15 Sep 2017

Our time in Italy (1) land maintenance



My internet connection seems to be working properly again so I'm going to write up some blog posts about our time in Italy which in some ways followed the usual routine because work on maintaining the land around the house never ceases. However, this time we were there during the hottest months of July and August and our two daughters and two of the grandchildren  were with us for twelve days.  We had willing helpers and there were plenty of opportunities for play as well as work.   


I must admit when I saw the state of the land around the house and remembered how neat and tidy it had been at the end of our last stay in March/April because of my husband's hard work I did feel despondent.  Nature continues and never stops so we knew beforehand that we would have to start all over again with the clean-up.
Thankfully the long grass was cut within an hour or two although it's quite a difficult site for the man with the tractor to negotiate where there are fruit trees and sloping ground in the back garden. Nevertheless, the job was soon done leaving Mr P to tidy around the areas where the tractor could not go such as under the pergola that supports the grape vines (using a small scythe). The next job was to cut off many of the vine branches that had grown to a great length so that the air and sunshine could get to the developing fruit. When our grandson arrived he was quite happy to help out by taking wheelbarrows of grass, vine branches and other vegetation to the compost heap.   





The grapes were looking good and we were told that ours have done well this year. It's the second year that our relatives' produce has done badly due to hailstorms when the fruit was just beginning to develop and then lack of rain and drought conditions afterwards continuing into August.  Apart from the grapes and some apples and pears we found that there was no other fruit to pick this year. We were disappointed that there were no figs especially as the fig tree in our UK garden has been loaded with fruit this year. It's difficult to know the reason unless it's happy in our soil and gets the benefit of rain as well as some sunshine.

early table grapes

wine grapes - they'll be gathered later by relatives
who will put them with theirs to produce the wine.


 a different variety of table grape


This year I was able to gather some hazel nuts.
When we're there in September/October most of them
have been eaten by small animals.



As you can see the grass was very dry and vulnerable to being set alight.


This is what was happening in the surrounding area as the wildfires raged and got near to villages and isolated houses.  (The above photo and the one of the olive trees were taken by a relative and also we saw the fires for ourselves). 


When fire broke out on scrub land next to the superstrada causing dangerous conditions because of the smoke the road was closed and traffic diverted onto another route. A few days later we passed by and saw the damage.



Even though firefighters were out-and-about and helicopters were trying to put out fires from the air there have been consequences especially for those who grow olive trees as the groves are usually on the stony, scrubby land that's suitable for cultivating these trees rather than other types of produce.   We've experienced such fires on a sister-in-law's land when we lived permanently in Italy and it's quite scary when it happens in the fields near dwellings and livestock.  I remember the whole village was alerted and those folk who were around because it was 'siesta time' in the afternoon came straight away to help put out the fire before it spread.


We're frequently in touch with my husband's family by phone and thankfully the fires have died down and it's also a lot cooler, about 25 degrees in comparison to when we were there. The temperatures then reached 45 degrees despite being high up on the slopes of the mountains rather than down in the valley. 

Wishing you a good day and hopefully I'll be back soon,
Linda :)

24 comments:

  1. That's too hot for me. It must be so worrying when you're back here to hear about the fires, it's a good job you've got family to help you - and a man with a tractor to cut the grass! The grapes look marvellous.

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    1. Yes it was too hot for all of us even the locals! It was hotter than normal. We're grateful we have help although Mr P's relatives have been preoccupied with ill health and have their own work in the house and on the land to do. None of us are getting any younger so it's a challenge. Re. the fires all relatives over there are safe and their land has been preserved.

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  2. That must be frightening for everyone in the area. We are certainly living in such difficult times. On a lighter note, what amazing produce you have the table grapes look wonderful.

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    1. Yes, some areas have drought conditions with all the problems associated with no rain and others are vulnerable to flooding and terrible storms. We certainly enjoyed the fruit that we gathered during our time away with the family.

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  3. Linda, I had no idea it got so hot in Italy! That's much hotter than it gets even here in the torrid summers of the Midwest, where it rarely gets higher than 40°C. It looks like you have done a good job tidying everything up -- it must feel very satisfying to be able to do so. And your fruit is marvelous! The very picture of Italian horticulture. Enjoy your stay in such a wonderful place, and thanks for sharing it with us. -Beth

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    1. It did get unbearably hot as we got to mid August. One positive aspect was that we ate lots of salad and fruit and I lost some weight which I'm trying to maintain now we're back home in the UK.

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  4. The fires must be terrifying once they take hold and get close to houses and outhouses. The grapes look wonderful both for table and wine, no doubt you will be able to taste some of the wine once it is made. It was very hot during your visit so cutting the grass and tidying the garden must have been extra hard to do:)

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    1. Shortage of piped water also makes life difficult if there's a fire on private land. We don't have piped water. Most folk have paid for a well to be constructed to access water deep down in the ground although this has to be pumped up and stored. Mr P paced himself over the weeks we were there. He could only do the main jobs of tidying up in the garden. Yes, we shall enjoy the wine made this Autumn when we go back next year, all being well.

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  5. The fires are so scary, when we lived in Southern California, which is also very dry, we had the same problem with fires. Your grapes look to tasty.

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    1. Fire out of control is frightening. Also it must be a headache for the rural fire service when many fires break out all at once. The table grapes were most welcome although the grandchildren's favourite fruit when in Italy is watermelon.

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  6. Having two properties to maintain keeps you very fit indeed. It is very scary with the wild fires so close but at least your mind is at rest knowing that your Husband has family close by.
    The grapes look delicious and I'm sure taste much nicer than shop bought ones.
    Have a fantastic weekend Linda :)

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    1. We don't mind the hard work in the gardens when everything looks tidy and there are lots of flowers and produce to enjoy. I think Prunella would like the purple grapes that smell and taste like strawberries. Thank you for your good wishes. Wishing you all a lovely weekend.

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  7. The fires can be so very dangerous. We have had forest fires not far from Portland and some day the smoke is so bad we have to stay inside. It is very sad. Oh those grapes look soooooooo very delicious. How I love grapes. The critters usually eat most of our grapes. We have a nice crop of figs, but they are so to ripen. Not sure what I will do with them. Watching them closely so the raccoons don't eat them. They ate half our small plum crop this year. It is indeed a mystery why some years we get so much of some produce and some years we don't. We are having an over abundance of tomatoes too. Happy weekend.

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    1. Thank you for your visit Marilyn. My internet service is playing up again so I'll write my reply and hope it'll publish. The forest fires must be devastating as they burn up beautiful areas full of wildlife and they are so dangerous to humans too. I hope they die down and are under control soon. I was interested to hear about the raccoons eating your fruit. That's something we don't have either in the UK or Italy. I hope you've been enjoying what's left of your produce. Wishing you a good weekend.

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  8. So sad to see that wildfires are in that area, too. We are suffering from smoky skies again today. Glad your internet is up again. Glad the fires have quieted in your area. We are hoping the rain and snow in the forecast will break down the fires here in the Pacific Northwest and Montana.

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    1. I hope that the fires die down in your area very soon. My internet connection is still on and off because of a local connection problem which the engineers are working on so I'm quickly sending a reply before it goes again. Wishing you a good week.

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  9. So glad to hear you weren't effected by the fires. Your grapes look amazing!

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    1. Thank you for your visit and for leaving a comment. I'll be back as soon as my internet server has resolved the connection problem and hope to catch up with your blog and book reviews very soon. Have a good week.

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  10. Wildfires are utterly terrifying, so glad they were managed. Goodness, what heat! The weather is scary worldwide at the moment, hopefully it will all calm down. Oh....those grapes.xxx

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    1. It does feel as though the weather is becoming more extreme. Extreme heat is very draining. I was glad to get back to cooler temperatures.

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  11. Thank goodness for those helicopters in times of fire - we are so grateful for them over here too. Such brave Pilots.
    Your property is lovely and how nice to have the closeness with family there. Very exciting to have your grapes made into wine.
    That was lovely of your Grandson to help out with the gardening chores. Yes, it doesn't take long for everything to become overgrown... a good mow certainly starts the ball rolling.
    Cheers and it was delightful to have a look around. Glad the fires have gone :D)

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    1. We are so grateful for all the emergency services in times of distress and the firefighters on the ground and flying helicopters have a lot to contend with; heat, smoke and difficult terrain. Thank you for your visit Sue. Wishing you well.

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  12. Hi there, I have just enjoyed a lovely catch up here, you have had a busy and enjoyable few months.I never seem to get enough time to keep up with all my online friends so it was great to hear from you on Travel Tales today and prompt me! Loved visiting Brugge and the holiday on the Belgium canals.

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    1. It's good to hear from you Lindy. I'm not able to keep up with everyone either due to our lifestyle, but it's good to know you are well and I enjoy seeing your Travel Tales blog posts when I get on the internet. All the best Lindy.

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