill on Tuesday afternoon, then going back on Thursday to watch them being pressed - so excited!! We have no idea how much oil we'll get, we've heard several different ways of working it out, from - each 5.5 kilos of olives yields 1L of oil (which means we could come away with over 100L of oil) to 10-12 kilos of olives are needed for 1L oil (we would only get about 50L); it's dependant on so many variables ....... the type of olives, when you pick them (ripeness), the weather that year (rainfall v sunshine), etc. it's impossible to predict.
Brett strimmered the vegetable garden in preparation for cultivating it tomorrow, next Monday we'll go into Fundao market and buy some plant 'plugs' (it's too late to grow my own).
'Before photo'
We designed labels for our wine (red & white), olive oil and olives - just so they all look pretty on our shelves!

25th November
Another bright sunny winter's day!
Brett got out our, brand new, walking tractor, swapped the wheels for the tines and .......... we couldn't make it move!!! Every time he let out the clutch it would stall, he was convinced that we'd damaged the gear box when the cables were back to front so I made him swap back the wheels and it worked fine. We reattached the tines, they started working with this awful repetitive clang, clang, clang noise as they rotated - we worked out they were catching on something so turned the machine over - they over lapped the housing by a good 1/2" so every time they went round they were striking it (and making a big gouge in it and themselves, and this is why we think it kept stalling - the tines were actually in contact with the housing the first time round, so it was like having a brake on!) - we ended up taking the two inner tines off each side and it works fine. And now I have a HUGE area that I can plant up.
'After' photo!
We took Looby back to the vet he still maintains that she has a food allergy, she's on another course of steroids and if that doesn't work we have to buy her hypoallergenic food!

26th November
What an exciting day; we took our olives to the mill; our friend Jamie works at the mill, he took us on a tour of the 'factory'; disappointingly you don't get to see much, just machines (I had expected big mill stones!). The olives are tipped into a hopper (downstairs) they come up a conveyor belt into a machine to be washed and from there they are transported through pipes to (1) the mill (which is very small considering how many olives it is working with) where everything is ground to a paste (2) a tank where the paste is heated up to body temp for 40 mins (3) another machine which separates the fluid from the solid (4) then a machine which separates the oil from the other fluids (water?) (5) then it goes into holding tanks or, if you've brought containers (which we did) into your containers. But there is such a backlog and we had to wait an hour and a half just so that they could empty crates for us to put our olives into,
Bad picture because it was dark and taken with Ipod
They were then weighed on a weigh bridge - 603 kilos. Jamie reckons about 60L of oil for every 500 kilos of olives; so that's 72L minus 20% (payment for milling), about 15L = 57L we should bring home (we've left containers for 100L, just in case!); our olives are now in a queue, it'll be a few days before they are actually pressed, we should get back our own oil Friday or Saturday.
We left Pam and Mark at the mill (they had their workaways and Rowan to help them unload their olives) while we went home to cook dinner for everyone - they were ages, they had to wait again for more crates to be emptied (their weigh-in was 574 kilos). Jamie says the best oil comes from olives picked in December and that we are a bit early, so we might pick another load (from our trees) with P&M (and share the oil) so that we can compare oils.

27th November
Brett went to Mark's for the day, to help him lay his concrete floor.
I started on the vegetable garden; I planted - 1 row of Florence fennel (which I grew from seed), 4 rows of garlic (about 150), and 3 rows of broad beans (about 150). Looby came to 'help' and kept barking at shadows, it was rather unnerving especially when I let her off her lead to go and 'get' whatever she was barking at and she sidled up to me as if she wanted protection! There was nothing there, I went and looked, stupid dog!
Because I still can't shut my eye (Bell's Palsy) I have to put drops in it at night, last week I was having ear drops at night too; it had to happen ...... I put ear drops in my eye tonight and it hurt something chronic, my eye turned bright red, ouch, ouch, ouch!!!!!!

28th November
It's cold and frosty in the mornings so today I got dressed under the covers!
What's that saying 'be careful what you wish for'? I wanted a big vegetable garden ........ Brett has been out with the new toy today, now I have an absolutely MASSIVE vegetable garden, it's HUGE, it's daunting!!!
I think perhaps he's getting carried away - but it does look good, all the freshly turned soil (Mr Louis would be impressed).
Tonight we had Tiras de Chocos and chips, we don't know what it is but we think it could be cuttlefish, it tasted like calamari but it was in squares instead of rings (egged, floured and fried), it was good and we think it would work barbequed.
We watched Prometheus tonight; it was weird I didn't understand why ..... the aliens were trying to kill the humans, the robot spiked the doctor's drink and then he impregnate the female doctor with this squid thing, which she aborted but it still lived, and  grew absolutely huge. In fact when I think about it none of it made sense!, ah .... Brett says the sequel was Alien!

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