Friday, 22 March 2013

harvest plans

I haven't written for a while.  I am a bit shell shocked by the news that I have a big flair up of my old cancer problems - 'numb chin syndrome', a growth over my collarbone, and spots on the liver.  I have started some more chemo, with only a 20% chance of response, and am booked in for some radiation treatment.  I don't feel too bad at present, but I am having to think about what I can realistically expect to be capable of over the next few months, and what will happen to the grove without me around to run things? But today, at least, things looked promising.  Mick Ryan, from Preston Valley Grove, came out to look at our trees and work out what he would like to buy from us.  He has a big order from a WA company, and doesn't have enough fruit to fill it.  So he wants to buy 10 to 15 tonnes from us.  He will harvest, and pay us $250 Tonne, plus provide his manager for free to do any skirting necessary to prepare the trees for mechanical harvest.  Plus he will give us some free harvesting as well. He looked around the grove and decided that the Picual, the
Corregiola and the Leccino were what he was interested in.  I wished he'd been interested in the Coratina, which is dripping with fruit.  I don't much like the oil it produces, as it is so bitter, but it is ok in blends. Anyway, the Leccino will need skirting.  Tania is prepared to start that next Monday.  I'll come down on Tuesday and help with chipping the prunings.  Mick's manager, Dave, will come some time after Easter to do some skirting as well. The harvesting will probably be done in two batches, as the fruit will ripen at different times.  I thought the first week in May would be the time to start.  All very exciting!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Here comes autumn...

Well, it is March now. Technically it is autumn.  But it is still beastly hot.  In Australia the weather bureau announces that we have had the hottest summer ever.  I would agree. We have just had a few days holiday on Rottnest island, off the coast of Perth.  Usually Rottnest is considerably cooler than Perth, but it  wasn't this time.  No sea breezes, just hot easterlies.  None the less, we enjoyed our break - swimming, fishing, talking, eating, drinking ...watching the sun go down. Back to routine now.  I have a market tomorrow, and will go down to the grove on Monday.  I hope Tania has been able to go over and water my garden, though I am sure the peaches and rockmelons will all have fallen off or got overripe. I trust the guinea fowl are doing well, and worry that the bees are getting overcrowded - can I persuade my husband to come down and do a 'robbing'? (The last time he was badly stung.  He may be unenthusiastic)
Our new tractor should be ready to collect soon.  I have plans for work for it! I don't think I mentioned to you that I had a call from the people who did our contract harvesting last July.  They have asked if they can buy  some of our fruit.  I would be delighted!  They will take up to 15 tonnes.  That means we wont have to worry about dealing with the massive crop we have this year.  The deal is they will come and pick, and pay us $250 a tonne, plus give us a free day harvesting.  Anyway, they will come and look at the trees some time this month.  It will be our job to have them ready to harvest, which means pruned ready for machine harvesting. And stake free. We have done some of the trees, but a lot look very untidy.  And we have a big problem with stakes still next to the trees.  They should have been pulled out a long time ago.  So once the buyer decides which trees he wants to harvest, we must get them ready.  Usually we can pull out the old stakes next to the trees using the tractor, but I am afraid that many of them have become embedded in the trunks.  So I need to find an alternative way of getting them out.  I believe you can get a battery operated angle grinder which will do the job.  Haven't found one yet, but will start looking seriously.  I wish I felt more energetic.  The long hot summer, and problems with my health have reduced my ability to get things done.  Isn't it frustrating!