Rain in summer is always welcome, especially when there’s been a dry spell, of which we’ve endured for the last few months. When I say we, I’m really referring to the vegetables, at times they’ve struggled. No matter how much bore water goes on a plant it still won’t grow as well as it will after a good soak from above, it’s like they know. We can’t trick nature, she’s onto us.


The clouds emptied last night just as the light dropped over the western skyline. The sound of rain on the tin roof no doubt helping the kids drift off to sleep, well it sure helps me doze off. The morning sky was all low cloud, humid as hell, like the tropics had arrived. As I drove into town visibility was poor in parts, but it sure makes the daily forest drive just that much more spectacular, and that smell of the bush after a good drop from Huey. You just have to be there to experience it. I finished my errands in town and headed out to the new place we’ll be calling home in a few months time. It’s been on my mind to get that fence up for the new veg patch, to keep both the sheep and the rabbits out, the latter seems to be in plague proportions up at the new place. I guess I’ll have plenty of meat for the pot and the dogs dinner.


As the old jeep rattled up the drive, the wipers clearing away the thick mist I felt the autumnal weather sneak in as the door opened. I opened the old doors to the shed (which happens to be loaded with old farming treasure) and grabbed all the fencing gear I’d dropped of earlier in the week.


I set to work wiring up one side of the enclosure, the finishing work after the fencing contractor had installed the posts and gates. It’s been a few years since I used to do this fencing work as part of my daily job, many years ago in fact. It didn’t take long to get back in the swing of things, and after a few hours I had the beginnings of a fence, and a few wire cuts to remind me that I’m far from a pro.


In the next few weeks I’ll get the remaining wire up, next will be the galvanised chicken wire to keep the furry beasts away from my vegetables. With the fence finally up and hopefully vermin proof I’ll get behind a large hoe and turn the rich chocolate soil over and make my beds. Then finally I get to plant some winter veg. It’s one of the challenges of living off the food you grow in your backyard. You can’t muck around, you need to be aware of the impending seasons. Before long autumn will have come and gone, and if I don’t get the veg in now and give it a chance to establish then I’ve no hope of things growing during our desperately cold winter.


Winter gardens are just as important as the highly productive summer garden. Sure the variety is not as good, but it’s not just the food that grows in the garden over winter thats important. More importantly is to grow green much and nitrogen fixing legumes to prepare the soil for the warm season. It’s part of the annual cycle.

Kate took the jeep back home, so when I’d finished my fencing work I walked home. Over the hills, covered in mist. The normal vista blocked by low cloud reminiscent of a winters day, but I didn’t mind it set a nice mood. At the top of the hill I noticed something sitting in the middle of the road. As I drew near it was clear it was a beautifully crafted birds next, most likely blown out of the tree from last nights strong winds. I picked it up and examined the craft. What a clever bird to have made this home for it’s family, of such fine construction from an animal that can only use it’s beak to build. As I continued home I thought of my own recent efforts working on the fence. Which is really just my nest, my families nest. It’s just bits of things formed in some sort of order that provide us with shelter and food. We are just animals, but unlike the clever bird we rely on more unnatural things for ours nests. One day I’d like to build a nest thats as in tune with nature and purpose built as that humble pile of weaved sticks.


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  • Caleb Cluff

    Rain is great, except for the vigenerons, for whom it can be a disaster…

  • Nicola Galloway

    I wish it would rain here in NZ. We have just about run out of garden tank water, hopefully the rain comes our way now. Enjoy :)

  • Michelle

    Nice work Ro.
    From what I can glimpse of your new place, it looks gorgeous.

  • Erin Patel

    Hi Rohan. We are doing something similar on a much smaller scale (inner city Sydney). Do you mind expanding on the green mulch and lentils that you grow to prepare for your summer veg patch? Erin

  • Zoe

    Have you read Gay Bilson’s fab book Plenty? She has a nest thing.

    And I completely agree about Winter productivity. I’m in Canberra and Winter is a brilliant growing season if you like Italian greens and brassicas.

    • rohan

      Lucky for me I do!!! I love them!

  • zita fox

    beautiful photos, reminds me of home

  • Selby

    Yes a home as purpose built as a nest sounds grand:)

  • Trudy White

    Thank you Rohan for your stories So inspiring, evocative and beautifully crafted We have rain in Aireys Inlet at last today Best of luck with nesting your new place

  • Jude

    Beautiful post. The cyclical thing and the nesting thing together with the future creation of food.Amazing.

  • Robin

    I’ve stopped growing heat-tolerant varieties of vegetables I normally grow in winter so that I am not tired of them from fall to spring (I live in Maine, US). With the bush beans I freeze, the roots, squash and cabbage in the cold cellar and fresh greens in the high tunnel, I’m not missing tomatoes and peppers as much as I used to.

    Congrats on finding the new place that’s suitable!

  • Kerry Adams

    The smell of the countryside after a good rain is a wonderful thing.

    It is a bit dry around here at the moment, but no doubt, before we know it, it will be raining for days on end, and we will be praying for some sun.. such is the cycle of things.

  • Simon

    We had some willy wagtails build their nest in the most inconvenient place – our washing line. But i was pretty tolerant – it was an easy view point for us to watch them grow and the kids loved it. The big plus was that they used my vege garden as their buffet – i saw many a caterpillar go to hungry little beaks. They got a bit cranky at us when we were hanging the washing up (that cranky little tsch tsch tsch noise). They raised three little chicks which quickly grew to bursting point. It was quite comical to see the three of them jammed in this tiny little nest. One day they were fine to take off and flew the nest. Saw the five of them all getting round together after that.
    One day the kids had ‘news’ at school. I got up to pull the empty nest down, it was starting to get a bit weathered in that exposed position – the ingenious little buggers had anchored the nest to two arms of the washing line with two separate loops of string – i had to use scissors to cut it off. Looking at it closely it looked like they put one end of the thread in the nest wall whilst building with spiders web, mud and tiny sticks/grass then looped it around and stuck in the other end and kept building the wall up. It was pulled pretty tight. I would have dismissed it as coincidence if it was only once but they had done it to both sides. (my eldest ended up with an award for her news on that day)

    • rohan

      Very clever birds.

  • Niamh Kirwan

    I have been following your blog for a couple of months now and really enjoy seeing the email with a new post. What you are doing is so inspiring. I am traveling at the moment but am looking forward to having a garden again! Best of luck with the winter veggies.

    • rohan

      Thanks Niamh, I hope you get to that special place!!

  • Brendan

    I don’t quite know why but this post really appeals to me Ro. Must be because I read it while sitting in an office.

    • rohan

      I’m sorry Brendan. Thats you’re in an office.

  • Darrun

    we have a fEnce 2 abig fenCe

  • Darren

    Rohan, looking at your fencing pics and I’m not impressed, you need a real fencing lesson and a propper wire strainer. I can just see my dad and grandfather seeing those horrible twisty things being used and cringing. Get a wire strainer and do it properly, I think its more your style and cheaper!

  • Angus Hean

    hey mate. just making sure you have seen Kevin McClouds “man made home” on ABC at the moment. very clever.