Having lunch with sheppard Andrea

Yesterday I went on a trip up on the Psiloritis mountain to have lunch with sheppard Andreas. He lives in the village Livadia in the Idi mountains and he has been a sheppard for his whole life. He loves being out there in the nature high up in the mountains

with his sheep and goats. Together with his brothers they have around 3000 animals to take care of. Today 200 of them are already up on the mountain where Andreas milks all 200 of them twice a day and they give him each time around 100 liter of good quality milk. The other animals are still on the land they have further down the mountain and they will be brought up until the end of April.

Andreas will be milking the animals twice a day until the end of May and then for about one more month he will milk them once a day. From the month of July on the animals will mate, so they won’t give any milk until they give birth about 5 months later.

During the months that the animals don’t give milk Andreas still goes up to give them extra food and water but also because he loves being up there.

His family also built a chapel there, a saint George chapel.

Close to the chapel there stands a very large Stone Oak tree where you can enjoy the real sheppard’s lunch called antichristo. Which is lamb that is cooked next to the fire instead of on the fire. No herbs are needed during the preparation of the meat as his animals eat lots of herbs during their time in the mountains. Andreas is a very good cook and also very good company, he likes to talk about his life and work up there on the Psiloritis.

The road up to his mitato is not an easy road as it lays on a hight of 1200 meter but it really is worth the trip.

If this looks like something you would like to do during your stay in Crete than don’t hesitate to contact me.

Olive harvest

It’s December, time to harvest the olives!  It is since the 1960’s that Crete has lots and lots of olive trees, some say 30 milion, others say 35 milion, well it will be somewhere inbetween these 2 numbers.  Olive trees don’t always carry a lot of olives, like all fruit trees, the one year the harvest of a tree is huge, the next year it’s medium and the next year usually even less and then it starts all over again.  

Families in Crete can have over 5000 olive trees and imagine having to harvest them all, that is an amazing job so these families hire groups of people who have the full equipment to harvest olives, as you can see in the small video below

This equipment exist of nets that are put under the tree; jute bags to put the olives in so they can be trasported; a coarse sieve that separates the olives from the twigs and leaves; a generator that gives power to the oliviera, which is a tool that has large tongs that spin around quickly, hit the tree branches and like this remove the olives from the tree, and ofcourse the oliviera itself.

This is a quit hard job but as long as the weather is fine people enjoy it, they work together outside in nature, take a break to have a coffee or lunch under the trees and then start harvesting again.  Everyone has his own task, some people put the nets under the trees, others work with the oliviera, others gather the olives, others seperate them from the twigs and leaves and others put them in the jute bags.  It’s when it starts raining or snowing that the work starts to be really hard and difficult! 

It can take weeks or months to gather all the olives.  The olive harvest usualy ends at the end of February and then it is time to prune the trees.  Also a job that takes some time to be done, so olive farmers are busy all winter long. 

And ofcourse as soon as the first olives are harvested they are brought to the olive press where that very healthy and tasty olive oil is made.  After the olives are pressed the oil has to rest for about one month to be ready to consume so every year in January the new olive oil is ready to be tasted and sold.