I find it hard to believe. Forty years have passed since I first set foot on Boggioli soil, my first tentative steps towards the azienda agricola of today and prize-winning extra virgin olive oil.

The entry for my diary of 25 August 1975 reads: ‘Morning damp, threatening rain. Boggioli deserted and moist, overgrown. Looked in upstairs only – good condition considering. Great barn. Water (pump down the hill) and electricity. Many, many olives. Vines also. Fruit trees.’ I asked for a week to think about it – and did I ever think about it!

The following Saturday I told the sellers that I would buy the farm, albeit with less land (which I eventually bought some years later), and the next day, 31 August, I signed the compromesso, the document that committed both seller and buyer. At a celebratory dinner that evening one of my friends said that he didn’t believe that I would ever go through with it. At times I had wondered that myself.

The sale actually went through the following November. The journey had begun.

When will it stop?

February 20th, 2014

I am talking about the rain. We have just had 7 days without a drop, the longest period since early December, and now the rain has started all over again and looks like continuing.

Luckily we took advantage of a few dry days at the beginning of the week to spread the fertilizer on the fields. Now it would be impossible to get a tractor anywhere off the track; it would sink up to its axles. At least the rain is allowing the fertilizer to sink straight into the soil, and the faint smell of chicken excrement (the base of the organic fertilizer that we use) has gone.

But what is happening? Look at the extreme weather in the eastern US and western Europe – can anyone really remain in doubt as to whether the climate is changing? We have had no snow this winter, not even a flake; in fact, apart from a few cold days in early December we have hardly had a winter at all so far. March, though, is quite capable of springing a nasty surprise, but the fact remains that this year spring seems to be a month early, whereas last year it was more than a month late.

I keep a daily record of rainfall (very boring, says Helen), and in 2013 we had 1.47 m (yes, metres) of rain, the most since I started recording in 2004. And so far this year we have had 20 cm of rain. It all flows into the river Arno and goes out to sea beyond Pisa, so it is no wonder that the coastal areas have had to face all the flooding. Up here in the hills it is erosion and landslides that are the main consequences, plus the many trees that fall because the soil holding their roots has been washed away.

Noah, you’re on standby!