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13 Jul 2011 - 10:19 AM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Rain slants and hits the window. Today, I saw the most brilliant of rainbows, a bold arc that touched the ground on both sides and with no dull spots. In Tassie, you see a lot of rainbows, but this one stopped me in my tracks.

Yesterday, I was stopped in my tracks on the way to Hobart. Snow had closed Vinces Saddle, the high point on the Huon Highway, and the snowploughs were busy making it safe. I didn’t have the ute; the four wheel drive would’ve been welcome in the resultant ice slurry, as I drove at an amble once the road opened again.

Winter has hit hard. Snow on lower peaks. Rain, wind, more rain. The paddocks are slush, the barnyard slippery and dangerous. The Huon River is flooding over the highway and some local farms look like fenced ponds. I did a book launch for my new release, Winter on the Farm, last week and little did I know that much of the frost, snow, mud and puddles pictured from last winter would be reality within days.

There are still rumours of the local abattoir’s possible demise, and possible saviours. The radio is full of carbon tax talkback. The cooker is on, the water’s very hot, and the last vestiges of a stonkingly bad cold are attempting to leave my body. My foot is still blue from the sprain over a fortnight ago, and Priscilla still doesn’t relish me trying to milk her and shows it with a good kick or two. Thank God for Sadie, is all I can say.

If you want to live this life – a smallholder’s life with all its commitments, responsibilities and unrelenting chores – it helps to be more than one. You either do it as a family or you need great neighbours, friends and relatives. We have all of those, but most of the relatives are far flung, the friends are busy with their own lives, and the neighbours have their own properties to manage. Sadie, a city girl who moved here for me, probably didn’t sign up for the endless rounds of work I’ve subjected her to by my physical failures. Though she does seem to relish much of the farm work and shine with pride at her successes.

For two weeks I’ve been out of action, and, in that time, feeding, milking, mucking out, spreading of gravel, parenting, stacking of firewood, and general chores had to go on. We’re ambitious with what we try to do on our modest little patch of earth, but when all is right, it feels like a doddle.

The last couple of weeks, as I’m sure Sadie would attest, are more like hard yakka than a doddle. The payoff, however, is that no matter how much it might feel like a chore, this way of living has more to recommend it than the work most people do in their lives.