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Frigana Cutting at the Greek Hovel - this should be an Olympic sport

Tom Winnifrith
Tuesday 23 September 2014

I have slightly cheated and brought in an local, Vangelis,  to assist me with the frigana cutting. He has a few advantages over me. He is fit and young. He is fearless, wading into bushes not worrying about what wildlife diversity might be hiding there. His big advantage is that he has an ultra-powerful frigana cutter. In motorbike terms he has a 500 cc cutter, I have a 125 cc cutter. But he is also an artist. Watching him weld his frigana cutter is a pleasure, he twists and turns, stabs and swipes and the evil bushes just disappear. 

My guess is that by Thursday at noon, 2000 square metres of frigana will be no more. His last patch is in the far corner of the property and is dense and old. Some of the frigana bushes have become trees and for them a saw is needed.

My last patches are one half terrace on the Kambos facing side, a small patch next to the entrance the sheep use to get on the land and then the outside fences on the two tracks either side of the land. I managed five forty-five minute sessions today, after each one I was drenched in sweat and breathless. Even my 125 cc type frigana cutter is heavy and to tackle the plant at floor level and then on walls above head height uses every muscle in your arms. Five more sessions tomorrow and my bit is done.

The whole property is now covered in cut frigana branches. The oldest are golden brown, today’s cuttings are still a deep green, those from a few days ago are now turning light green. Walls, terraces and steps that have not seen the sunlight for years are now exposed in all their beauty. Two stone circles (threshing circles perhaps?) have emerged. 

I shall post some videos when we are done to show you what I mean. But I feel very satisfied now as I can survey the land to its far extent. We are almost there.

Frigana cutting should be an Olympic Sport. You could design a standard course with bushes, rocks to climb and a sprinkling of snakes dispersed throughout and then the competitors would be judged as in ice dancing on technical merit (how many bushes cut right back to the root in an allotted time) and artistic impression, how skilfully the blade is weeded. Killing a snake should earn bonus points.

I reckon my Greek pal is a shoe-in for the gold medal. I see myself as an Eddie the Eagle Edwards competitor for team GB. I think the view in Kambos is that I have some idea what to do but everyone knows that it is a bit of a struggle and that the snakes are an issue, but applauds the effort anyway.





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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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