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7 Jan 2010 - 12:32 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Christmas. A long table lunch. Great company. The two mates who make regular appearances in the show are there with extended families. Nick making sure the prawns are fantastic and the lobster fresh. Ross roasting a superb home-kill goose over several hours. And roasting it over the best goose-fat drenched potatoes, too. I make shortbread and mince tarts and a raspberry and rose geranium sherbet.

There’s a real sense of summer in the valley. Every day hay is being cut and tedded and baled. I learn a new word each week. A swale can mean a gully cut at the contour to slow the descent of water. Scrumping is what you do when you’re stealing apples. And tedding hay means breaking up the clumps so that it dries evenly (which can also have the side benefit of distributing different species of grass so they’re well mixed throughout).

Hay is important here, where winter means little grows and so you have to – as the cliché suggests – make hay while the sun shines. I used plenty of it last winter to keep the cow in shape. Hay is nutritious. Silage, which is left greener and is partly fermented, is more so but the large, round bales are too big to get in the barn. Straw is just straw – the stalks of thick crops or grass – and is good for the pigs to sleep in and the chooks to lay in, but not so for feed.

As I drive around the Huon I see paddock after paddock turned into hay. First it’s cut, then left to dry, then baled. Lots of people still make square bales, the ones you can lift by hand. Two Italians who were staying at Puggle Farm helped a local stack 300 bales on the last day of the year. It was over 30°C and they came back looking sun struck and worn out. We went swimming to cool down and watched lightening, nature’s own fireworks, from a barn party as 2010 came into being.

There are now 13 pigs on the farm. Peter Pan is the boar, a mass of dark skin and hair, but gentle within. His consorts are Tinkerbell and Wendy. Tinkerbell is already with pig though not due for a couple of months. The rest of the porkers are fattening; eating export reject cherries and eating a swathe through my bank balance.

A chicken died. Two others that were given to me died of old age, but this one was egg-bound. That’s a condition where the bird can’t pass an egg properly and it sent her system septic. I buried Blossom, my most beautifully feathered Barnevelder, the one that followed me more than the others, in the paddock out front. It’s probably about time to breed up chickens again, ready to replace the ones that have died. I haven’t bought a chicken to cook since eating the ones we reared ourselves. I am afraid the flavour will be such a disappointment.

New electric tape crosses the paddock. Coco is going into heat and mooing, which must annoy the neighbours. The frequency and tone almost sends me bonkers. The forecast is for warm, sunny days and soon the squid will be running in the Channel. Garden beds are planted, mulched or fallow. For the first time in ages I feel that the farm is under control.

There are still a thousand jobs to do. Chores to finish that I started in May. Firewood to chainsaw and stack before the onset of winter. But there’s also the local Folk Festival to enjoy and long evenings to spend having picnics under the quince tree and a decent amount of food trickling in from the farm.