Lifestyle Block Winter in New Zealand I lived in the tropics for ten years before I realised that I quite like winter. I’m talking about real winter here: bare trees, howling south-westerly gales and frosty air so sharp that the contents of your nose freeze solid. Contrast this with 12 degree winter nights in the tropics, where people throw on a polar fleece but still wear jandals to go outside and cook the annual roast on the BBQ. I love wintry darkness, open fires and big pots of soup. I love hearing the rain smash into the windows while we’re snug in our little house. These things make me want to hibernate. And that’s problematic. Everything I enjoy about this season involves being warm and dry and inside. It has nothing to do with moving sheep in a blizzard or trying to clean water filters with numb fingers. Holiday? What holiday? I used to think there wouldn’t be much happening on a farm in winter. I’d be able to spend a couple of months tootling around Australia’s North West in a campervan like all those farmers I met when I used to live there. Foolish newbie lifestyle block farmer woman! If anything, the To Do list is longer. You can see the bare bones of the land, so it’s a good time of year for big projects. Our winter job list includes: planting fodder willow trees, building raised beds and installing irrigation in our tunnel house, getting up-to-date with our horticulture studies, designing and creating a chook garden, installing a water tank and vast amounts of pruning. As Ewan is currently working off the farm, and I’m a writer and therefore an arch-procrastinator and borderline feral who loves mooching around in a dressing gown all day, it’ll be interesting to see how much of that list actually gets completed this year. The Social Solution There is one thing that’s always guaranteed to balance out the cold, wet working days, get me wearing proper clothes and banish my hibernation cravings: a good party. And isn’t winter just brilliant for that? At this time of year, we really do live the rural community dream. We take turns at hosting the Tophouse Road Supper Club potluck dinners with our neighbours. Our Rural Women branch holds its annual winter knees-up. The local school invites everyone to a Matariki celebration. Ultimately, winter for us is about growing community and strengthening friendships. It’s a great way to pass the time until the grass kicks off again. And no, I don’t miss those tropical winter nights at all.