Winter is here...

We are finished harvesting our fruits and plants for the year so now we are working on the clean up. We are pruning and trimming the vines and trees. Pruning is crucial for most fruit producing trees and can effect production the following year. Our olive tree had not produced any olives for almost three years but last year we trimmed it back before spring and were able to harvest nearly 6 kg. The vines are trimmed back to a Y shaped form and the supporting trees are trimmed back as well to create a distinct path or the vines to grow with room to produce.

Art has worked on winterizing the plumbing that runs from our reserve tanks to the house and the water pump. He also worked on cutting more wood, we installed a small wood burning stove in the kitchen for non-windy days. We had used the fireplace last year but decided the amount of wood for the fireplace compared to the wood stove consumption was a better alternative and less of a mess. Our fireplace now holds the firewood for the wood stove and blocks any kind of draft.

The rainy November and December was not so kind to our chickens we lost two to illness and out of the 13 baby chicks we had five roosters plus our head rooster Jack so the garden has become battle ground of dominance and we sacrificed one rooster to start to decrease the hostile environment. We also have a few new hens laying eggs so that is a positive. Our two piglets, Stewy and Chewy are fenced in various areas of the front garden with the vines and I hope their rooting will lessen my dig time around the vines come spring. So we are down to 2 pigs, 5 roosters, and 12 hens.

Weather wise we are holding near 50 for the high and mid-30 for the low and the rain seems to have disappeared from the 10 day forecast. We definitely have some super windy days, the two major wind patterns come from the south Shiroku winds, usually very warm but makes the air dusty and the northern Mulani i Hotit winds are cold and strong but clear the air and make our views crystal clear. A few peaks that surround our valley are barely showing some snow and so far no snow or flurries in the valley so far.

We are working on our garden plans for next year as we now know what to expect and what needs more love, attention and WATER. We have a very dry and hot summer so if it requires vast amounts of water it will be planted in smaller portions. We will not be planting nearly as many potatoes, squash, peppers or beans as we could not eat, can or freeze fast enough to keep up with harvest. Eggplants were probably the most disappointing crop from this year, my mother-in-law grills and then pickles these in large quantities and our garden barely produced five good size ones from about 15 plants. Watermelons are a staple in this house and our seedlings only produced small round watermelons so we will be planting different seedlings and a lot more of them!

Projects for 2020 include waterproofing the cellar for wine and food storage, tear down and rebuild of the back stone building for tools, livestock and possibly living quarters on a second floor so we can host again via AirBNB and paving the driveway and parking spaces. And adventure agenda includes the Theth to Valbona pass, possibly cycling from home to the starting point in Theth and further exploration of the caves and trails in the surrounding areas. We hope to have more visitors in 2020 as well, are you adding travel to your budget in 2020?? Because if you haven't maybe consider joining us for a week or two next year. Did I mention I LOVE ALBANIA!

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