Visitors were coming for the weekend, as was bad weather. Rain, big winds and zero temperatures were promised.
Our usual guest entertainment involves, say, walks to the creek, quad bike rides, catching yabbies, or lying in the hammock.
Sometimes, making the most of the free labour, I will get a hand with whatever backbreaking job around the place had most recently presented itself.
Instead we looked like being housebound. I split logs for the small bedroom fireplaces, and for the big one in the lounge room I headed out on the quad bike and collected some dry timber.
Dear wife was cooking something special. There were a couple of good reds in the cellar. I got out the Scrabble. One guest offered to pick up the weekend papers.
It would be anti-social to read anything but the papers, so I would be putting down The Bush, a book that, so far, had been almost 'un-put-downable'.
Before I had just finished a chapter on early-19th century 'cedar-getters', who would go bush for months at a time to harvest the east coast's mighty red cedars.
The author, Don Watson, said that 'they ate little else but corned meat and tea and sugar' and quotes a cleric at the time who wrote of 'their habitation being merely a few sheets of bark temporarily piled together'.
The men 'had to learn how to get on with each other, much as they had to with the ticks, leeches, mosquitoes, poison trees and flesh-tearing vines'. More than a few didn't come back.
Soon our guests arrived, just before the rain, which started to bucket down.
The wind howled, the temperature dived, there was hail, all as forecast.
Our internet connection died because the satellite dish couldn't pick up signals through the cloud cover.
The solar hot water system confirmed, via cold water, that the sun wasn't shining.
One of our guests commented on the realism of the animal sculpture in the home paddock, but it was George, our resident wallaby, looking about as miserable as is possible.
He did turn his head at one point, so he hadn't frozen.
We stoked the fire, talked, ate and drank, and played board games.
We got along famously.
Ticks, leeches and mosquitoes didn't seem to be a problem.
A couple of brave souls ventured out during what looked like a break in the rain, only to be driven straight back indoors. But our survival, to state the obvious, was not in doubt.
That's what a couple of centuries can do for you.
- Ross and Gemma Pride have split their time between Sydney and Billagal, Mudgee, since 2001.