A New Year In The Troodos Mountains – 8th Letter From Cyprus

Another year has started and it’s great to hear from David who lives in the Troodos Mountains and who has been sharing snipets of his life with us.

Hi Sara and all at Farming Friends

Well here we are into the New Year and quite a lot is going on all of a sudden. Well nothing monumental but I see this year as a year of change for me at least. Last week I went to view the house in Kedares with Kleanthis (not sure if that is the right spelling) and met his sister and her husband who own the house. Kedares is a quiet little village almost in the Troodos mountains with a fairly elderly population so I will fit in well! Kleanthis tells me that Kedaros is a type of tree that grows in the Troodos. The nearest I can find in greek is a cedar and as the plural would virtually be Kedares I think this is what he means.  The village has two coffee shops and a taverna (which I have never seen open) but on my last visit I had a wander around and several people wished me “good morning” in english so my greek may not improve as much I hope. There is a lovely old church not pretty but solid and imposing and the views down the Diarizhos valley are beautiful.I understand from Marina the neice of the owner that there are “meals on wheels” delivered to the village so as I get an older git than I now am I should be OK. Indeed Kleanthis says that this is true. The people who run it with government aid work from the old village school which is opposite the house. Apparently they deliver both lunch and dinner for the sum of 40 euros a week. Both are cooked meals and I understand they are hot and delicious so if I get fed up with cooking that could be the answer.

What a delight to travel in the company of Kleanthis who is so interesting about the region. He grew up in Kedares and has many friends still all the way down the river valley. Many of the villages are old turkish villages and although there are still a few turkish cypriots living in them many houses are now derelict. The Cyprus goverment has devised a scheme to allow the houses to be rented for minimal sums so that they do not fall in worse repair but with the strict proviso that no demolition can take place and when an agreement is reached between the two cypriot factions any houses required by their turkish cypriot owners must be vacated and returned to them in good condition.

Indeed he is looking after a house for a turkish cypriot friend in Kidasi the next village down the valley.Much of Kidasi is deserted but the houses are in adequate repair and there is a local coffee shop run by Nitsa a friend of his. I dont know if I mentioned it but she is the lady who should be able to procure some goat manure for me. I assume that this will rot down like horse maure but if anyone knows differently I hope they will let me know via the website. Just as you come into Kedares there is a small church on a sharp bend. The church is dedicated to St Anthony and Kleanthis showed  me a hole in the end wall where people used to be able to put money into a collection plate. The story is that a villager from Gerovasa  a nearby village used to drink in Kedares and as he went home he would stop and reach in to take money from the church. The priest got a bit fed up with this so he hid in the church for several nights and sure enough one night in came the arm which he grabbed and pulled hard saying “I am St Anthony and you are stealing from me” The frightened villager promised to pay back all the money he had taken and also made a substantial donation to the church. True or not I dont know but as a bit of cypriot folklore I love it.

There is also a wonderful character in the valley who is obviously a goatherd. I think he is Indian as he wears a turban and invariably around 4 o’ clock in the summer you will meet him walking along in the middle of the road with his dogs.This is a sign to slow down as usually around the next bend there will be several hundred goats and sheep all over the road. Nobody minds and even the cypriots slow down and take care.

I am proposing to erect a polytunnel on the site. Although the weather here is hot in summer I do think this will extend the growing season. Indeed there are many polytunnels in the agricultural land around Paphos so it is a recognized practice. I recently obtained a good book The Polytunnel Handbook by Andy McKee and Mark Gatter and hope to obtain good plastic from a firm in Geriskipou. If any “farming friend” has advice on this subject I would be delighted to get it. Also does anyone have knowledge regarding the best plants to use as sacrificial plants to combat pests. Aphids seem to be the main problem here as are snails and slugs. I am not totally organic yet but I would like to avoid pesticides if possible. I will not really be growing commercially but there are one or two outlets that may welcome organic type vegetables and I would hope to tap into them.

The weather here is chilly at night but the evenings are drawing out and they tell me that spring is not far off. The sun has returned but I believe that february is likely to be  cold month. There is snow on Mt Olympos on the Troodos which I can see from the roof of my house in Tsada so we are not in the clear just yet. My cats are usually in at night and even the feral cats are using the spare bedroom to sleep. By the way as I will be taking my two cats with me has anyone got tips as to helping them adjust to their new environment. I know that I cannot take the feral cats as they will not stay. In any event they seem to be doing well in the village and are obviously getting food from several sources.

My potatoes are quite sucessful but I need to make a finer tilt for them to grow well. They are rather mis-shapen due to the gravelly type of soil. More are to be harvested soon so they may be a bit better. The lettuces are doing well but nothing has happened with the beans as yet. And I still have not found the water sump but I know I am very close!!

I loved the rabbit casserole on the website and also the article about your foxes. There are some foxes here in Cyprus but they are not prolific as far as I can tell. Tim Daniels’ article on chickens was most interesting and helpful and I hope to be getting some hens this year once I move.

Well its time for some wine now so I send my best wishes to you Sara and your family and all  Farming Friends throughout the world.

David

Thanks David for another wonderful letter, I do so enjoy reading about life in the Troodos Mountains. I imagine the Troodos mountains look beautiful with snow on them. DAvid write’s in such a way that you feel like you are there with him walking around and meeting the locals too.
I think that Topveg would be a great website to get advice about erecting a polytunnel and growing vegetables.

If you would like to read David’s other leters then click on the following links:

Letter 1

Letter 2

Letter 3

Letter 4

Letter 5

Letter 6

Letter 7