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24 Sep 2009 - 7:30 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Maggie has arrived. While I loved getting the chooks, adore the pigs, am still totally ambivalent about the turkeys, and can’t imagine life without the dog, Maggie is another thing altogether. A very good thing.

For a start, she’s probably 600kgs. She’s an impossibly good looking jersey cow, who has a young, black Angus cross calf at heel that I’ve christened Coco. At dawn and dusk she wanders up to the barnyard, waiting patiently at the gate, like all good milking cows do. Her massive girth fills the barn, as I feed her oaten chaff and hay, training her in the routine I’ll follow when I start to milk. It’s terrifying and thrilling to be with her in such a confined space, me trying to control her, when she is actually the boss of me. She trod on my foot, once, in the paddock, and I don’t want that to happen on the hard concrete floor of the barn.

It didn’t take me long to be smitten. Her long lashes and deep brown eyes. Her gentle demeanour. Her coarse tongue. A house cow, I’m thinking, is a very nice thing indeed. Especially compared to turkeys. She follows me whenever I have work to do in the paddocks, and wanders over to say hello when I’m in the house garden. One day, very soon, I’ll hopefully befriend her enough to get my own milk. Coco is still suckling, so – in theory at least – I can choose the time and amount.

It’s started to chuck it down lately. Several inches of rain in a few days. The creek has broken its banks, turning part of the paddock into a second rivulet. The valley floor has become a soak. One of the footbridges is under water, the other is nearly submerged and where I patched the fence after the runaway sheep incident, well, that dodgy bit of wire is probably washed down to Port Cygnet by now.

The rain is sorely needed. Some say it’s the best in a decade, and my bush block in particular has been crying out for moisture in the soil. The paddocks, however, with the cloven hoofs of the sheep and Maggie’s enormous feet, are becoming increasingly muddy. Something tells me I won’t be out of gumboots before spring.

I’ve moved the chickens out of the mudroom. Finally. The smell, the inconvenience, the constant dust were driving me mental. They’ve been out in their coop for a few weeks, and I’ve been teaching them to roost. Do chickens need to be taught? Some people say yes, if they don’t have grown ups for company. Some of the birds are looking suspiciously different to others, with larger combs. I think, perhaps, I have more roosters on my hands than I was expecting.