Life at the Olive Farm in Greece

Somehow, our two weeks at the olive farm is already over! Next up we have a brief visit to Athens and then I head back to Atlanta for a few weeks before reuniting with John in Spain in March (he's bumming around Turkey in the time being).

But not so fast, we just had an amazing experience that you just might want to hear about.
Lexi guards us from the insanely dangerous sheep and turkeys as we begin to work
Charles and Ellie were living in a camper van on a beach when somebody told them about a piece of land for sale on a nearby olive and orange tree-studded hill. Oddly enough, they knew this piece of land; they had even hoped to one day call it their own. So with fate directing them, they ended their ten-odd years of vagabonding around Europe in a van and decided to stay for good in Zacharo, Greece.

From the ruins of an old stone house they constructed a new, stylish home that they rent out in the summers for extra income (check it out here). It sits directly in the middle of their orchard of ancient olive trees and overlooks the town and farmland that lead up to the Mediterranean sea about 3 miles away.
No, a rainbow arching over the ocean isn't picturesque at all.
This was a nice little break from the day's labor.
Picture it: the foothills of Olympia, a small herd of sheep and one rambunctious cow keeping the grass clean as they mingle amongst the 400-odd trees, and a wonderful family with the time and passion to groom their crop year-round and with completely organic methods.
John and Ellie take the sheep for a stroll
Two of the sheep gave birth while we were there
Daisy waiting to be let out so that she can lick us while we work
It only takes about a day for the babies to fully get their legs working and then make attempts at flight
This baby was born just hours before, so it was still figuring out how its legs work
So if they rent out their home in the summer, where do they live in the meantime? Well, since they contracted themselves out as laborers to build their original home, they learned a thing or two about building. Using this knowledge combined with reading lots of books, they managed to build a small cabin about 100 feet away from their main house. It's complete with two bedrooms and a kitchen, and just barely big enough for them and their angelic four-year-old daughter Lexi. Luckily, they spend a lot of time outdoors, so things work out, and when you're a farmer for a living, you have to make things work out.

You know what else makes it work out? Building the cabin only cost them about $6,000.

Self-reliance is pretty cool, folks.
Here's Charles being self-reliant and looking like a model British farmer
They don't share the house with all three of these guys, only the largest one.
Suffice it to say that we're learning from Charles and Ellie. As we travel on, we definitely plan to find volunteer opportunities in which we learn about building and carpentry. A wood cabin for $6,000!? I am sooo down.

Speaking of working with wood, that's mostly what we've been doing as volunteers here. Since they recently finished the olive harvest, there are lots of branches that were pruned from the trees that have to be either burned or shorn of smaller attached branches for firewood. Since we're working off of about 400 trees, it's probably more time-consuming than you might imagine, but it's nice, methodical work that gives us plenty of time to converse and play with fires, which is always fun.
IAMSORUGGED
And this week-or-so of work means that the heating costs for next winter are completely covered. Now that is what I call financially sustainable.
Just how many pieces of firewood can you fit into the bed of a truck?
One of the better parts about this experience is that Charles and Ellie always work with us, so there's a feeling of camaraderie about the work that we sometimes don't find at other farms. It's nice not to feel like an indentured servant.

And probably the best part about this experience is that I get to hang out with one of the only kids I've met that is sincerely and genuinely awesome. No tantrums, no whining, no pestering, just pure, unadulterated sweetness. If ever there was something to encourage me to coexist with one of those baby-things in the future, Lexi is it.
just hangin' out with the sheep.
Apart from all that, it's been raining a good bit, so with the help of Ellie, I've managed to get addicted to Top Chef. We've also done some productive things while being shut in...orange marmalade, homemade bacon, and British pastie-making included

But I'll save that for the next post, so keep in touch!

6 comments:

  1. Hey chowgypsy how much money do those farmers save by only using firewood from their olive trees to heat their house?

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    Replies
    1. hmm, I wonder who this could be! boy oh boy, they save lots of money, but we'll get into that later...

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  2. John, your childhood dream come true -- touching newborn lambs! Remember lamb reconnaissance in Rye? I've added this lovely spot to the long list of Places to Go that Chowgypsy has captured so beautifully. A real lift in this grim New England winter!

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  3. You definitely have some spots to hit in Greece now. Unlimited olive oil!!

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  4. Chowgypsy, thanks for writing this post, looking like an amazing time - I am currently looking to go WWOOFing in Greece (during summer) may I ask, is this family looking for more help and/or what's the name of the farm? Thank you!

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  5. Hi! Thanks for the interest. I'm sorry for my delay in responding! If you shoot me a private email @ kmeggs@gmail.com I can put you in touch :)

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