It’s been a glorious autumn, warmer than you’d expect and often sunny (though the 200mm of rain we had while we were on Flinders has left fences bedraggled over creeks, flooded the side roads and moved gravel into the paddocks). Our place, thanks to a badly built driveway up the middle, doesn’t drain all that well, so it’s quite sodden in parts, even now, three weeks after the deluge.
I’ve moved the pigs to their winter home, back under the pines where there’s more sun and it’s less steep and I can keep an eye on the girls when they give birth. The grass, and in particular clover, had come back beautifully, so there’s a bit for them to forage, though it won’t take them long to turn it over. It took them about 48 hours to turn over their new home, I’m sorry to say. I blame Peter Pan, the boar who is much bigger now than when he arrived. His tusks are more pronounced and his swagger more prominent. I have a healthy respect for his strength, it must be said, though he’s still as soppy as a puppy when you scratch him in the right spot on his back.
There’s one errant porker who is still roaming on the other hill. He’s too flighty to get into the trailer to take to the abattoir. Five attempts have left me scratching my head, and left him with a good few acres to forage in, though he’s on his own now after the last of his brethren went to the cutting shop. I don’t have the patience for moving a pig like this, but the only thing that will work is patience in combination with food. He and I don’t see eye to eye, so I’m letting Sadie, my missus, do the coaxing. They say women are better at moving pigs, and having seen the difference in approach, I can understand why.
Puggle Farm feels like it’s winding down for winter. The light, with only six weeks to go before the solstice, is starting to become an issue. The dampness that comes with the season is settling in on the south side of the house and under the trees.
Mushrooms have been leaping from the earth for a couple of months now, but what in autumn is a fungal blessing, in winter just feels dank. Luckily, I adore winter. You wouldn’t live in a place like this unless you weren’t afraid of the cold, and you can’t love it like I do unless you embrace frosts, fogs and the accompanying fires and whisky drinking.
So last night’s braised duck will be repeated all winter, using beef, pork, chickpeas or black beans; slow braised food that is sturdy enough to get you through the cooler days. For now, though, it’s still mild enough to feel like autumn, especially when the sun toasts the front of the house. It’s no accident that I chose a place that faces predominantly north.