Archives for Latest from Lunigiana

British weather: 5th June

An Italian friend of mine once said that the problem with British weather was not the rain or the dampness it was the unpredictability of it. You wake up and its grey drizzle and by the time you have made it out of the door it has gone through at least three different states (to include sun, hail, wind, hot, cold and perhaps snow). She claimed that in Italy, the weather you get up with is the weather you go to bed with. Well, if she is to be believed then this week has been decidedly Engish! I head out
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Ants, ants, everywhere: May 30th

Ants are taking up residence in the bee feeder on my hive. Whilst researching I found out that 400 years ago, Charles Butler listed the Enemies of bees as : the mouse the woodpecker the Titmouse the Swallow the Hornet the Wasp the Moth the snail the Emet the Spider the Toad the Frog the Bee the weather Not so resilient eh?! Well I would add to that list the usual collection of Italian pests (fiena, boar, deer…), cack-handed Englishmen and ANTS. They are all over the place! As yet, I’m still to really find out what damage they are doing
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Chicks and ransacking: May 23rd

The chicks hatched! The eggs arrived safely, very carefully wrapped and yesterday the chicks make themselves known. Just as sweet as the tacky Easter cards would have you think, plus a bit sibling negotiation which I enjoy watching unfold. The brood are now happily ensconced in the run with an older hen who seems to be taking very well to parenthood. In other chicken news, there was a small breakout last week. As you can imagine it was hens who are now proving to be less interested in parenthood that ransacked the vegetable garden! I’m just glad that the escape
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14th May: Beans and Bees

This week we finally harvested the fava beans. It is such a labour intensive job for just beans- somehow the labour in vines seems more worthwhile when you get wine out of them (eventually!). But delicious as they are I’m happy to do the slaving. Especially when at the end of the day I know I can sit on the terrace with a glass of red and a handful of fresh beans. All in a days work eh?! Last week we had ducklings arriving and now we have bees! Thousands of them! And I must say I have become a
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May 9th: Grass fight and new arrivals!

Very exciting arrivals this week, a pair of one week old ducklings! They seem to very happy in their new home- a cardboard box in the kitchen- and much calmer than I was expecting. Yesterday they spent a little time outside on the terrace with me admiring the view. They seem pretty stoked about their new surroundings. The garden is suddenly going great guns, having had a rather wet week it’s starting to perk up. The broad (fava in Italy) beans are ready to be harvested, the onions are steaming along and the potatoes are poking their heads up. Sadly
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Nettle Pesto: April 28th

The majority of us (especially the Brits among you) associate nettles with childhood tears and the search for dock leaves. Or perhaps the corner of the park where no one went except for the occasionally hardy/foolish dog. But here in Italy, in spring time, we eat it. My favorite way is to make a quick nettle pesto or pesto d’urtica.  Super simply, blanch the nettles for a minute or two in boiling salted water, drain and squeeze dry and then mix (traditionally of course with a pestle and mortar, or, if you are lazy like me, with a blender) with pine
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Better Chicken News: April 18th

Having had bad chicken news last time I have cheering news now. We have ordered some new chicks to arrive in May! We’ll need to be extra vigilant that they don’t get poached by some manner of beasty while they are still tiny. Hopefully the other hens will be happy to play guardian to their younger friends. Chicks don’t have an easy time in Northern Italy. In the UK we mostly had foxes, dogs and the very occasional bird of prey to worry about, but here there is a vast array of potential predators; foxes, birds and the dread “faina”
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Bad week for chickens: April 9th

I’m feeling a tinge of guilt this week. Whilst berating the chickens for attempting to massacre the strawberries last week, a worse massacre has befallen them. One of our hens was cruelly killed and Agatha (the only named chicken of the brood) seems to have had a heart attack and died perhaps in solidarity. It was a faina that did the damage in full day light!! Faina is the Italian word for a beech marten but having only come across these beasts in Italy I didn’t know the English word until i looked it up this morning in my worn
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March 24th: Lunar gardening

The fence is almost done! I’ve just got to finish some final joins and strengthening (in case of particularly persevering animals!) and then it’s complete! Chicken-proof! Deer-proof! Cinghiale-proof! Too optimistic?! Never. In my haste to get the fences up I may have missed the PERFECT week to plant the potatoes. Well, assuming I am still attempting to plant by the moon… Never heard of it? Nor had I. Planting by the moon has been a long standing way of farming for many hundreds of years. The Italians being the Italians, following their favourite motto of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix
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March 21st: The Cinghiale returns

Since Spring seems to be springing I have been spending a lot more time outside sorting out the land for the summer growing season. We have an olive grove, a vineyard and a vegetable patch that continues to grow in size; we have our work cut out! The olives are in the final phase of being pruned and prior to the next downpour they will be fed. The main priorities at the moment seem to be linked to fending off animals. I’m trying to get the fence up around the vines as quickly as possible, before the dreaded deer and
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