I love to receive news from my penpal David in Cyprus.
Hi Sara and all at Farming friends
I am still not connected to the internet as Cytanet seems to keep offering deals and I cannot make up my mind whether to have broadband or just plain diial up. Anyway Jane a great friend still living in Tsada kindly allows me to use her computer so here is a little of what is going on.
All the grapes are now picked and the wine is happily maturing in the vats ready for me soon. I do not know if it has been a bumper year but some of the sugar content readings at Nelion got everyone excited so their dessert wine should be good. I make a chicken liver pate with a generous helping of Commanderia but I intend to try some of Nelion new sweet wine to see what it is like.
Leo my friend in Kedares asked me if I would give a hand with the olive harvest which is now in full swing. This seemed a good opportunity to find out a bit more about village life so at 7 o/clock one morning I was in Leo’s coffee shop having a fortifying coffee before we set off to the olive grove. He has a delightful grove just by the church in the village shady and quiet. Having spread out the covers over the ground we proceeded to pull the olives off the branches with short handled rakes. It is hard work but not quite as back-breaking as picking grapes. After two hours we stopped for a snack of bread cheese and fruit – all most welcome. Two days later I went to another of their fields out in the valley with lovely views down toward the sea, More olives were picked and we were helped this time by a young Vietnamese girl who works for one of the elderly ladies in the village.
Altogether we had picked some 600 kilos of olives and Leo asked me if I would like to go to the olive extraction plant in Pissouri down by the coast. We arrived down there at 7 o/clock one morning and the place was alive with trucks and excited Cypriots. We found we were about sixth in line so went into the plant for a coffee and some toast. They spread newly pressed olive oil over the toast add a bit of salt and a squeeze of lemon. The taste is wonderful. The oil is so strong that it grabs the back of your throat. It is dark green in colour and very cloudy. I gather that it does settle out with time. The plant is able to run two operations at once. Olives are first tipped into a hopper which then passes them through a windtunnel to remove any leaves and twigs. They are then washed and pass into another hopper which weighs them at a kilo a time.From there they pass into the crushing point. There are some 18 bins each of which can handle one batch of olives.Probably up to 1000 kilos The crushing works on the Archemedies screw principle and takes about one hour to fully extract all the oil. Our load was channelled into bin no. 4 and you can lift the lid to see the process. The leaves and twigs are air hosed out into a spoil area beside the building and the crushed skins and stones also provide a waste item which I believe is used for animal feeds and the making of soap. The oil then passes to the outlet point where you can collect it to take home or leave it in store at the plant. Leo took out about 5 litres of oil and left the rest in store as he has more olives to bring down. He gave me 1 litre of the oil and I have to say that it is delicious and sadly nearly gone. He has however promised me some more from his better olives which are the next batch toi be pressed.
I was telling my landlord Pampos about the olive picking and he asked if I would do the same for him. He seems to own a lot of land in the valley and I know he has a large orange orchard in Mamonia about 10 miles away. The citrus fruits are all doing well at the moment so it looks like I will be busy for the next few months.
I have also started a gardening business for ex pats who leave their houses empty for long periods.Sadly we have had quite a number of break-ins and robberies mainly in Pafos so a visit from time to time will I hope deter the opportunist burglar. I love gardening and the rate of growth in Cyprus is quite staggering.It is time now to think about pruning and training the fruit trees and general weeding and tidying is necessary. Feeding of plants and trees will also be required so its back to work for me
In Kedares I am still picking tomatoes although green tomato chutney will soon be necessary. Also my french beans, winter lettuces, swiss chard and broad beans are all coming on well..Manure and compost and ploughing are the next items on the plot to the rear. Plenty of work to be getting on with and the weather is still warm and sunny. No rain yet which is beginning to worry the farmers but the gales are starting slowly and we have had a few drops here and there.
Well I think that has brought you up to date with the Cyprus life and I hope to be in touch again before Christmas.
Best regards to you all
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