This time of year represents a period of weight loss and super fitness. With a hillside of 1:1 much of the distance and two-hundred metres from top to bottom (and back up again) means we work hard just to get up and down the hill many times a day. At the beginning it's all I can do to walk up the hill with stopovers for a breather. By the end of week one I'm doing the uphill in one go. At the end of the winter I can generally run the distance.
However, fitness is only a byproduct of what we do. We've reduced the trees we work with to fifty-two working olive trees on ten terraces and they've been largely untended in the last decade. Many have grown wild and producing a lot of leaf and branches with no fruit. So this winter we decided to trim them all down to their major growth. We've done forty trees so far in two weeks and have another twelve to go. The trimmings have to be split between burning in the groves, or selected for next years firewood.
Then there's the weeds which grow to six feet. We call the hard stuff 'sticky flea bane', but we're not sure if that's its proper name, but it's a real nightmare to get rid of. All this has to be cleared for the nets to go down.
Two years ago we had a couple of horses grazing the land which made the majority of the ground flat and hard. not much grew then and we got off lightly in terms of land maintenance. This year we paid the price of our laziness and much of the grove was impassable. What with six foot grass and myriad snakes skulking throughout, we kept out of the grove until the weather cooled and the snakes buggered off. Still, there's plenty of places for the to hide in the tree roots and old stumps so we're especially careful while pruning the trees. We only have one venomous snake here, the horned viper, but it can kill you if you're not treated. We're an hour and a half from the hospital where they keep the vaccines. So we do tend to take safety very seriously - especially as I'm very accident-prone here.
It is really hard when you have to clear the area that it is been long time not being taken care of. It surely lots of sweat!