Monday, 7 December 2015

OLIVE HARVESTING ...

Friday 13th November
Brett went to work and I was bored! There's only so much housework I can (be bothered to) do .....
I posted my blog, which takes an awfully long time - I blame the tablet; to start off with it's not possible to 'cut and paste' a whole document (though it will 'cut' a whole document but not 'paste' it all, so then I lose half my blog!!!!!) and uploading photos, don't get me started on that - suffice to say I have a hate, hate, relationship with my tablet!
On a positive note I only took one co-codamol last night and have taken no Ibuprofen today, the neuralgia is getting better (phew).
Terrible breaking news .......

14th November
Horrendous acts of violence in Paris last night; so much hatred, it's heartbreaking, I can't comprehend it.
Oh no, I managed to shrink one of my new dresses when I did the washing on Thursday; it fits rather too snuggly now - hopefully it will stretch.
I went to class (on my own again), I feel very virtuous!
Brett hurt his back when he was letting out the goats.
I finished sewing my last dress 😀.
This evening we went to a 'vinho e licor' festa (wine and liqueur) in Sao Migel de Acha; there we met up with Diane & Thomas (who live there and had been at the festa since lunchtime!), Chris & Di, Baptiste, Richie, plus Steve & Keren, Bridget & Stephan and a host of other expats I don't know the names of.
We stayed for several hours, so we could see/hear the musical acts - it was Fado (traditional Portuguese 'folk' music); it's weird the singer doesn't appear to take any notice of the instruments, singing in a different rhythm, it's not in the least bit catchy, it's slow and passionate .... I have to say I don't like it!

15th November
Another carboot sale; but I opted out of this one, choosing to go as a buyer rather than a seller. And thank goodness I did .... Firstly: it was held in a big car park up past the Camera (Town Hall); great, you would think, except that the road up to the Camera was shut off for road works and no diversion notices posted! Secondly: all, barr one, of the stalls were run by expats and all the buyers (while I was there) were other stall holders and the few expats who didn't have stalls - I bought some dvds.
There was a chestnut festa with pig roast, on the same site, this evening; but we didn't go.
I wore my shrunk dress all day and it has gone back to it's original size except for the length - I'm now wearing a mini dress (which is fine as I'm wearing it over stripey leggings).

16th November
I helped Brett line up posts in the big field (it's a very important job!) and cooked - Nicky & Rich are coming round tomorrow evening.
Goodness,  sourdough bread takes a long time to prepare - a week for the starter (feeding every 12 hours), 6-8 hours for 'the sponge', 2-4 hours for the first proving another hour or so for the second proving and then 40+ minutes to cook!
My Kombucha tastes like vinegar! I don't know if that's how it's supposed to taste or if my one has gone off - definitely an acquired taste! And the scooby looks strange;
but I messaged Michelle (who gave it to me) and googled it, and I think it's ok.
My creme caramels worked well, so that's a positive; and the filling for the chicken pie tastes good.
So tomorrow all I have to do is prepare the rest of the food, rack off some wine, tidy the house, wash the floor,oh yes and make some bread ..........
My sourdough bread is not good; it didn't rise well and it is rather (understatement) dense!
I think there are two reasons for this (1) I started the bread about 11.00 a.m. and finished around 10.00 p.m. which is only nine hours (I skimped on some of the timing so the yeast didn't have time to grow sufficiently), and (2) I had to use ordinary plain flour as the only bread flour I can find is packaged as a bread mix, with yeast already added (which defeats the object of sourdough), and, I've just thought of a third reason, the oven had cooled down by 9.00 so it wasn't hot enough.

17th November
We thought we'd try our wine this morning (it's traditional to taste it at the beginning of November) and, if it was nice, to serve it to our guests - it isn't particularly nice! So we opened some of last year's, which is nicer but ..... this wine doesn't store well. So while we were at it we tried our cider - we have 10 litres of, a very good, apple cider vinegar! And 5 litres of a very dry 'scrumpy'.
Brett hates being incapacitated so, despite his bad back, he spent the day knocking in posts.
I made bread, chicken pie, prepared vegetables, cleaned and hoovered the house, washed the floor, and did copious amounts of washing up - knackered!
We had a nice evening and, because they decided to not stay overnight, we didn't drink too much! I even managed to do the washing up while Brett walked the dogs.

18th November
Brett continued post banging; all the posts are in and ready for wire - he's talking about using the tractor to tension the wire (I'm worried it might snap it, but he seems confident).
Pam and Naomi were going to pop in for a cup of tea this afternoon, so I made some Brownies (from Michelle's recipe) - I even managed not to burn them! Unfortunately they ran out of time and didn't make it - Brett and I enjoyed the Brownies!
Pooh, Brett is working tomorrow 😞.

19th November
Well I had a lovely job while Brett was at work - patching the olive net.
The olive net is huge 6m x 6m; it wraps around the base of the tree to collect the olives as they are 'combed' from the branches. Unfortunately our net, which we inherited with the quinta, has loads of holes in it, through which the olives escape when the net is gathered up; so it was my job to patch these holes. I cut off a length of the net and then discovered that the net was simply made from parallel strands of nylon woven at right angles to parallel strands of nylon, no locking stitch, cutting just unwove it!!!!! So I had to hem all my patches before using them and hem the raw edge where I had cut my length from - all this was HAND SEWING (which I hate) with nylon fishing line (thanks Henry!) which gets tangled very easily. And then I was ready to repair the net - needless to say it didn't get finished today!

20th November
Today was a lot of preparation for visitors; Vince & Lola came to dinner and Pam for a cup of tea. First I had to blanch, then marinate pork ribs (we had pork ribs, potato wedges and tomato salad and Lola brought a Tiramiso for pudding), then house cleaning. Once done, it was back to the net patching.
Pam ended up staying for lunch, then we went round to see Di for a cup of tea 😀.
Dinner was fun, we had a tasting of our ... orange liqueur (good), lemon liqueur (good), and geripiga (fabulous, must make more next year), plus some of the drinks we've been given in the past a strawberry liqueur (too sweet) and something unlabled (not good)!

21st November
Hangover!!!!!! And I had to go to class 😞. It actually wasn't too bad .....
Brett has started attaching the wire to the posts in the big fieldh he's very excited as he can use the tractor to tension the wire. It will be great once we are fully fenced, we'll never have to tie the dogs up again.
I made my friendship cake today; it looks very tasty.
I split the starter and gave a batch each to Mieke and Ann as we went to dinner with Ann & Martin this evening.
They gave us fondues; a vat of hot oil that you cooked your own food in, with crudites and dips, then a chocolate fondue that we dipped fruit in -it was great fun!

22nd November
This morning I had to do lots of cooking as Mark and Andrew came for lunch; Mark is staying for a couple of days to help with the olive harvest.
For lunch I made caramelised onion and apples with blue cheese quiche (I made it up as we didn't have a lot of ingredients in the house!), with jacket potatoes and salad. I also made another batch of Michelle's wonderful brownies and some carrot soup - so we have lunch and snacks tomorrow.
Brett continued fencing with the tractor.
After lunch we walked around the vegetable garden and Andrew insisted we must have sweet potatoes as the foliage was so lush (we dug some up last month and found nothing worthwhile), he had a dig around and found half a bucketful!

23rd November
Poor old Brett tripped over the dog ropes (the ropes we tie the dogs up with when they are in running away mode) and thinks he might have broken his big toe, he's in a lot of pain - of course he wouldn't let me take him to have it x-rayed or take pain killers.
We picked 154k of olives. Halfway through the afternoon the trigger on Brett's chainsaw broke; so clever old Mark made him one out of aluminum (thank you Mark).

24th November
This morning there was ice on the animal's water  and snow on the mountains.
127.75k olives (282 total) picked today - the olives were much smaller than yesterday; a lot are still green and are much harder to strip from the tree which is one of the reasons we picked less than yesterday.
Lili loves Mark!!!! He's the only person, other than us, that she will climb on top of (she almost prefers him to us, bitch!).

25th November
Mark went home after breakfast (thanks for your help Mark) with plans to design and build an olive mill/press (unfortunately it won't be ready this year), I'm doing all I can to encourage him - imagine being able to completely process your own olives.
We had to go shopping as there was no food in the house. Then, this afternoon, it was back to picking; we managed 71.5k (353.5). We can only find one mill in the area that actually gives you back your own oil; the others are co-operatives where you receive a 1 litre of oil for each 10 kilo of olives you take regardless of condition or quality. The mill in Proenca a Velha takes 25% of your oil as payment; which is fine if the olives have a good yield - last time we had oil our Nov. picked olives gave a litre of oil for each 7k of olives and the Dec. picked were excellent at a litre for every 4.6k, fingers crossed they're as good this year.
There was a spectacular sunset tonight and directly opposite was a HUGE bright moon - of course the photos don't do justice to the actual images.


26th November
Ache, ache, ache, ache, ache .... especially my hands as I tend to use them, to brush the olives from the branches, rather than the combs.
109.5k (463k total, only 37k more for our target of 500k) picked today and they were all the little black ones.

27th November
ACCCHHHHHEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!
On a positive note we hit our 500k target before lunch, we still continued to pick after lunch and now have a grand total of .... 542k; so we should get at least 50L of oil, though we're hoping the yield is good in which case we could receive as much as 75L. We'll take them to the press Monday morning (we don't know if it's open over the weekend).
We are absolutely shattered after five days of full on physical work - olive picking is nothing like the romantic activity portrayed by television (Olivio margarine/Bertoli olive oil adverts), it's bloody hard work!
Haha, I took off my boots tonight eight olives came out of one and one out of the other (I thought my feet were uncomfortable)!

28th November
Still aching, but I managed to go to class (feeling virtuous!).
Lola and Vince have bought an olive press (very expensive) and have run out of olives to experiment with - I said she was welcome to some of ours as long as she didn't expect help with the picking! I did help her clean them (take out all the leaves and twigs), she got about 15k.
This evening we were invited to dinner at C&D's in their 'Hobbit' house (straw bale), Andrew was there too. We arrived 6.30 and didn't leave until nearly 1.00 a.m. time just went so fast - lovely evening.
Brett, kindly, gave Andrew a lift home (he lives the opposite direction to us). He's (Andrew) picking his olives atm and we're going to take him to the mill with us on Monday.

29th November
The hunting wasn't too bad this morning; we could hear shots in the distance but nothing too close.
We were going to have a day off; Brett still did some fencing, I did the housework and washing - so not that restful!
We met an English woman at the fonte in Aguas the other day, she came to visit this afternoon; she wanted to see our vegetable garden, which is not looking good atm, so I can't think that she was very impressed! I felt bad not inviting her to stay for dinner but she is a vegan and I need a bit of notice to cook vegan food - I'm sure she'll come again.

30th November
Our olives, before we picked up Andrew 
It was very icy this morning; the animal's water was frozen and so was the water pump.
We picked Andrew, and his olives, up at 10.00, drove to Proenca, only to be told to come back Thursday morning - they are inundated and have run out of crates, but we are booked in now.
We could have tried another press; but at this one we get back our own oil and, all the presses are busy this time of the year so we'd have no guarantee that we would get in anywhere else quicker.
Brett carried on fencing.

1st December
I can't believe it's nearly Christmas (and my birthday!).
Brett carried on fencing the big field today and I tiled behind the sink, tomorrow I will do behind the cooker.

2nd December
We went to buy food first thing; there was this poor female dog who had obviously just had puppies hanging around the bins at the shop - we gave her dog biscuits and some of the meat we had just bought! It's so sad, I wanted to take her home but the puppies still needed her.
Then we went to visit M&M's new quinta in Aldeia da Santa Margarida; it's a lovely plot with great views.
Usually when we go out we put the dogs in their shed (which is the other end of the quinta to the house) and I walk them back home while Brett drives back; today, as the dogs and I were walking down the track there was this blood curdling screaming, that got louder and louder, coming from the pig run - it turned out to be the boar who had the wire of the fence caught around one of his back teeth and he was panicking!!!!! Brett managed to extract the wire from his mouth (fortunately Brett is very strong, I wouldn't have been able to do it) and then he had to go and explained to Gary that we weren't slaughtering our pigs!
Brett finished the big field and I tiled behind the cooker, tomorrow (after taking the olives to the press) I grout.

3rd December
It was quite hard work at the press; all the bags had to be transferred into small crates, then carried into the mill, our 28 bags filled 42 crates. They are going to do separate pressings for us and Andrew so he will get his oil back and we will get ours. The people at the press will ring us when our oil is ready for collection; let's hope it's soon as we are literally down to the last dregs of our oil from two years ago,
Looks dreadful but actually tastes ok 
we're determined that it will last, everytime we use it all the debris from the bottom of the barrel comes to the surface!
I grouted the tiles and, while waiting for it to dry, I made a couple of blackboards, one a cat shape and one a sheep - one will sit on the tiles over the sink (I'll let Brett choose).
 Brett fenced the area between us and Gary; the area will become the second pig run.

4th December
Brett had this 'brilliant' idea to extend the tiling all along the cooker worktop - so that's what I was doing while he went to work! Tomorrow I grout, after class.

5th December
I had to get up with Brett (who was going to work) so he could apply dye to my hair (I should have done it last nignt but I was too tired); I'm not a red head anymore 😞 (I haven't got a grey parting either!).
I went to class and found out that today was the last session of the year ....... hoorah (I'm absolute rubbish, I can't remember anything from one week to the next). Class was actually quite good fun; the room we should have used had had its locks changed, Pedro had no key - so we sat outside the cafe, in the sunshine and learnt a Chritmas song.
I finished my grouting; tomorrow we'll put up shelves, plate rack and blackboard - then I'll do some rearranging.

6th December
2.00 a.m. and I couldn't sleep, I got up and made some hot milk - Looby got up too and was pacing around asking to go out!
Brett put shelves etc up, but not the blackboard as he wants to attach that with 'no more nails';
The 'cat' blackboard will sit on tiles to left of plate rack

I had fun arranging things in the kitchen and have made a list of all the stuff that I have, so far, noticed is missing:
Green ceramic flan dish
Pale blue kitchen scales
Antique fruit/pudding dishes (lots)
Antique side plates (lots)
Green Lady of the Night & Day stained glass panel
Acid etched & sandblasted Crow panel
We think we have been through all the boxes now (not unpacked just looked through), we have no idea where these items could be (still in Wales?/lost by removal man?) - I'm very upset about the loss of my panels and am still hoping they might turn up packed with pictures/mirrors.
Sunday morning and the hunting wasn't too near us until ..... I heard Gary shouting, then a gunshot, and no more Gary shouting!!!!! I went to fetch Brett from the big field, he told me I was overreacting-  fortunately I was, Gary hadn't been shot by a hunter!

7th December
Cold, dreary and damp today, so I lit the fire early and made roast pumpkin soup. Brett carried on with the fencing, below the house, soon we will have a 'dog proof fence'.

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