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17 Aug 2010 - 10:28 AM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Now this is a cabbage. Ox heart, it’s called, and looking at its glorious shape, that’s the perfect name for it. It could even be compared to the flame from a torch. (It’s organic, you can tell from the slug holes.) Inside it’s sweet and fat and juicy, but not very tight-headed. That, most likely, is a fault in the growing. Or, as is usually the case, a fault with the grower. I didn’t really water the vegie garden all winter, thinking that with low light and after last year’s deluge, the garden wouldn’t need it. No matter, what there is of the cabbage is as crisp and juicy as an iceberg lettuce and I make a winter risotto using it and some corned beef and the beef’s cooking water.

Winter ends suddenly, here, I remember from last year; a warning of what is about to leap upon us. The quince has buds on. The ornamental cherries in Hobart are in blossom. Longer days means grass is growing and bulbs are shooting and the bees are becoming more active. That, and we still have a couple of weeks before spring.

I’ve written, again, a list of chores. Make bee boxes. Add dolomite to paddocks to make the soil less acidic. Buy some blood and bone. Look at gypsum as a way to break up clay in the soak. Move pigs. Again. Consider getting a silo.

Bella has moved in. My gorgeous tall new Wessex sow has arrived and is settling in well. She’s in pig, due in a couple of months, and Tinkerbell is due next month. There’ll be a lot of little ones digging up the property in no time. I still have eight porkers fattening in the paddock, and big plans to have a new home for all the pigs by the middle of spring. Well, the new home for the porkers isn’t as exciting for them as it is for the business. They’ll be ready to take off any day now, and part of me is dreading the thought of dropping them off at the abattoir. Pure bred, old breed and magnificent, these are the first I’ve seen from the day they were born to now: Puggle Farm’s first litter, and all the more special – and heartbreaking to say goodbye to – because of it.

In the garden, things are moving slowly. The weeds are tall, as is the 'green manure" a crop of nitrogen fixing plants that I sowed in autumn and that will be mulched into the soil. Just a few no-dig potato beds going in – a couple of plants every two weeks, staggering the crop (to avoid frost as well as for practical reasons when going to eat them).

Lambs are due soon. Asparagus should be out of the ground in days. Maggie is still two months off coming home and before she comes there is hay to think about buying and storing, new fences for a borrowed paddock and the promise of a new calf to deal with. The list of chores is only going to get longer.