Is there such a thing I wonder ? I’m sure they are in terms of home life and indeed to many a farmers life is an idyllic one being close to the soil and in many ways very much your own boss. Mind you seeing the hours Salvatore our local guy nearby works there isn’t much time to think about it being idyllic that’s for sure.
No it is more when farmers are asked about the prospects for the crops this year or whether the weather is what they would want for at a particular time of year. then it is very hard to find an happy bunny amongst them.
I lived in Florida for 3 years and there each winter as a cold snap descended from the North as happened about three times each year the airwaves were full of morose looking farmers being interviewed about the damage the cold might inflict on the citrus crop. Never once did I hear any of them say “well might not be too bad” or” we do have burners that we light on cold nights to keep the frost at bay so no real worries” Oh no however mild the cold snap the citrus fruit was doomed as Private Frazer would always say in Dad’s Army.
So too here in Puglia the farmers are always looking ruin in the face. Each year the Puglia weather wacks us with periods of truly awful weather and dependant on the time of year a crop is selected by the farmers to be faced with imminent annihilation.
Worse here is, of course, that we have Brussels just up the road as it were eager to hand out compensation for any agricultural mishap and the farmers to a man or woman know this. The worse they can make it sound the bigger the cheque from Brussels. Generous those lads and ladettes in Brussels, anyone would think it was their money they were throwing around.
So what of the bad weather in April. Well readers whilst I have been telling you it hasn’t been great the farmers of Puglia have, it seems, been having a torrid time of it.
Nothing has been right in April after the mild February and March had brought the crops on so well. Some days have been too springlike others too cold, others too wet, others too dry the list goes on and on. This is just a short extract from the report
“It rains a lot, temperatures are low and there is a hailstorm every once in a while. Cherry orchards have been damaged and things are not looking good,” explains one of the operators.
“It is still not over, and the products most at risk are cherries, potatoes, peas and courgettes, but some vineyards have also been affected.”
“We should have started harvesting potatoes after Easter. Now we have to wait for the soil to dry up, and there may be some problems in the areas affected by hailstorms. The advantages created by the fact that crops were early have been now cancelled.”
And photos back up the claim
Cherries apparently on a tree near Bari. This is what they say;
“Cherry orchards in the Bari province were particularly affected, so much so that 40% of Bigarreaux orchards were destroyed. The problem is that many families depend on cherry production, so they are now not able to make a profit or even break even,” explains Gianni Cantele, Chairman of Coldiretti Puglia.
Last year it was the tomatoes though some kind of turnaround must have occurred as the Governor was praising the large rise in production and the big increase in exports in 2013 just three weeks ago . Whats the betting cherry prises rise this year however the crop comes out in the end. Oh I’m a cynic aren’t I !
Today is another National holiday. It is Liberation Day though several guys in the bar told me it was Independence Day!! It celebrates the end of WWII in 1945 but of course down here in the south the war was over by the end of September 1943 when the Germans withdrew back to Naples and the Allies quickly took back the whole of Puglia and Calabria. It followed the invasion of Sicily which didn’t cover the Allied army in glory but did provide a raft of things to change ready for D day the following year. Indeed the only thing that went well was the brilliant ruse of having a body washed up in Spain carrying papers showing the invasion was going to happen somewhere else and not Sicily. It was made into a great 50’s war movie ” The Man That Never Was ”
Don’t you love those 50’s trailers ? In fact the full story wasn’t even told in the film as most of the facts were still classified as top secret. there is now an excellent book called Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre which has finally got the whole amazing story. I read it this winter and loved it.
So in the South whilst they take the holiday it really means little to them whereas the North, which endured 2 more years of truly terrible war and were not liberated fully till after the fall of Berlin, it means a great deal. Yet another example of the divisions in the country. The South were anyway very pro Mussolini and also voted in huge numbers to keep the king after the war so again had little in common with the North who voted overwhelmingly to get rid of him. Maybe the guys in the bar thought it was Independence from the North they were celebrating. now that is something most down here would have an holiday for.