The son didn’t ask again—just got the tractor and plough
and cut up the soil—slicing right through the survey marker.
His father hit the roof. “This is Rogers & Son
farming! And Son! Remember that, Dad! It’s been
years fallow, wasting money while you scheme to make your
suburb in the country. You stitched up the fools on Council
with your boom economy dreams, your sub-
division in paradise, but you haven’t stitched me up.

People want something rustic! An old place in town with that
shingle roof and rose garden, not a square brick shithouse in
the middle of an empty paddock. Not
even city slickers will help you make
your mint—it’s damn cold here in the winter, and bloody hot
in the summer. No amount of spray will stop the mossies
coming up from the river. That paddock
will go sixteen bags if we crop it—it’s good soil and there’s

little enough of that in this dead valley.” They came to blows;
the mother, crying, told her son that she thought the father
wrong, but had seen the red sunset over
the purple mountain, hand-on-hand, decade
on decade, and wouldn’t turn traitor now. Maybe it was
time he moved on, started his own family: trapped rabbits
and hunted foxes further out. “Stuff you
both!” he yelled, into the car and cutting up the gravel

on the way to the pub, dead set on a bender. He’d fuck
Belinda the barmaid—“that slut” as his mother called her—
because it’d get right up their noses.
He kind-of-loved her, so fair enough. Two
days into the drinking, he heard that his parents had cleared
out to Perth. He went out to the farm, elegant parrots
moving lightly about the machine shed,
rats outrunning clods he hurled at the crossbeams they

in all lights, and hitched the seeder to the tractor, loaded
super and seed-wheat, and hit the paddock, working himself
sober, getting a good run in before
emptying the boxes. He walked to the shed,
loaded the truck, and went out to finish the job. He worked
until finished. “They’ll thank me for it later.” He returned
to the barmaid’s bed in the room over
the public bar. The next day he went back out to survey

his handiwork, his father already busy ploughing
it over, ripping and gouging through the paddock, mother
standing by the top gate with a thermos
flask of tea and esky of sandwiches,
should her husband want to take a break and a bite to eat.