Following the festivities and a couple of weeks of over-indulgence and under-activity it was time yesterday to get back to the land, a day of farming at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.
The Estate of Bellaugello is 53 hectares and whilst a lot of the land is made up by woodland, we do have fields that are cultivated, some animals, and olive trees. The unseasonably mild weather gave me an excellent opportunity to jump into the Apetto and trundle tools to the olive trees and begin to prune the foliage.
Some neighbours prune their trees whilst they harvest in November, others advocate pruning in April, either time for me is difficult. There is always a rush to get the olives in, and somehow it doesn’t seem right to hack branches off a tree so soon after harvesting the fruit, I may be mad but I talk to my trees, and thank them for their harvest. April is a difficult time too, as the season is just revving up, spring maintenance has just been finished, guests are enjoying the comfort of Bellaugello, and I need to be there to look after them, so the olive pruning is oft forgotten.
Yesterday it was divinely therapeutic to be up in the olive trees, a branch off here, another there, opening up the trees. Italian farmers will tell you olive trees thrive on “poche foglie, un sacco di letame” – literally “few leaves and loads of sh.t” so the inward and upward branches have to go, more light in the centre of the tree and old and straggling light inhibiting branches pruned away. Along with pruning established trees I have been discovering and clearing long-hidden trees, such satisfying work. I am not an expert, but adore boys toys and have been happy to use the power tools and sheer brute strength to clear the undergrowth. The more trees I can bring back into cultivation and the better pruned they all are the more oil we will have, after all I want a good harvest this November.
Meanwhile my farmer who tends our animals was slaughtering our first pig. Our animals live as good a life as possible, they graze outdoors and numbers are small. Gianpiero is an expert at traditional meats and we have agreed that he will be making and curing the meat, so we will have our very own home-cured prosciutto, capocollo, salsiccia, lardo, salame, pancetta e salsicce fresche.
Our traditional products will be ready for our summer dinners served on the terrace under the stars for you guys to enjoy this summer.
La vita è bella!