I don’t need a clock much anymore. It’s been a while since I lived by the 9-5 rules, and these days it is things like our stomach (or those of our many animals) that drive the day.

The exact times change with the length of the days, but the routine is the same.

At 5am, the cats start fighting. The ding-ding-ding of the bells on their collars wakes us up. We let them outside to do their business.

At 5:30am, they are back at the door for breakfast. We feed them.

At 6am, the ducks turn up for food too. They have to be fed before the chickens are released, or fights occur. The chooks have been here 2 months and apparently will forever be the mortal enemies of the ducks. Both sets of poultry spend the day roaming around the compound like street gangs, fighting over scraps.

By 6:30am, the sun is up enough that the chooks start to complain about being stuck in the coop. We let them out. They immediately go to wherever the ducks were fed and scratch up whatever is left.

At 7:30am, it’s time to go water the plants in the greenhouse. This has to be done in the morning or they end up wilting. If I’m late and the sun is already hitting the greenhouse then it’s a hot and sweaty job. When I’m done, I take a walk around the garden to check progress. I decide what to do for the day.

The tasks for the day are mostly decided by weather. Too much wind or rain makes it difficult to achieve much. After the weather, by the season and the moon calendar. There’s never less than 20 things on the ‘to do’ list on our whiteboard.

Between 8:30 and 8:45am, a small plane flies over us heading north-west. We’ve figured out it’s a tourist charter taking the scenic route to Ninety Mile Beach. Sometimes I wave.

By 9am, I’m ready for today’s activities. If it’s raining, then it’s a good time to study, write, research and plan. If it’s fine, then we’ll get out and weed, dig, plant, or construct. This week we’ve been de-rusting a bath and/or building a new garden for a crop of luffa until it gets too hot. Then we’ve been escaping the heat in the forest where we are building a seat for our bush pond from a couple of Taiwan Cherry trees we felled.

By 11am, the sun (if it’s out) is beating down. Our spidey senses tell us it’s time to slop on sunscreen. We are making short progress on a litre of the stuff.

By 1pm, we are probably tired. If it’s sunny, then it’s hot. We’re hungry. It’s time for food. Then maybe a siesta, or maybe back out to finish this morning’s job.

At 6pm, our stomachs are thinking of dinner, and we cook and eat while streaming the news. As I cook, I throw the scraps directly out the kitchen window to the chickens who are circling below. They know where to be at this time of night. We boil the kettle and soak some wheat for the ducks. Every couple of days they get frozen peas or something rescued from the garden as well.

After the weather report, at 7pm, it’s time for a walk. We still have not discovered all the secrets of this place. We pick a direction and explore. Often the cats come with us, bounding over the fields and through the underbrush.

By 8:30pm, the sun is going down. The first chicken goes to the coop and hops up on her rail. We bribe the other chickens in with some food and collect the day’s eggs, locking them away for the night from predators.

Once the chickens are away, the ducks can have dinner. All 6 of them have been following us about the compound, quacking loudly, since we got back from our walk.

Then the cats show up, ready for their dinner too. We boil the kettle and soak some more wheat for the ducks in the morning. The doors and windows are closed and we snuggle up together to sleep, ready to start again before dawn tomorrow.