I’ve been busy since my arrival here tending the gardens. It all came to a halt with torrential rains that seemed to go on for days and days where it became much colder with overcast skies. It sure was cold and being from the UK, it might be though I’d be used to it. Not so without central heating throughout a property.
I had to unexpectedly leave this beautiful part of the world for a short time where upon my return, the weather had taken a turn for much greater warmth both day and night with clear blue skies above. Before I left, I was tending to the grapevines and that took plenty of time as I hardly knew where to cut and where not to. Everything is all so overgrown. It is the same situation with the olive trees and extremely spiteful rose bushes that have me in tatters.
I’m fortunate because even with the rains, I had a neighbour more than willing to stand in the cold and wet and aid me to some extent. He trimmed a few grapevines and roses and from what he did, I received some understanding as to where I should snip. He does not speak English, so it’s hit and miss with my interpretation of what needs doing.
I am lead to believe my property was empty for about six years with few visits by the previous owners that lived in Setúbal. Hence, perhaps it may be obvious that little maintenance was performed on growth in the garden. There are a great many trees of all sorts and some to my horror are in a poor state of health, with in some cases, much dead wood requiring removing. The olive trees, of which there are thirty-seven are fine and though looking good, need extensive trimming to yield good quality olives. They are far too tall with extremely dense growth and it takes, a long ladder to undertake the task of manually trimming hefty branches and newer growth.
This year, I think the olive trees will fail to provide a quality crop as there is simply too much work involved for me to complete within the time frame. Life can be good in Portugal but without doubt, for those working the land, it sure is hard and very time consuming. My neighbours opposite are very elderly but far fitter than me, I’m ashamed to say, and especially so, as their ages are somewhat greater than mine.
The husband of the two is ninety and handles a chainsaw with the greatest of ease but you can hear his laboured breathing with the strain. He works hard for an hour and rests for two. His wife, as seen above in a discreetly taken photograph, is perhaps five years younger and is as strong as an Ox. Not seen is her lugging firewood about. For me, my attempts are feeble in comparison and I can only say, with blisters on hands that perhaps, such hard work will be beneficial for my health.
In countries such as the UK, one goes to the supermarket and often complains about the cost of food produce. If only they, the consumers were to see just how much work is involved in the maintenance of olive trees and the like, for I suspect, little financial reward in return. The true profits are made by the processors and not the growers and that applies to all foodstuffs.
With the above said, I would not change anything now in my life. My back aches and my hands are painful. But, as I sit here and write this post before a shower, I can hear the birds in their hundreds and tonight, it will be the crickets now the weather is warmer.