Lots of people have asked how we got on with our first olive harvest, and I thought it was about time I got a post together about it. We’ve been so busy with our regular jobs since we finished harvesting and pressing that there hasn’t really been time to sit down and think about it. We can’t wait until the farm is our regular job, but that’s still some way off. It’s kind of frustrating, because there are soooo many things we want to do with the place, but while we’re not able to live there full time we’re fairly limited. We do appreciate though that we are incredibly lucky to have found this farm, which we love so much already, and that we’ve been able to get this far with it. So although as a generation we’re not known for our patience, it’s something we’ll have to accept!
So, olive harvesting. And pressing. We knew it was going to be a challenge, and we’d done everything we could to prepare for it, but wow! Easily the steepest learning curve I’ve been on since graduating and that first day at work. I tend to beat myself up about things, and I keep thinking we could have done more, but really I know that we did as much as we could in the time we had. Both in terms of pre-harvest prep, and while we were there.
The most important thing to us at the moment is that we enjoyed every minute. We were exhausted pretty much all the time, but with smiles on our faces. We were exceptionally lucky with the weather, which was very mild for the time of year. We’d taken thermals and loads of layers (and hats, gloves, and scarves) but many days we didn’t need them. I never dreamt I’d be harvesting olives in Tasmania, in winter, in a T-shirt!
— FarmerFi (@freshfieldgrove) June 26, 2014
We loved being outside in the clear, fresh Tasmanian air, with fabulous views of the Coal River Valley all around us, and blue skies above. And at night the stars were amazing, with a big splash of Milky Way.
The olive trees are beautiful, even though ours are young, and not the ancient knarled, knotted, twisted ones. There’s something meditative about picking by hand. Just concentrating on the job and hearing the birds twittering, and the neighboring lambs baa-ing. Or chatting and catching up with the wonderful friends and family who came to help out. Not only did they come and pick olives, they brought us food, invited us round for dinner, helped us figure out the press, admired the farm, and didn’t ever tell us they thought we were insane.
We only picked a fraction of the olives in the grove. Once we realised what sort of proportion we were going to get around we concentrated on the fruit which was easiest to get to, and left the stuff which was too high. We managed to get the press working, although it took me about an hour to work out how to plug it in and turn it on! We were very, very excited when oil first flowed out, on what turned out to be a rather late night as everything obviously took longer than expected…
Well, this post has got longer than I’d planned, and I haven’t really got very far in telling you about anything! But I need to get back to doing some boring paperwork type stuff, so I’ll write more in coming posts about what we did, and what we want to do over the next twelve months. And if there’s anything you’d like to know, please ask. For now I’ll leave you with a picture of our pungent and peppery extra virgin olive oil 🙂 FFx