Tony, who did our grafting, said his dad had an expression for the kind of rain we get in summer. Drought rain: It wets a bitumen road, not a dirt road. Sounds unlikely, unless you live up a dirt road and see just that. Rain that can wet a roof, but not a garden.
11 Dec 2012 - 4:25 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

We pulled our garlic in, just as it rained enough to be a worry for mould. Thankfully, we have a hay shed, where the garlic lay in the breeze and a little sun, until it was time to tie it and hang it. The picture shows one of the batches. A fine set of large bulbs that will hopefully keep away the vampires until late next year. When our garlic starts to sprout (commercially they often spray garlic to stop it doing that), there’s a month or two where there’s precious little of the pungent herb, and a herb it is, to lace our broths, our stews, our pasta. For now, we have a glut, plenty to use with my roast pork, and enough besides to use for seed for next year.

In the garden now is corn. Tomatoes. Zucchini and pumpkin. The potatoes are flowering, but the crop won’t be ready for the stall we’ll have at The Taste Festival. I’ve been starting the pump a lot, to water the ground that was waterlogged not that long ago. Giving the crops a drink, though I think I wasn’t conscientious enough for a couple of the new apple trees. Between the warm days, and the drying winds, they suddenly looked parched. I can foresee a summer spent battling to keep the garden alive. God knows how people in really hot climates, like mainland Australia, do it. Part of it is having a system. Part of it is the quality of our soil; something it’ll take the better part of a decade at this rate to improve to my liking. Part of it is our exposed site; a blessing to work on in mid winter, but a bit tough on the hot days without a patch of shade around.

We’ve eaten well off Fat Pig Farm this year. We’ve battled big winds, ferocious slugs. We’ve had birthing dramas, learnt how to build new shelters, erected shade cloth for the sheep. Put up a smoke house, roasted a goose. Chomped innumerable carrots and fed them to my son as he roams the garden. Planted trees, moved fences. Learnt to siphon water, to rotate cattle up and down the whole 1km of paddocks on either side of the creek. We’ve attempted more things than we had time for, really. We’ve failed, succeeded, and often come out somewhere in-between, with plenty of tucker for the table and experience to help make next year a little easier. With the help of an occasional farm hand, Sadie and I have done most things using our own manual labour, giving us bodies that are stronger than we’ve ever had, and victories to inspire us for another year.

Yes, the farm still costs us more to run than it earns. But that will slowly change as we convert it to our uses. Yes, we do waste time and effort on things that probably don’t matter, or that are doomed to fail anyway. Yet the only way to learn is to attempt things, whether you’re met by triumph or disaster. I’m glad we’re not sitting on our hands wondering. I’m proud of what we have achieved, and philosophical about what we’ve botched. The only people who don’t make mistakes are those that don’t do anything.

Sometimes I think I do too many things, but this glorious life goes by so quickly that you just have to give it a crack. I spent many years in jobs that aren’t nearly so satisfying as working the land, and I don’t want to miss out on anything now.

So long as the body and mind hold up, I’m more than just a little excited about 2013.