A Note From Cyprus – Autumn News From Kedares

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
David

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

Letter 1

Letter 2

Letter 3

Letter 4

Letter 5

Letter 6

Letter 7

Letter 8

Letter 9

Letter 10

Letter 11

Letter 12

Naked Neck Turkens Or Cou Nu Chickens

I had never heard of the naked neck turken or the cou nu chicken until recently when my “farmingfriend” Sandy from the US  sent me a photo of some hens she has.

Naked Neck Turken

The naked neck turken is the hen in the background. As you can see from the photo this bird has a look of a turkey with it’s “naked neck”, but it’s actually a chicken!

I have read that the naked neck turken was bred this way to make it easier for plucking.

Naked Necks are said to be popular in Europe, especially France where they call this bird the cou nu chicken.

If you keep hens or are interested in keeping hens then visit the farmingfriends hen forum for the latest chat about hens and then check out the books shown below about keeping hens which are informative and excellent for the beginner and a handy reference for the more experienced hens keeper.

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Worming Chickens Guest Article By Tim At Poultrykeeper

Worming Chickens By Tim Daniels of poultrykeeper.com

This article shares some of my personal experiences and routines with worming my chickens.

Chickens, waterfowl and other poultry require regular worming to prevent health problems, yet it is surprising how many people don’t do this on a regular basis. If you are keeping chickens on the same piece of ground, they can pick up worm eggs easily whilst scratching around or via an intermediate host such as the humble earthworm that hens love to eat. Chickens soon become infected, shedding thousands more eggs via their droppings into the environment, making the problem worse.

The worm burden

There is often a small background level of worms in every flock and it is a good idea to keep this level to a minimum. Recent tests by Janssen Animal Health showed egg production went up when worming a free range egg laying flock more frequently so I like to think of these measures as putting a few more eggs on my table!

I use Flubenvet Poultry Wormer at least every 6 months – although it may be necessary to worm more often than this if your birds are kept on the same piece of ground. Remember Flubenvet will kill all common worms and their eggs however, the eggs that have been deposited on the ground will re-infect the birds so it is necessary to repeat the treatment before the prepatent period of the worms is reached (that is, before the eggs have hatched and grow into adult worms to lay more eggs). This is around 3 weeks for most of the common worms that effect our birds.

My preventative, routine measures.

They say prevention is better than cure and there are a number of preventative measures that I make part of my routine in between my routine worming with Flubenvet to reduce the worm burden in my flock.

1.      Keeping chickens in a clean environment – I clean housing out weekly and using a leaf rake, clean up runs when the weather permits.

Tim from Poultrykeeper.com raking hen run

Tim from Poultrykeeper.com raking hen run


2.      Keep grass short – I regularly cut the grass short during the summer which allows ultra-violet light from the sun to kill off worm eggs left on the ground. During winter, the frosts should also kill worm eggs.

3.      Grazing rotation – It helps if you can divide a larger run into two and alternate grazing as it stops a build up of worm eggs. If you have a portable house and run, you can easily move them onto fresh grass. It is a good idea to move them immediately after worming as this stops eggs on the ground from being picked up, re-infecting them.

4.      Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)– I use Apple Cider Vinegar as a healthy tonic for my birds which also makes the digestive system slightly acidic making an unpleasant environment for worms.

What about herbal wormers?

I am a great believer in natural products for my birds’ health and I regularly use a couple of cloves of freshly crushed garlic and Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) in their water to boost their immune system as well as make their digestive system an unpleasant environment for worms BUT I will only use a proven wormer such as Flubenvet when I need to worm my chickens.

My reasons for this is that In the UK any product making veterinary medical claims needs to be licensed and to be licensed, the product has to show both safety and efficacy for the animal involved. Products termed ‘nutritional supplements’ do not require any proof of efficacy and many claims can be made that aren’t backed up with any proof.

Sadly, I have heard of cases where people have believed they are worming regularly by using one of the herbal products but after a trip to the vet and a worm sample, they have found their birds to be suffering with a very heavy worm load.

Further reading.

There is of course more information about Flubenvet for chickens, worming and other articles about keeping chickens on the poultrykeeper website, however I would recommend investing in one book that will cover much more than just worms and much more than just chickens – . Victoria Roberts “Diseases of Free Range Poultry” is written in a clear and easy to understand manner and is worth every penny.

With a little routine care and regular worming, worms should never become a problem!

Please remember the advice given in this article is given in good faith, based on my experiences but please remember it should not replace the advice of a qualified veterinarian who can advise you about worming.

Tim Daniels of poultrykeeper.com

Sandy Get’s Some Hens Who Do A Good Job Of Insect Control

It’s always good to hear from my farmingfriends and Sandy who lives in the US has been in touch about her guinea fowl and naked neck turkens!

Sandy's Hens

Sandy's Hens

Hello Sara,
Well it’s been some time since I’ve checked in with you. We have since removed our guineas to a farm. They had decided to roost on the roof of our house (during ice storms and when hubby caught them and put them in a pen for shelter, they almost killed themselves trying to get out) and on the gutter of our back porch. Oh my the mess they made and the noise. We ended up with 4 our of the original 10. 2 boys 2 girls. One of the boys was quite ruthless to the other. A couple times I thought he was going to kill him. They were interesting to have for a while, but did not do the job on scorpion control that we’d hoped for.

My daughter was renting a house so could not keep her hens, we have them and in the photo is the naked neck, Marie. The rooster has since be carried off by a coyote.

The hens do a great job of insect control. (And snake control too, if you want I’ll send a photo of Marie with the snake she caught and killed and ate.) We have a lot fewer scorpions this year, the hens are constantly scratching an searching. A friend gave me two of the prettiest little BB Red roosters. They decided to roost away from the hens, who we lock up every night. Lost one probably from raccoon. The same friend gave me two little BB Red hens. We get such a kick out them.

Someone dumped dogs out where we live and one chased my little rooster down and killed him. So sad that folks only think of themselves by dumping dogs.

Well Sara, so sorry not to be in touch with you. Life has been well, life. I had started a note to you so long ago and ran across it which prompted me to write this. Hope all is well on your farm. Would love to hear from you. Have a great day.
Shalom Y’all
Sandy

A Note From Cyprus – Life In Kedares

My penpal David lives in Cyprus and I do look forward to his emails and letter. David has beenwithout the internet for some time now but has managed to get to a computer to let us know what he is up to.

Hi Sara
I have borrowed a friends computer with broadband (fast isnt it) so have the chance to send you a little message regarding my latest happenings.
The move to Kedares went well and the cats and I are now happily settled in our new house. Not as big as the house in Tsada but still with two bedrooms and a large yard where I can park the car off the road. I have two flower beds where I have planted tomatoes which have already given me at least 25 kilos of fruit and they are still cropping! My chillies peppers melons and aubergines are all doing well and I hope to have produce well into the autumn.
Kedares is a small village with a coffee shop and restaurant but little else. No shop so I have to go over the hill to Arsos if I need milk or water etc. Various traders come through the village on various days. The vegetable man comes on Wednesday and the cheese man is here on Fridays.
I have no real address so any letters sent to me tend to arrive eventually usually to Leo who runs the coffee shop.
I am off to pick the Shiraz grapes for Nelion winery next week which will be interesting and I hope informative.
I need to get some manure for the land and I am hoping that Neofitys will come with his tractor and do some ploughing for me in the autumn.
I have decided to sell the land in the Troodos. I do not think it will be possible to build houses there and in any event I am being offered land near Kedares which is more fertile and will produce more crops.
The weather here has been very hot with some record temperatues being achieved. Are we being told the full story about global warming!! I rather doubt it. With major fires in Russia and drastic floods in Parkistan it seems that the world is telling us something but are we listening? Any way enough of that.
Well I do hope to get the internet connected very soon so I should be able to ramble on to you all again. I keep up with the happenings on the web site and all the news.
Best regards to you and all farming friends
David

Having visited this part of Cyprus myself a few years ago it is always interesting to hear about village life. David always gives us a sense of the real Cyprus and I almost feel I’m there!

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

Letter 1

Letter 2

Letter 3

Letter 4

Letter 5

Letter 6

Letter 7

Letter 8

Letter 9

Letter 10

Letter 11

Guinea Fowl Keets Progressing Well With Pekin Bantam Foster Mums!

Just thought I would let you know that I received an email from Gary who recently bought some of my guinea fowl eggs for hatching.

He emailed a few weeks ago to let me know that the guinea fowl eggs had hatched and he had 4 keets.

Hi there farming friends, once again thanks for the Guinea fowl eggs the eggs were put under my broody bantam, and exactly 28 days after a good result 4 eggs out of the 6 hatched I am very pleased, the keets are doing well, once again many thanks.
Gary

He has just emailed through some photos.

Gary's Four Guinea Fowl Keets And Pekin Bantams

Gary's Four Guinea Fowl Keets And Pekin Bantams

Gary's Four Guinea Fowl Keets And Pekin Bantams

Gary's Four Guinea Fowl Keets And Pekin Bantams

“Hi there, it’s Gary here, my little keets are doing well and are running about the hen coop with their two bantam mums, I am enclosing a pic taken last week, they are enjoying the sun and surprised me by flying onto the perches like budgies lol, I am pleased to bits with the 2 bantams which hatched them, and I can say I am getting a lot of pleasure watching their antics, thanks for the prompt delivery of the eggs, and very pleased with the hatch, now I am sitting back enjoying them. Cheers, Gary. PS My partner was waiting for them to darken lol”

It’s always great to hear from customers who are have had a successful hatch and are enjoying their keets.

If you keep guinea fowl and want to ask a question to get some advice or just to chat about your guinea fowl then why not join the free farmingfriends guinea fowl forum.

Front Cover Of Incubating, Hatching & Raising Guinea Fowl Keets An eBook

If you fancy having a go at incubating, hatching and raising guinea fowl keets then check out my Incubating, Hatching & Raising guinea Fowl Keets eBook and if you are in the UK then I also have guinea fowl eggs for hatching for sale (UK Spring and Summer months).

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Guest Post – BeeKeeping By James @ The Surrey BeeKeeper

I recently got chatting via twitter with James who is starting out in beekeeping. His website, The Surrey Beekeeper is a diary of James’ discovery of bees and beekeeping, but before you head across to the Surrey Beekeeper, here is a taster of how James got into beekeeping, so sit back and enjoy and I promise you won’t get stung!

Beekeeping

Beekeeping, beekeeping, beekeeping. What on earth was I thinking? At the ripe age of 31 I decided to become a beekeeper. I originally put it down to an osmosis type effect of being a keen gardener but I later decided it was the fact that my father was a Morris Dancer and I was going through a rebellious phase – trust me nothing can compare to the moment, when you are 13 years old and your mates find out your father’s antics at the weekend. Therefore becoming a beekeeper is actually a pretty “cool” thing to do I suppose (at least until my 18mth son becomes a teenager and I accidentally tell one of his friends my secret – I wonder if that is how my mates found about my own father?)

Having said all of this beekeeping is hitting a crescendo of interest at the moment and this is predominately down to the fact they are having a really hard time. Bee colonies are being wiped out around the world; in fact colonies in the UK are less than half what they were only 20 years ago. Each year there is a new theory but still there is no concrete evidence of what is really happening but there is definitely an issue with little mites which are enjoying the game of piggy backing the young bees and basically sucking their blood and their immune system with it. There is also an issue with pesticides, so much so that the British Beekeeping Association have recently cut all ties with pesticide manufactures. Both of these issues could also be connected but whether separate, or together something is fundamentally wrong and when you consider that over 30% of our food is pollinated by the humble bee you realise how important this issue is. Already the Almond is under threat as there are not enough bees to pollinate the trees so reinforcement hives have to be transported to the west of America each year just to help them out – hand pollinating thousands of acres of almond plantation is simply not an option (incidentally this is already taking place in some areas of China and the staple equipment includes ladders, long sticks with feathers and hundreds if not thousands of volunteers even for the smallest of plot). If I look back, these reasons along with my love of the garden, I know, I know, I am only 31, led me to enquire about beekeeping. So what can you do?

There are many routes that you can follow if you are based in the UK but let me tell you how I went about it as a guide. Firstly I got in contact with the British Beekeepers Association (www.bbka.org.uk) and looked to see if there was anything going on in my area. To my astonishment there was an “association” just up the road, one of nine in Surrey. I was amazed, I thought I was the only silly person to consider becoming a beekeeper. I then made contact and they sent me information about a course which I thought sounded like a fantastic idea. I signed up for the course and was told that it consisted of 10, two hour evening classes. I nearly fell off my chair as I thought you would just get a hive, wait for the bees to fly in and then in a few weeks a little glass jar would neatly appear at my doorstep. In hindsight, those 10 theory (did I mention that I didn’t actually see a bee in this time?) classes were some of the most insightful classes I have had the pleasure of attending. I was hooked and immediately began to read every book about the subject.

It wasn’t until this Spring that I actually got involved in a hive properly and, as part of the membership fee of the said association, I started to attend the practical sessions. Firstly I am glad that I did the theory first as it all started to make a little bit more sense but secondly, for the first few sessions I had to fight the urge to run a mile every time a hive was opened or when a bee would walk over my hand – having been taught to run or practice tennis swings every time a bee was near ever since I was a small child, this was a difficult urge to resist.

I can only say that beekeeping is one of the most exciting whilst pleasant and relaxing things I have done in my relatively short life and I urge anyone to take up the hobby. If not for the shear enjoyment, we do need food on the table and if Einstein is to be believed, should we ever be without the honey bee, we would only have 4 years to live.

I am currently about to pick up my own set of bees from a local beekeeper and I can’t wait to have them in my own hive. Should you want to follow my progress please join me and my diary at www.surreybeekeeper.co.uk

Beekeeping by James from The Surrey Beekeeper.

If you have a farming story, memory or farm visit that you would like to share or a farming issue that you would like to raise, then please send me your story or article and I will happily include it on a guest appearance post.

A Quick Letter From Cyprus – Settling Into New Cypriot Village Community

My penpal David lives in cyprus and I do look forward to his emails and letter. David has been very busy moving house recently so he has just sent a quick update on the move and settling into the new village community.

Hi Sara and all at Farming Friends
Just a rather quick note to say sorry that I have not sent a newsletter for some time but I am currently offline and waiting on Cyta to reconnect me in Kedares. The move has gone extremely well and I and the cats are now living happily in our new village community. I have planted various squash courgettes beans aubergines lettuces and onions as well as mint rosemary chervil and coriander. All are coming up with great vigour so it should be a good salad year.I am trying to stagger planting but the Cyprus climate does not seem to take account of this and once watered all the seeds seem to go wild with mad growth. The village is sparsely populated but many cypriots come from Lefkosia and Lemesos during holidays. Leo is my great new friend at the local coffee shop and already I have a supplier of oranges eggs bread and other fruits.Andreas Kostas and Xirios are also new friends and I cannot go into the bar without someone buying me a drink. This can be a bit embarassing as I drink beer and they tend to drink the local coffee so my return rounds are nowhere near as costly. Leo says not to worry and I suppose they would not do it if they were not happy. They all seem to be retired police and drive around in L200 Toyotas with various tractors and agricultural implements on the back. Any help or advice I need is freely given. As an ex Townie who loves the countryside this is the real joy of village life and I am glad that I made the move.
Well the weather is now getting hotter and I am building a covered pergola to give me and the plants some protection. I recently went to Famagusta and Salamis in the north part and will tell you all about it in my next letter. Anyone thinking of going there will be amazed at the ruins and buildings and the friendliness of the people most of whom speak english. My greek is not brilliant but my turkish is non existant so looks like more learning over the winter.
Best wishes to you all
David

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

Letter 1

Letter 2

Letter 3

Letter 4

Letter 5

Letter 6

Letter 7

Letter 8

Letter 9

Letter 10

Life In Cyprus – David’s Tenth Letter

I was pleased to receive my tenth email from my friend David who lives in Cyprus

Hi Sara and and all at Farming Friends

At  last the weather is improving but with the wind coming from the south and Egypt we now have rather high dust and sand in the atmosphere and the other day I saw the first locust of the year no doubt blown here on the wind. Today the sun is out and I have opened up my cold frame and put out my seed pots to help things along. The broad beans are coming up but as yet no courgettes, squash, tomatoes or herbs. I am really experimenting with the rather clayey soil of my area of the Troodos to see what will thrive best. In Kedares I will have quite a good portion of land to utilise for vegetables so I hope to get at least two bites at the cherry! Of course I need to cultivate the ground and prepare it as I believe it has lain fallow for a number of years so I am still after goat manure. My own compost heap is doing quite well in Lemithou and I will be filling up another raised bed next week ready for some seedlings.

This is a beautiful time of year in Cyprus. Much of the land is still green from the rains and many flowers are now coming into bloom.My lemon tree here in Tsada is flowering and the scent is very exotic. The mandarin tree is also flowering and in the citrus orchards the scent will be wonderful. If you go north from Tsada towards Polis there are acres of orange trees alongside the road and at this time of year the blossom is very picturesque.The first mimosa trees will be in bloom soon as well. Sorry if I am waxing lyrical but now is the time to visit Cyprus if you do not wish to lie on the beach all day. Of course that supposes you can get a flight at a reasonable price which sadly is not easy just now. The tourism is well down but just recently there have been many visitors in Kato Pafos by the harbour.I suspect many have come to escape the cold weather further north. It is still unsettled in Greece and Turkey so I do not think we are right out of the worst yet. Although the temperature is about 21 degrees today I still wear jeans and a pullover.This causes some looks from the visitors who go around in shorts and t shirts.Good luck to them but I still think the temperature needs to rise a bit before I put away the long trousers.
I ordered another book from Low Impact Living Initative on dry stone walling which has arrived very quickly. Maybe the post office is improving here. I intend to build some walls in the Troodos but I think I will need to source rock from other areas as most of the rock is igneous in Lemithou and although abundant I suspect it is difficult to work. If I am wrong I do hope that someone will give advice.
The article in “Grapevine” one of the english free papers here on buying in North Cyprus is most interesting but does not really help anyone thinking of purchasing there other than to say be very careful.Although the thought is that North Cyprus will not pay any attention to the European Court ruling at some stage the matter will raise its head if the two sides are ever reconciled. If you have found a property in the North it may be an idea to put an advert in one of the South Cyprus newspapers asking if anyone has a claim on the land. Not ideal but it may make everyone more aware of the problem and may encourage others to demand better advice from both sides.
I am off to Kedares again this afternoon with Kleanthis to take up some clothes and books ready for my move at the end of the month.
I went up with Kleanthis last tuesday 16th and I now have the keys to the house but of course I will not move in until the end of March.It does mean however that I can move bits and pieces now which is a great help. Kleanthis is keen on hunting and as we had his grandson Andreas with us he took us off road and we saw our first snake of the year. It was a black whip snake quite long about a metre and did it move fast. Then we followed the Diarizos river with Kleanthis pointing out wild garlic wild asparagus and various other greens kown here as “Xorta” (pronounced horta) and ended up in the back end of Kedares. I have noted the route down as a good walk but I fear my car will not cope with the really rough areas.
We stopped for coffee in Kedares and I met several of the villagers who all speak good english and are a wild bunch of retired gents like myself. Several are retired police officers but they have a great sense of humour and I look forward to sitting there in the summer evenings with a glass of beer and hearing their tales. I thought my greek would improve in the village but maybe not although one has promised not to talk to me in english.
On the way back down to Pafos Kleanthis again went off road in Mamonia and we ended up in an orange orchard where he procceded to pick two large bags of oranges giving one to me and saying that the best oranges in Cyprus come from Mamonia. I asked if the owner of the land minded him picking the oranges and he laughed and said the land belonged to his brother in law Bambos who is my new landlord. I think I will be ok for oranges and other fruits in the future.
I am pleased to say that most of my seeds are coming up and on the site the raised beds are now full of seedlings so I hope this year will produce some veg. Kleanthis says he will bring his JCB up to the Troodos so I may be able to repair some of the slippage and at last find the water sump.
I have a good friend here called Mary who is an established mosaic artist and also paints wonderful icons. I believe even the Bishop of Pafos has expressed interest in her work. Anyway she is kindly going to paint an icon of St George for me as he is the patron saint of the valley where the land is situated it being called Mouttis tis Drakonta or Dragon Mountain. There is a little shrine just down the road dedicated to St George so I think it is all rather fitting. I will send you a photo once it is done.
Mary is one of those people that you meet and like immediately. She is doing battle with a whip snake at the moment to see who is entitled to the sunny spot by the pool in her garden and also has a black chicken that has decided to take up residence in her studio which makes working there a battle of wits. I am currently looking at building a chicken coop to give the chicken an alternative living space. Are we all mad!!
Well once again I have rattled on about living here and the general pace of life but I really believe it is the people and friends that you make in living in a community who make a difference to  your life and I will keep trying to speak greek and learn more of their lifestyles here.
Best wishes to you all and wish me luck with the move (although most is now done).
Abbo

I enjoyed reading about the places and people David knows and look forward to hearing about whether the veg grows in the Cyprus heat and am intrigued to see the photo of the wonderful mosaic picture that Mary is creating.

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

Letter 1

Letter 2

Letter 3

Letter 4

Letter 5

Letter 6

Letter 7

Letter 8

Letter 9

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