-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Rescuing the olives

What with all the attention focused on the orchard, the poor olive trees planted up on the hill got neglected. The enclosures were broken into by next door's sheep and escaped deer, and many trees were eaten or at least severely squashed. :-(

olive grove damagee

Dad very kindly made an emergency trip to make repairs so hopefully they'll bounce back. Ultimately though I think we're going to have to invest in a big fence for them too like the orchard. *sigh* Here's an example of a repaired enclosure:

example of repaired olive fence

And here's what we can expect to have lots of, one day. :-) Despite everything, we have fruit on a couple... so it's not all bad.

olive with fruit

Just for the sake of future records (not that I suspect anyone but me will ever be interested) here's the saga in full as described by Dad:

On Feb 14th Dad emailed:

Watered orchard. Found great damage to olive grove. 12 trees nearly destroyed by roos or sheep. Broken down barriers. Must go next week to repair and replace all tree barriers".

On Feb 21st Dad he did as promised and wrote back with an update:

"I got home at 0200 this morning after spending the past two days to save the olive grove. I understand from talking to your new neighbor down the hill that there have been deer on the block only last week...
I set about to replace the damaged plastic pickets with new ones, using 4 each tree not just 3 pickets as it is apparent that the trees get much more protection from would-be grazers with 4. I acquired all the now unneeded pickets from the orchard, having considerable trouble to extract them until I figured a way to use a chain and pin in a hole to grip them to pull with the picket-extractor... (Overall I regret buying the plastic ones, but at the time it seemed the best thing.... They are still the best for safety around stock, especially horses... but on your block will always need to drive a pilot hole first with a steel picket, extract it and then drive the plastic: time-consuming and frustrating but the only effective way to get the penetration in your soil type)
I was able to gather only half enough plastic pickets to do all repairs from the orchard, and began my work of repair. After finding it took nearly an hour each tree... I took the decision to use the 50 new steel pickets bought for Tex to fix the fence. I gathered all steel pickets we had on the block about 10, and ultimately extracted 18 of my steel stakes from around the hobbithole site. In the end I had just enough to do all repairs on all the trees as needed. There were only 4 tree enclosures which did not need to be replaced urgently since these were in satisfactory condition if I only beefed up the fixing. So I finished at dark yesterday, 830pm feeling as knackered as Dave felt the day he made the first enclosures.

I posted the pics of the tree damage (typical), the plastic post replacement, the all steel post replacement, the wiring clipped to strengthen top, and some pics of the little olives which demonstrates that your grove is ready to produce if only the animals can be kept away. I think the chief damage is from hares (from below) so I redid all wire wraps with apx 6 inch of fold along the ground. I also strengthened the overall by clipping nearly all the holes in the pickets to the wire instead of only top and bottom holes. The use of 4 pickets allows further distance from the wire for the centre of the tree. On all the trees cropped to the ground there are new leaf buds forming. I judge none of these trees will die. One of the trees damaged in the first year subsequently die even though the wire was fixed. So you have only 1 fatality to date, but if I had not acted promptly this time I fear most of the grove would have been destroyed. We are quite lucky I took a stroll up the hill when watering last weekend so noticed the damage soon after the attack and had time to go within a very short time".

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