Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Easter weekend olive picking

This Easter we did something different, something we have never done before... 
We packed the car and headed south for 8 hours to drive through some wonderful countryside.
The reason for the drive was to pick olives....
Hundreds, no, thousands,....better make that hundreds of thousands of olives!

(My Mediterranean friends guessed right from the clue in my last post).

enthusiastic kids on the first morning of picking

We were lucky enough to be invited to share Easter with some friends
and their extended family on the olive farm.
My crash course in olive picking went something like this:-
"Pick the black ones, not the shrivelled up sultana looking black ones. Leave the green ones."

Olive trees have no thorns and no nasty bugs  - bar the odd wasp nest. The olives come off easily and it was a surprisingly relaxing activity. Sometimes we picked in groups and had giggly conversations through the leaves, other times we picked in pairs and sometimes it was nice and relaxing just to pick a tree and get lost in the monotony of the task and let your mind wander.

On the first morning all the children were so excited that they rushed out not long after it was light and started filling the white buckets with olives. This excitement however, was relatively short lived and most of the day we heard them playing somewhere in the middle of the olive groves, lost in their own little make believe worlds. They were always around for the food stops though!

the kids are here - it must be time to eat!

This was proper country living... We were outdoors almost from sun up to sun down. We would work away and then the call would be heard that morning tea was served. The ute would appear with hot drinks and a selection of goodies. Everyone would gather around, fill up, then back to work until the next call for lunch. This was taken under the big shady tree and would be a hearty soup, or a sausage sizzle and there was always a bottle of two of wine to share.

lunch being prepared by the very capable elders.

 The afternoon shift was usually the quiet one where I enjoyed the peace and tranquility of just being far away from home. I could listen to the conversation around me, eavesdrop on the children's princess game that was being played just around the corner, or try and shut everything out and concentrate on the gentle rustle, rustle plop sound of olive picking.

Once it got too dark to see the difference between green and black we would call it a day. It's almost addictive stuff and each evening we would keep going until it really was impossible to see. With children bathed and in their pj's the adults would then sit and ponder the day over a meal. It was a real privilege to be part of the big family gathering.  I loved listening to the reminiscing of the older generations and hearing about the history of the area.

sunset over the olive grove

On Friday and Saturday around 500kg of olives had been picked and then on Sunday these were crushed to make roughly 70litres of  oil. This will need to stand for a while until it clears and then it will be ready to consume.

from the tree to the oil...
Sunday was a slight change of routine as there were other jobs for some of the men to do. Some of us went to the local church for the Easter Service and then even more family came back to pick. Even 94 year old great Nana pulled up a chair and picked! At one point there were four generations of one family helping out. Well, four and a half if you counted the pregnant belly of one!!

Since I've been in Australia I've picked up the odd new word or phrase and this weekend the new word was  - 'jaffle' We were having 'jaffles' on Sunday and they were to be cooked in the fire! For the non Australians jaffals are a toasted sandwich that you cook in an enclosed cast iron press and boy do they taste good! Champagne and jaffles around the fire - what a combination! and what a great evening to end a memorable weekend.

Sunday evening jaffles. (note the ugg boots to keep warm)

Grateful for good friends and the opportunity to explore the Australian countryside.

linking up with Sarah for
Good Life Wednesday
Good Life Wednesdays

8 Comments and thoughts:

  1. great post - still find it quite difficult to get my head around the time zone and seasonal difference, our olives won't be ready to pick until November!! It's great fun though isn't it? although we only have three trees, we still enjoy the community feel of getting the neighbours around to help to harvest and using your own olive oil to cook...can't be beaten!!

  2. That sounds like an absolutely wonderful way to spend Easter weekend, Beth! I haven't had a chance to post about it yet, but my parents own an olive grove which is where I'm staying in Australia. I'm an 'old hand' at olive picking and I have always found it so calm and relaxing - so I can definitely relate to your experience (although too early to pick in South Aust yet).
    I hope you're enjoying your week - Melissa xx

  3. Sounds like it was a great weekend Beth. I hope you managed to take some olive oil home with you. Glad to hear you also enjoyed a good old Australian jaffle around the campfire! ;-)

  4. Sounds like a great weekend. What an experience getting to work on such a tangible task. I would have swapped places with you in a heartbeat!

  5. How intriguing, Beth. I can't believe how many kilos were picked - that's a lot of olives! And you made me smile, remembering my parents' old jaffle maker - I'll have to hunt it out now! J x

  6. Ah, good ole jaffles. Haven't had one since I was a kid...they were superceded by the sandwich maker. Glad you had so much fun. Robx

  7. Now THAT makes me want to plant olives... sounds magical! gxo

  8. Great pics and it sounds like you all had a wonderful time. Thanks so much for linking up at the Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays and joining the party!