14 years ago when we moved to La Rosilla, we were definitely wet behind the ears, and certainly wearing, rose-coloured specs 😉 buying a small ‘Finca’ on the side of a mountain, with 600 sq metres of Olive trees planted or should I say clinging to the slopes, trees that had not be maintained for years.
Over the following years we’ve learned the hard way, trial and error and trusting perhaps a little too much on not quite so generous locals (who I’m pleased to say are far and few between) who definitely took advantage of our naivety. Most years our olives have been picked by a young couple of burly boys, we share the crop, they take to the Cooperative, and then deliver us some oil, all’s good :).
A couple of years ago, our trees were bare, no crop, no oil – they needed TLC, then came along our saviour ‘Angel‘ – he has guided us in their care, helped us prune, rake and look after the land, all hard hands-on work, but very necessary to maintain the trees and ensure their production for years to come and for future generations of our family.
In the 14 years on the land, we have never used any chemicals our animals have helped greatly over the years, fertilising naturally. Last winter we gave the trees an extreme prune, and they repaid us greatly with ladened branches of beautiful olives. They only downfall this year or lack it was no rain, no rain at all. This meant our normal harvest time was brought forward a few months, as we couldn’t risk the olives dropping with lack of water. The benefit of cropping early does give a better quality of oil, even if the yield is less.
This year we had planned our own pressing, to ensure we had our own single estate oil, so the Mill was booked and we had 3 days to harvest. Up at dawn and worked till dusk, back and arm breaking work, laying nets and bashing trees with long poles. Each tree took approximately 1 hour to harvest, and we soon got into a rhythm and method that suited us. As the olives laid in their nets, we then, by hand sieved out the leaf and twig debris, before bagging in large sacks.