Wednesday, 22 February 2012

February 20th - a hot day at the grove

The forecast was for 37 degrees, and an easterly blew all day.  Usually we get an early sea breeze, but not this time.  Tania was there when I arrived.  She had been skirting the Koroneiki since 7 am and there was a great pile of prunings.  (Skirting involves clearing away all the hanging growth below 800 mm so that mechanical harvesters can access the trunk easily).  Chipping prunings is my least favorite job.  The prunings have to be stacked and trimmed and dragged to the chipper and lifted and poked in.  We have a Hansa Chipper, which does a good job, but I wish we had got the more powerful model.  Ours has about a 9 hp motor.  You can get one with a 20 hp motor, which would make very short work of the big bits. After 2 1/2 hours my face was puce, and I had lost nearly all my bodily fluid through my skin!  Felt a bit light headed, even though I was drinking plenty of water.  There is still a lot to do, but Tania promises me that she and her sister will be there tomorrow, and her sister is keen to use the chippper.  Good luck to her!
 I put another coat of paint on the bee brood box.  I am hoping to buy a new nucleus, but am not sure if anyone will have them available at this time of year.  One more coat of paint, then I will start ringing around.  I would like to get some of this season's honey - the Marri trees are in full flower, and that doesn't happen every year.
The other job I started was cleaning out the valves on the irrigation system.  I suppose it is because the water is limey, but we get a fair bit of scale build up, and leaks pop out around the various seals.  Then there are all the irrigation loops around the trees - we have a circle of drippers around each tree.  Every little creature in the grove likes to get in and chew holes in the hoses to create their own private spa.  You don't know that you have a flood happening unless you run the irrigation and slowly drive up and down the rows.  It would be better to walk the rows, but there are 42 and they average 500 metres in length.  I figure that would be a 10 kilometre walk. And it is up and down too.  Great exercise!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Tomorrows plans

Tomorrow, 20th February, promises to be hot again.  Not a surprise for February.  I will be down at the grove again, running down the Forrest Highway, admiring the miniature ponies and camels enroute, and will hopefully get the following jobs done.  1.Finish painting and assembling a new brood box for the bees, 2Water the little replanted olives which replaced the trees burned in last years bush fire, 3.Water the native plants the City of Mandurah donated last year, 4. Clean out the scale from the irrigation valves and if it isn't too beastly hot, get out the chipper and chip the prunings from the other day.  We are 'skirting' the Koroneiki in readiness for mechanical harvesting this season - we haven't done it before.

Friday, 17 February 2012

In the beginning...

I'm Judith, an older woman with a short attention span.  All my life I have been passionate about things for about 5 years, then moved on. (Feminism, psychology, ceramics, heritage roses, painting ...)  But this particular passion seems to be persisting.  Maybe 15 years ago my husband decided we should have an olive grove.  He had heard from several sources at the same time that Australia consumed much more oil than it produced, that our climate was well suited to the olive tree, and he thought  that it would be very smart to get into the production ourselves.  My job was to find the property - he was working away at the time.  The parameters were: no more than an hours drive away from the city, free draining soil, good water supply, under $200,000, preferably on a recognised tourist route, access to three phase power, and not needing too much clearing.  This was such fun - pouring over real estate pages, calling agents, driving all around the closer regions ... it took 3 years to find the right property.  I went out to Beverley, down to Harvey, and north to Gingin.  Sometimes I crossed them off myself, sometimes I'd drag my husband to see them and he would dismiss them:-  'It's a swamp! There is no road in! 

Island Point Olive Grove in spring 2007

Judith at the Grove - Leccino