So aren't writers' hands supposed to be smooth and soft and elegant – untouched by the sun or adversity? Not mine. In between working on my computer, I have been running the farm. My hands are shrivelled from the cold and marbled and scarred with bruises, scrapes and love scratches from our playful cats and from cleaning out the sheep pen. Am trotting out the soothing aloe vera tonight. Will coddle my hands; will wrap them in bandages soaked with vitamin e oil; will sleep in cotton gloves until they resemble (oh irony of ironies) my male, city-dwelling, artist and business partner's tapered hands – those of Jozef.