Last year it was rumored that olive rustlers were about. The hot gossip in the campo was that ‘somewhere’ near Seville a group of “Romanians” had rustled 70,000 kilos of olives in one night. “Watch your olives” we were warned. “You could lose your whole crop in one night”.
If you gave it a little more thought, you would know that a) it would not be possible to harvest (by hand) that many olives in one night, and b) it’s always “Romanians” who are blamed, although you never actually see any around! But it was a fun story nonetheless. We did not, however, post guards round our farm. And surprise, surprise, no olives were stolen.
Last year, we did, however, have our walnut crop rustled. We had been watching the walnuts, waiting until the nuts were ripe and ready to pick. Down we go one day, and to our horror, they were gone – nary a walnut to be found.
Was it the dreaded “Romanians”? No, almost certainly it was walkers. As we live right next to the Sierra de las Nieves national park, we get loads of walkers on our land, mostly because the footpaths are not well maintained, and our track is. I don’t actually mind the walkers on our land, as long as they respect the land, and don’t mind the dogs barking at them! But all too many of them are arrogant and selfish. Over the past few years, they have stolen walnuts, tomatoes, lettuce and melons. They have stolen firewood to be used as their walking sticks. They have trampled through our olive grove, taking a few with them as they go. And they threaten to report us when our dogs bark at them when they are trespassing on our land! We get a bit cross sometimes.
This week we had planned on collecting our almond crop. It had looked to be a good year for almonds (often, the trees don’t produce much). And they are soooo good for Christmas baking! So down the track we traipse, only to find the almonds…mostly gone. And big footprints (human variety) all around the trees. And the trees are right next to…you guessed it…the walkers’ path.
Manuel says we should put signs up asking people to please respect the land. But you have to figure that anyone who is prepared to steal an almond crop, will not be the type to take any notice of a polite sign.