19 Dec 2009 - 5:09 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Summer feels different down here. Not least because it doesn’t always crack the 20°C barrier in December. Which means that the seasons are a little out of whack. So right now I’m eating handfuls of raspberries. Lots of strawberries. Every day I’m getting broad beans from the garden, and the leafy greens are racing out of the ground. It’s like spring and summer combined.

The garden is netted, hopefully possum proofed. The asparagus is planted, though I won’t be able to pick any for another two years. My raspberries and apples are covered in leaves, but not flowering, so I probably won’t get a crop this year. There’s a smattering of strawberries on the two plants I put in. My garlic is looking terrific, the onions are going into dinner each night and the salsify has sprouted. There are even four types of potatoes in the ground. I’ve sowed carrots and jerusalem artichokes and rainbow chard. All of which I’ve been trying to plant between doing all the other jobs that have to be done at this time of year.

There are new pigs due any day soon, and I need to move the cows Maggie and Coco out of the main paddock to let the grass recover. A corner of the block isn’t fenced, but it is over knee high in lush green grass. I’ve been walking Maggie over there, on the end of a rope, to get her fill. If I knew anything at all about electric fencing, I’d be able to rope it off and not waste hours gazing at the far hills while Maggie chomps. So it’s off to the local rural store for kilometres of hot-tape, a mountain of star pickets, an energiser and three thousand insulators. Best of all, the people at Elders gave me a quick lesson on how to fence. It sounds like electric fencing is for dummies. Like me.

Next thing I know I’m the proud owner of one strand of very hot hot-tape that seems too flimsy to do anything useful in the face of a 600kg cow, but somehow keeps her in. I bring Maggie up to the main paddock early evening ready for an early morning milk, leaving her daughter Coco to check out my handiwork on the corner block.

There’s a new farmer’s market in Hobart, where George and Hillary sell the most amazing fresh greens, I meet a woman from Cygnet who hand crafts her own chocolate truffles, and there’s a huge queue that turns out to be for Tinderbox pink-eyes. Tasmanians just love good potatoes. And they grow sensational potatoes down here. I buy some dill, which George says I have to grow, because it comes in a punnet, not a bunch. I wonder if it’s another thing for me (or the possums) to kill. I take it home and make dinner.

Fresh dill, some chicory shoots from the garden, a little salted red onion fresh from the vegie patch, and lovely delicate lettuce greens from George and Hillary accompany a goat’s fetta omelette. Everything, except the salt and pepper, comes from Tasmania, from people I know or have met. It puts me in a good frame of mind and makes me feel that I might one day get enough of a hang of this farming thing to produce a goodly amount from the farm. Right on dusk, however, a neighbour calls over to say he found a frightened calf meandering around on the road and he’s locked Coco up in the barnyard. I know she won’t be able to escape so easily from there, but it does mean tomorrow I’ll need to rethink my fencing strategy.