Weeks of rain has soaked the hills of our farm, washing away summer’s parched earth and replacing it with a lush green buffet for our little herd of cows. Autumn, the second season we’ve seen here, is a riot of colour. Our paddocks are brimming with verdant pasture offset by explosions of red, orange and yellow from the liquid ambers and golden ash. The bare, dusty hillsides of summer now seem like an impossible memory.
The ground is damp and green, which means that it is safe to make a fire now. I spent most of summer on high alert for the faintest whiff of smoke, ready to whisk my babies to safety at the first sign of danger. But nature’s pendulum has swung and fire is our friend again. With the change of seasons we’ve kissed and made up. Fire now has work to do. It warms our home with its happy crackle from the woodstove in the corner of the living room, and it also helps us tidy up the debris in the paddocks. Better to burn it ourselves now in the safety of a cool autumn day than let a bushfire get hold of it next summer.
Bonfires also present the opportunity for a bit of cooking fun. Lunch today was baked potatoes, corn on the cob, with hot jaffles stuffed with roast beef, cheese and chutney, all cooked in the coals of the bonfire burning in our front paddock, Smoky and delicious, we ate the potatoes with sour cream, cheese, chives and bacon. The corn was perfect served in the husk, smeared with butter and a sprinkle of salt.
Hopefully next autumn the spuds will come from our own garden, the beef will be from one of our young steers, and we’ll have some apples from our orchard for the chutney. But before that, there are beds to be dug, mulch to be laid, fruit trees to prune… the list goes on.