Happy New Year Everyone! I hope the start of 2015 finds you all well and looking forward to this year.

New leaves and baby olives

New leaves and baby olives

I decided to take a bit of a break from computers over the last few weeks, hence the lack of activity on here. I even managed to cut down my twitter / facebook time a little bit too! But now it’s time to get back into it, and I’m starting to think about my aims for our olive grove and this blog over the next 12 months.

Suckers growing at the base of a pruned olive tree

Suckers growing at the base of a pruned olive tree

We managed to do some more pruning over the festive period, and we’ve now completed a quarter of the grove – hooray! – although suckers are growing out from the base of some trees faster than we can cut them off – boo! I’m pretty pleased with our progress though, as in the longer term we’ll probably be aiming to prune each tree every two or three years. I love being out in the grove, and getting glimpses of the distant parts of the valley as I move between the rows.

panoramic olive grove

Glimpses of wildlife thrill me too, everything from tiny bugs, to hares, and kites souring in the sky hunting for prey. I need to toughen up though in my progress to becoming a farmer. I was delighted, as I pruned, to discover a perfect little bird nest in one of our trees. Obviously feeling the need to record everything on camera meant tools down and phone out. I was snapping away, trying to get a shot where you could actually see a nest amidst the branches, when standing on tiptoe I realised that the nest looked full. I paused and leant in, and saw a tiny blinking eye and an open beak just above the threshold. Instantly I felt terrible. I’d already pruned away much of the top and central part of the tree canopy, leaving the nest and its miniature occupants much more exposed. I stepped away and arranged the prunings around the tree, so we’d know which one it was, then left the area. That day was really hot, and then windy, with rain following (typical Tasmanian weather!) I fretted about these little birds (variety unknown – my birding skills need some work…) until two days later when we were brave enough to approach, and little heads popped up when we walked past. The parents haven’t been spotted, but they must be taking care of their babies. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for them.

olive tree pruned bird nest chicks

Can you see them?

So my instinct at the moment is to welcome all life to our grove, but there are instances when entire olive crops have been wiped out by birds. Green-fingered friends told tales of woe over Christmas, with pesky possums and wayward wallabies pinching their fruit and veg, and even knocking over young fruit trees. And my Grandpa had a long running battle with rabbits and badgers invading his veggie patch. I guess time will tell to what extent we can coexist peacefully, but I’m thinking more now about how to protect the area we plan to have as our vegetable garden! FFx