The 2018 olive harvest was daunting but ultimately rewarding. Jann and I took possession of the farm on 9 May 2018 and embarked on the steepest learning curve of our lives.
We plunged into the task and managed to hand harvest, hand wash and sort, and hand brine some 720 kgs of mixed olives. They are now around 5 months into a 12-month fermentation. We have recently drained and re-brined all barrels and are delighted at the lovely fruity nose and a definite reduction in the astringent bitterness of raw olives. We continue to watch the magic taking place.
After harvest the olive groves were liberally fertilised with lime, carbon fines, crushed basalt rock and chicken manure. In addition, as an experiment, 30% of the grove received an additional half bobcat bucket of chicken manure to see what effect it might have.
The new season update, as of our inspection in late November, found all trees looking well with obvious evidence of spring growth and a lovely flush of mid-Spring blossom. The fruitlets are abundant and growing well. The olive grove was alive with the sound of wild bees collecting pollen.
Our two young Jersey heifers gave birth to their first calves in the grove and found the shelter and hiding places very much to their liking. It has become one of our favourite pastimes to watch our tiny family of Jersey cows and calves moving through the olives. Thankfully they have shown no interest in eating the trees.
Over the next few months we will battle the invasion of birds, insects and weather and with luck and good management will start to approach the anticipated olive production of around 20kgs per tree. We have made provision for a more knowledgeable olive grower to assist in identifying varieties. This will allow us to show the subtle flavour nuances of each variety, both natural and flavours contrived during fermentation.
Derek and Jann