26 Aug 2010 - 10:08 AM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Lambs. Doddery, wobbly legged, wonderful, playful lambs.

A neighbour reckons sheep always give birth in bad weather. Mine were born in the last week; when the rain fell heavily and the creek rose and the ewes, crazily, crossed over and their offspring, less than a day out of the womb, followed. I held my breath. Later I found one of the twins through the fence and up the road.

Two lambs met the outside world first on a cold night followed by a frosty morning. Mothers giving birth within hours of each other. The twins were later, and skinnier and more likely to wander off. They follow me as much as their mother. The risk of searching for them each morning is that they’ll see me and wander back to the house (over the creek) with me and not their mother. The risk of not searching each morning is that they may, yet again, have wandered off, out of the paddock, or into the creek.

The dry autumn has meant less feed for them than I’d hoped. They like a bit of lucerne chaff, I’ve discovered, though I’d rather they just ate grass. There’s grass aplenty in parts of the vegie garden that have been left over winter, but I can’t put the sheep in there.

Did a few chores this week. Spread a few hundred kilos of blood and bone over a paddock that the animals aren’t currently grazing, hoping to get some thicker, better growth come spring. Spread some gypsum and dolomite in the pig paddocks – they’ve turned it to mud and the gypsum will help break up the clay (they work it into the ground with their feet) while the dolomite helps cut the acid in the soil. I’ll re-sow that paddock in a few weeks, when the pigs come off it, though that means a year of no grazing, to let the pasture put down strong roots.

We’re starting to see signs of change as the days get longer. Already the wattle is in full bloom, a blaze of gold on the far hill. It’s that wonderful moment in the year, when the season hasn’t ticked over, but the plants are getting ready in anticipation.

This winter has been warm and dry, though it’s all relative. Warm in Tassie in winter is above 10°C. They tell me at the rural store that farmers have been busy this year, shunning the usual hibernation that sets in when it’s a bit cold and wet. Locals, me included, love the colder months, with their incredible light, moody hilltops, naked trees and steaming bowls of hearty food. Thankfully, none of that has changed. It’s still been cold enough to light a fire and stoke the Rayburn and eat slow cooked beef shin in red wine. In the depths of winter, the days still were cut markedly short, limiting the time I could spend outside doing chores, but not ruining the hours I did spend outside. Thanks to a milder, sunnier season, there was just a little more light and sunshine along the way.