Now we know what that really means, alas!
We are under complete lockdown like the rest of Italy and watch with horror what is going on in other parts of the country and progressively in other parts of the world. Yes, pandemic is right.
Living on a ridge 3 km from the nearest village we are isolated by geography and feel relatively safe. We are lucky not to be confined to a small apartment in the middle of a city and to be able to take the dogs for a walk in the woods whenever we like. On the rare occasions when we have to shop for food or go to the pharmacy we find deserted streets and no traffic noise or pollution, very small comforts in distressing times.
In our part of Tuscany there have not been many cases of the virus so far, and people here seem to be taking the precautions very seriously. It is reassuring to see that most countries in Europe are now adopting similar measures: better late than never.
Meanwhile, agriculture goes ahead as usual. We are continuing to ship our oil as there are no restrictions on the movement of merchandise. Our pruners are hard at work on the olive trees, a time-consuming but vital task. The trees have all been given organic fertilizer, and next week we shall be planting a small number of young trees to replace those that are no longer healthy or productive. Each of these will have to protected by wire netting as there is nothing the deer like more than fresh olive leaves – except for rose buds!
In short, like most of us nowadays we are ‘keeping calm and carrying on’.
Now that our new web site has been tested and is now up and running, it is time to get started on the new Boggioli blog.
The 2019 harvest is long gone and we are busy sending the new oil to our friends and customers all over the world. On the farm we have just finished spreading organic fertilizer (2 kg per tree) and will start pruning in March. Exactly when this will happen is hard to say as so far we have had a very mild winter, so it is highly probable that we will have a cold snap at the beginning of the month. When this happened 2 years ago, a light coating of snow froze on the branches of some of the olive trees and essentially killed the affected limbs. There was a lot of dead wood to be cut out, and only now are the damaged trees starting to look almost normal.
We shall use this space to keep you informed about what is happening at Boggioli and in the world of olive oil. Every so often we hope to have a contribution written by a guest which will provide an extra voice coming from someone outside Boggioli. Of course, your input and comments will always be most welcome.
That’s it for the moment. This first blog is just intended to open the door and to invite you to sign up for future issues.
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.
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!