Monday, February 7, 2011
Making wood while the sun shines
To harvest olives for oil from the variety of olive tree that is cultivated hereabouts requires that olive bearing branches are cut from the trees. On the ground, olives are beaten from the cut branches to be gathered into sacks for onward transmission to an oil extraction plant. Traditionally the branches were beaten by hand-wielded sticks, presently the work is done by plastic fingers on the revolving spindles of portable petrol engined machines. When the harvest is over large piles of pruned boughs and twigs litter the groves. To facilitate the work of the tractors that will come later to cultivate the groves this surplus material has to be removed. For many years now, in two of the olive groves behind the house, we have exchanged our labour for the useable firewood we can bring home to feed our wood-stove through subsequent winters. On a fine day, and I would only consider doing this work on a fine day, it is wonderful work. First stripping twigs from useable wood with a billhook, burning unusable twigs on huge bonfires and finally bringing back the booty. The work is heavy, involving lot of bending and humping which gives me the kind of exercise of which these days I get too little but the elemental environment is nothing less than paradisic.