It’s decided to rain. Winter has come at last, in spring. The first day of fencing, the wind blew and the sleet fell and the wattle that sprinkled on our heads looked remarkably like snow. The second day on the job was forecast to get to 12C, which I reckon it did about 9am before chucking it down and blowing all day. We were expecting snow up to 300m, there was a sheep grazier alert, a bushwalker alert, a road weather alert; the winds were expected to be gale force. Nice weather to be trudging up a muddy hill with 50kg of fencing wire, or 3m timber posts.
Of all the weeks, this has been the worst for outdoor work. Col (who I’m labouring for while he actually does the business end of the fencing) reckons my bush block is the worst fencing job he’s ever done, on the worst days of the year. Why I didn’t do it in April, or summer, is anyone’s guess. I suppose I wanted to plan what to do with the place more, to think a bit longer term than my initial misguided ideas for Puggle Farm. Fencing costs so much, both in materials and in time, that you don’t want to bugger it up when you do get around to doing it.
Anyway, crouching in mud, spinning clips around the bottom wire of a wallaby fence in the driving rain tends to make country living less romantic than most people think. This is the business end of the lifestyle, the necessity to get on with certain chores, regardless of what nature throws at you. Seeing fences criss-crossing the country, particularly around my part of the world where you only get small paddocks compared to the big country on the mainland or up north, is seeing money and labour laid bare.
Every strainer post is a hole dug. Every wire is latched onto the star picket by hand. Every gate is hung, picket driven and wire spun by people with leather for fingers and knees of stone. I don’t have either. I do, however, have bloodied knuckles and ingrained dirt and have lost a layer of skin from my palms.
Today, after another 20mm of rain overnight, with the far hill greasy with mud and it being impossible to traipse up and down tensioning the wire, I decided enough is enough and it’s time to wait the rain out. With any luck, it won’t keep raining for months like it did last year. When it’s done, there’s another hectare of land for the stock; some for the sheep and some for the pigs, who really aren’t enjoying the amount mud they have in their current home.
Tinkerbell is up on a drier hill and due any day. I’ve been adding more straw to her bed, more food to her ration. Fresh skinny young piglets will again grace the original pig paddock. If only for their sake I hope it stops raining and warms up before they poke their fragile heads into the world.