July & August – 2017

The days draw out, the weather gets warmer and it’s what we call summer and boy did the heat arrive at speed! After having so much rain just weeks ago that we were flooded out and knee deep in mud, suddenly everything is tinder dry, burnt to a crisp and we cannot water things fast enough.

The pigs, being pigs, love mud. They also want to keep cool. Within seconds of filling their water troughs, over they go. The snouts on a pig are incredibly strong, so much so, that a trough filled with water would have to be man handled by at least two adults, yet a pig on its own can tip it over using just its nose. After the ritual tipping over, a roll around in the wet earth soon cakes it skin which then means they can sunbathe for a short while before retreating back into the shade of their housing. It looks great fun for them, but gets a little tedious for us having to start all over again, plus it seems a terrible waste of precious water.

Talking about water, anyone that follows our Face Book page might have seen our recent post on how the irrigation water is about to be changed where we live. Ever since we came here, now 14 years ago, and for hundreds of years previously, a network of irrigation channels are used to get water to flood the olive trees, and fill up our various tanks and balsa. That is all about to change. Our water man is furious as he may well be out of a job, and the cost is quite something! It will now be delivered by pipes, pass through a meter and we will be charged accordingly, and that is on top of the initial fee we have to pay to be included on the system. We will then have to buy a mass of pipes and taps which will be laid around the trees and vegetable patches and probably a pump to get the water where we need it. The only positive in all this is that you have access to water all the time rather than once a fortnight, but only time will tell as to how effective it will be!

June also meant “Sheep Shearing time” … Greg is the one for that by the way! Poor Mi Mi was getting a little hot under the collar and despite trying to dampen her down, the sun was too much, so out came the hand shears, quickly followed by the dog clippers, and off it came! Last years’ effort took about 4 hours, this years’ only 2, so we have decided dog clippers it is from now on!

Ready for a trim

We are a large family as many of you know. There are nine of us here at Olive Tree Farm, and we do try to grow as much of our own food as possible. We have had some excellent successes and some dreadful failures, but generally we are always up for trying something new.

Two of our new projects should be interesting. Meat and eggs, we have in plenty, but fish we buy. Hopefully if eldest sons Ben’s fishkeeping experiences go to plan, his new 1,000 litre water tank will be housing Crayfish. He is using an aquaponics system which means not only should we have crayfish in abundance, but herbs will also be grown. It is an interesting subject. He has already got ten crayfish growing on in a holding tank, and luckily has both males and females. They are almost reaching maturity so it shouldn’t be long before they breed. They will then be added to the large tank and using a system of pipes and filter medium the herbs will be fed on natural fish waste which in turn cleans the water for the fish. It is an ingenious way for growing and uses minimum water, so we hope to be able to update you over the coming months as to the success of it.

The second new project is bees. Honey is a wonderful ingredient. We use it a lot in cooking and baking and to have our own would be a marvellous thing. Our new bee hive is now secreted away on a hill to the side of the house and is waiting for lodgers. To attract workers to it, we need to bait it with organic oils. A mixture of Lemon Grass oil, and Lavender oil are rubbed on the top, interior and entrance. If it works, those busy little worker bees should be thrilled to find a nice new home waiting for them. If it does go to plan, they will then feed one or two of the lodgers with their Royal Jelly, which turns an ordinary bee into a queen. Of course, not only will we have honey, but that incredible by product, bees wax, should also be in abundance. This will of course not go to waste as daughter Emma is waiting in the wings to use it in her health and beauty range of creams. She is continuously developing them and they are proving to be a hit with all of us here and many others that have purchased them at the various craft markets she has attended. Again, we will keep you updated on progress.