Some of Tassie has seen it very tough. Like the fires in Dunalley that took a friend’s home amongst the hundred or so houses lost. Our friends had milled the timber. Built their home over five years. Yet they feel lucky. They had insurance. They are unharmed. They have fared better than some of their neighbours.
The whole state sat under a blanket of smoke. The mercury broke new records. Our farm went from green to pale green to golden brown in the space of a little over a day. Below average rainfall has meant buying in water to be able to shower at home. It’s curling the leaves on the rhododendrons. Killed a couple of natives. Drying out the raspberries on the vine.
The garden isn’t helped by the chooks. A few days before Christmas our new mother hen was taken by a quoll right on dusk. Left behind were a dozen young chicks. They now squeeze through the fence from the barnyard and head into the house garden, scratching up the mulch. Exposing the trees’ roots, and drying out the soil in the process. From the other side of the property, three adolescent hens are doing the same thing. Escaping the flock through a fence that the birds have excavated a hole beneath, only to forage near the house.
Luckily, the real garden, the one at the big farm, is bouncing along. After being neglected while I was at the Taste festival serving a couple of thousand pig buns for a week, it’s now neater, bountiful and a joy to behold. The asparagus seeds have finally taken hold and pushed up their feathery tops. The corn is headed skyward. The tomatoes are bushy and laden with flowers and tiny fruit. Even the spuds, which lay where the polytunnels once were, are ready to harvest, albeit a little later than we’d hoped.
Cygnet has quietened slightly. The annual folk festival attracts the crowds, and many linger a while after, helping to pick cherries or blueberries or strawberries. Others just enjoying the Huon Valley in summer and the chance of a longer break. We had some volunteer helpers on the farm, but they’ve been enticed by the cherry sheds and the lure of a dollar. A tent versus a pickers’ hut. Shade rather than weeding under the remarkably fierce sun. A crowd of like-minded travellers rather than hanging with the middle-aged couple scratching around in the dirt.
You can’t blame young French travellers for wanting a change of scenery. I wouldn’t mind a change in the scenery of my own. I’d be happy with some rain, and a little green appearing in the paddocks, less curling and yellowing in the leaves of the trees. At this rate, though, I might have to wait until March.