A couple of weeks ago we experienced the first seriously wild and woolly weather of winter and I was prized from my tent and put into a house. Pat, my stonemason, had been gently asking me since Anzac Day if I might like to look after his son’s temporarily empty little cottage. I had been saying no, no and no. I just wanted to tough it out in the tent. And although cold, I felt that autumn was too beautiful to experience from the inside of a house.
But it occurred to me, when during a storm Pat offered again, that there is a fine line between stubbornness and stupidity and I had better say yes.
Once here in the house, it took about a nanosecond for me to abandon my frugal ways and gorge on easily available energy and conveniences. This house is off the grid with a giant solar array, large roof for water collection and oodles of firewood so I shouldn’t feel too guilty perhaps, but I note that the very human inclination toward consumption to the edges of availability is a tough habit to kick. My showers are too long, I keep baking in the giant gas oven, the fires are roaring.
I quit my full-time job recently and shifted down to three days a week, to give myself time to be on the land – to think, design, start some projects. A 50 acre property and hectic hospitality job do not mix. First I allowed myself a couple of weeks to recover from working long hours. And then friends started coming out to visit more. Then I found some good reasons to go to Melbourne a lot. And then it was too cold to get out of bed at the early hour that project-starting demands.
And so it is turning out that with my newly part-time job and the delights of living in a built structure I have plenty more time to do none of what I should be doing and much more of that which an electricity supply and great internet connection enable. I’m on eBay looking for all sorts of goodies. (A cast iron claw foot bath for $183.50 – sensible; a vintage Italian cutlery set – essential in some other universe.) I’m reading other people’s farm blogs. I spent a whole weird evening looking at friends’ profile photos on Facebook. I am new to this particular website and the awful irony is that I joined largely to get my blog out there, but now I’m diddling around on it instead of writing. hmm.
Luckily there has been a hell of a lot of progress on the stone dairy and therefore much to report. In pictures then…
That Mad Max contraption needs a little explanation. My neighbour, Maurie Gervasoni, cobbled it together from a few vehicles and named it the MoveMore. It does what it says. Maurie is the grandson of one of the original Italian settlers in Yandoit. He is 78 and an example of what happens when you live a resourceful, active life. Nimble, fit, engaged, entertaining and full of knowledge, he is a fine neighbour.
Thanks to Briele for the lovely portraits of the lads.