Frost On The Flats!

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.” 
J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

Brrrr!
I’m late blogging this morning because we were up early to feed out to our cows.
A big roundbale of hay, and some mixes of molasses, copra and minerals to help the mums stay strong as our cows out all of their nutrition into the milk that is feeding their calves.

My fingers are still numb. The tip of my nose is rosy with cold.

Our dogs are a damp waggy mass of smiles and boundless energy.

And all around us the ground is dusted with frost.

Now it’s time for a cup of tea and a hot shower before we head off into Byron Bay for my weekly acupuncture and tune up.

Sending massive hugs your way, Nicole ❤ xx

PS – Thanks for all your lovely messages yesterday. A cry or two, a big sleep and this morning I’m good as new.

I Thought I’d Recorded A Relaxing Meditation For You, But Then This Happened

“The world is too quiet without you nearby.” 
Lemony Snicket

I decided to record you a guided meditation yesterday.

I sat in the sun, with birdsong all around me, moved into deep relaxation, closed my eyes, and spoke into my little recorder.

Then I came back to the house and listened to the recording. It was marred by loud noises. I wasn’t sure what it was. Static maybe?

In fact I thought it might be the recorder itself.

So I tried to record three more times. But the same thing kept happening.

Then I saw this…

Problem solved.

Rufous just wanted to sit beside me while I was working.

I’ll try again tomorrow!

Much love, Nicole ❤ xx

Hay, Hay, Hay – it’s a drought!

“Without water, life would just be rock.” 
Anthony T. Hincks

 

It’s been a strange winter. I can count the number of really cold days on my fingers. Mostly it has been as warm as spring, and sometimes warm as summer. No-one jokes about global warming anymore. It’s here, and the evidence is all around us.

In 2015, in response to rising baseline temperatures at our farm we pulled out an entire heritage citrus orchard that could no longer tolerate the increased UV radiation and heat that has become the new normal in Byron Shire. We’ve slowly replanted with native food trees and tropical varieties of traditional fruit trees. But it’s all a glorious experiment.

The plants on our farm this winter don’t seem to know what to do – some are flowering, some dropped a few leaves, some have leaves dropping and new leaves growing and flowers trying to bud all at once. Birds have nested early or haven’t started yet. Some of our trees have produced two fruiting cycles instead of one, and both of them out of season. Nature can’t seem to settle into any kind of normal rhythm.

The deep frosts that were once a normal part of our winter have become occasional, and not enough to kill the weeds, ticks and other pests that would normally be decimated and controlled by a period of intense cold. Lyme and other tick-borne diseases are rampant, affecting humans and animals alike. It’s worrying. Meanwhile the rising ocean temperatures mean that sea creatures like the Irukandji jellyfish with its deadly sting – once known only in tropical waters – are slowly drifting south and may end up here within a few years too.

Our farm a few months ago, when there was abundant rain and feed.

Around us the neighbours’ farms are already flogged. Winter is our hardest season – dry and cold enough that the grass grows slowly if at all. Feed for livestock always runs low in our district by winter’s end.

Here at our organic farm we have paddocks locked off and we cell graze, rotating our herd through each paddock one by one to give the pasture time to rest and for the grasses to set seed and rejuvenate and the native wildlife to have their habitat too. Looking after our soil and the grasses, plants and animals that create biodiversity and habit is important to us. We still have feed, and we maintain a smaller herd than we could carry for the size of the land, but we don’t want to use the paddocks that are closed off for rejuvenation. When you graze everything down to nothing it can take years to regain that natural biodiversity of species. We’re fortunate to still have that luxury of pasture management. Many farmers have not a blade of grass left and have been feeding out for months or even years.

Looking after our herd is important. They will be used by other farmers to restock their own land and to breed from. These are good bloodlines that we carefully nurtured over years and preserved at great effort during that last big drought.

We’re worried about the summer ahead. Already we have a bushfire plan, and we’re thinking about what we can do to keep our farm green, well watered and fire hazards to a minimum. We’re thinking about how we can help the trees, the bees and native wildlife. We’re planning for hardship if our district ends up going back into drought as much of the rest of Australia already has.

Yesterday we bought a truckload of hay from a farmer we know an hour south of us. They’ll be delivered later this week but we hauled one bale home with us straight away to feed out to our girls – big round bales of dried bluegrass that can nourish the cows and spring calves if rain doesn’t come soon. Our plan is to still try and keep some of our pasture locked off until summer to protect that seedbank and nurture the revegetation we’ve worked so hard to create.

The hay might end up being mulch for our orchard and vegetable gardens too. Everything suffers in a drought. Having endured eight straight years of severe drought back on our old farm we are keen to be prepared, and if necessary to rethink everything. We can’t do another stint like that again.

We’re doing our best to strategise, to think ahead, to plant and grow food that works with the prevailing conditions. Here’s hoping we get at least some of these adaptations right. We also bought hay yesterday to gift to struggling farmers and do our bit to help keep them on their farms. We’ve been in their shoes, and we know how soul-crushing it can be and how isolated and desperate you can come to feel.

Meanwhile here’s a little happy news – our latest addition, a baby male calf that a friend’s son has named Li’l Onion (Eli’s four and thinks of impossibly crazy names for things!).

Sending much love your way, Nicole ❤ xx

PS – Australian farmers are doing it tough right now. Whether they are growing crops, managing dairy herds or raising livestock many of them are struggling from prolonged drought and extreme weather events – and their struggle is relentless. If you’d like to help here are some ways that you can:

Drought Angels

Aussie Helpers

Lions Need for Feed

Salvation Army

 

 

 

 

A Posy Of Weeds For My Friend

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

~ Muhammad Ali

 

I have a friend who waits for me every day.

Our big tough bull – or Red Bull, as we call him.

Each day he walks along the fence until he catches a glimpse of me. He might wait until I am out in the vegetable garden or hanging out the washing. Sometimes he comes and stands on the other side of the fence level opposite my kitchen window.

When he sees me and catches my eye he makes a little noise, a tiny little ‘ooof’ – a cross between a sigh and a grunt of acknowledgement – loud enough that I can hear him but soft enough that he doesn’t attract the attention of the herd.

As soon as I can I go and gather a posy for him. I pluck comfrey and dandelion leaves from where they grow wild in the lawn. I pick tender weeds. Sometimes I will add a few herbs. And then I walk across to the fence and he comes to greet me and I pass him his tasty posy.

He always tries to be discrete but sometimes the greedy older cows cotton on to what is happening and rush over, pushing him out of the way so that they can have a share as well. He never complains and stands aside to let them in like a true gentleman.

That’s Daisy Mae’s nose you can see in the picture below. She barged in on us and ruined our date. I love her too, but gee she’s bossy and, of course, she brought all her friends!

Tomorrow at the Farmers Markets I’ll buy a bunch of carrots so I can keep the tops for Red Bull as a special treat. He loves those.

I never thought I’d count a one-tonne gentle giant as a dear friend, but I do, and I look forward to our daily meet-ups as much as he does.

Wishing you a day blessed with friendship too.

Much love from all of us here at the farm, Nicole ❤  xx

 

Oh Rufous! Poor sore paw!

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” 
Will Rogers

Poor Rufous had an accident on Saturday. While out mustering the cattle in cold, wet and muddy conditions he ripped a toenail almost off his front foot and cut it badly.

We only noticed when he started licking his foot later, as he was warming up in front of the fireplace. So it was off to the vet who had to operate to tidy his foot back up again.

Oh dear, what a dopey pup came home to us on Saturday night. Full of drugs and anaesthetic and too wobbly to walk Ben had to carry him into his bed.

His bandage stayed on for all of Sunday. And then suddenly it was off!

I resorted to a sock taped onto it to keep it clean.

But that didn’t last long either. We didn’t want him to lick it and infect the wound so now we have resorted to a bucket on his head. Poor Rufie!

Poor Harry is hiding from Rufous because Rufie keeps bashing his big brother with the bucket. Ouch! Our shins know it too…

If there was a more miserable dog than Rufous right now I wouldn’t believe it. But I’m sure he’ll be back to his bright-eyed and happy self again in a few more days. Meanwhile, we’ll give him and Harry extra pats and cuddles,

Hugs to you all, Nicole ❤ xx

 

Trapped by Dog!

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” 
Edith Sitwell

Winter arrived overnight at our farm. Brrrr! So cold this morning.

And this morning after my meditation I popped back into bed to warm up and a small dog jumped up on the bed and snuggled down right on top of my legs. He was warm so I left him there and went back to sleep. But when I woke up and was ready to get out of bed he refused to move. ‘Too cold, Mum,’ he protested, grizzling at me for disturbing him. Too cold even though he is dressed in his winter coat, and should be toasty warm. Poor Rufous isn’t much of a tough farm dog. He’s a cuddle sook!

I managed to ease my legs out from under him and he stayed put. He’d still be there now except for Ben yelling the magic word…

Breakfast!

In a flurry of fur young Rufous was at the back door, ready for the happiest part of the day – food.

So I’m late blogging today because of puppies, comfort and life.

Now for me a day of acupuncture and self-care, friends sitting around the fireplace writing with me over cups of tea, and cauldrons of soup on the stove. I’m still recovering from this wretched flu but I’m making progress back to being well thankfully. I’m sure puppy cuddles have helped immensely.

Wishing you a day of cosiness too! Much love, Nicole ❤ xoxo

No Blog Because…

“Daily dawns another day;
I must up, to make my way.
Though I dress and drink and eat,
Move my fingers and my feet,
Learn a little, here and there,
Weep and laugh and sweat and swear,
Hear a song, or watch a stage,
Leave some words upon a page,
Claim a foe, or hail a friend-
Bed awaits me at the end.” 
Dorothy Parker

I’d be writing a decent blog post this morning but for one important fact.

Ben had a missed call on his phone from last night. A transport company telling us that our new bed will be delivered at 7am this morning.

Which is awesome except that our old bed is in the spot where the new bed needs to go, and it has a mountain of stuff stored under it, it needs to be pulled apart and then everything vacuumed and the walls washed down. And we only have an hour.

Wish us luck.

Also…

NEW BED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

See you tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep.

Nicole  xx

It’s a Fairy Forest here at the farm!

“Few humans see fairies or hear their music, but many find fairy rings of dark grass, scattered with toadstools, left by their dancing feet.” 
Judy Allen

We’ve had a furious amount of rain here at the farm these past few weeks. Everything is damp and waterlogged, but green green green!

On my morning walk I marvelled at the fungi forest in our paddocks. Mushrooms of every shape and size.

The one in the picture above is the size of a dinner plate.

And these tiny delicate ones are covering the trunk of the fallen coral tree like lace.

Soon enough they’ll all be gone, so I am enjoying their magic while I can.

How about you? Can you slow down a little today, or over the weekend, and take yourself for a walk in nature? Who knows what you might find, what inspiration could come to you, or what you might learn about yourself and your feelings.

I can highly recommend walking. After our retreat I rushed straight into a busy week of medical appointments in the city and the stress of supporting family members. It was so good to come home yesterday and decompress by spending some quiet time in nature. Walking helped me come back to centre, release my stress and reprioritise what truly matters so that I don’t get caught up in external dramas. Maybe you will find that kind of peace too, if you walk long enough. If long walking’s impossible a short gentle stroll or even sitting outside in nature with a quiet and watchful eye can be enough.

Biggest hugs and love, Nicole ❤ xx

A miniature city of mushrooms

There’s almost nowhere to walk – with mushrooms everywhere under my feet

Perfect umbrellas for fairies!

Lace-like and delicate. For fairy dresses perhaps?

 

 

 

The Taste of Freedom

“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” 
Nelson Mandela

We always clip our dogs onto short leads on the back seat of the car when we travel. It keeps the dogs confined to their positions (otherwise they’d both be on our laps in the front) and also helps us control the behaviour of young Rufous who is only just one year old, and still a delinquent.

Yesterday we drove to Brisbane. Both Harry (our Cafe Dog) and Rufie were very quiet and well behaved.

Or so we thought.

Rufous spent the first part of the journey in what we call the Parrot Position. If he strains himself to the full extent of his lead he can rest his head on Ben’s left shoulder while Ben drives. It’s Rufie’s favourite position until he gets tired and goes back to lie down beside his brother and take a nap.

But Rufous wasn’t quiet when he lay down yesterday. He was busy.

First he chewed through his lead, nibbling neatly along the seam until it was severed.

Then he quietly chewed through Harry’s lead too.

 

One minute Ben and I were alone in the front of the car, discussing global warming and American politics and all the other stuff you talk about on road trips, and the next minute Rufous was madly licking my ear as he balanced on the compartments between the two front seats. Harry thought it was marvellous too, and managed to go back to sleep with most of his body squeezed between the two front seats and just his tail and back paws on the seat behind.

After a stern talking to they skulked back to their lair for the remainder of the journey, and then both of them pranced out of the car and in the front door, flaunting their freedom for all to see.

There will be no new escape. Ben bought wire cable yesterday – impossible to chew through.

Were your dogs chewers when they were pups? I wonder how long before Rufous grows through his chewing stage? Soon, I hope!

Hugs and love to all of you, from all of us!  Nicole xoxo

 

 

 

My Magical Magnolia Owl Tree

“Have you ever looked at the bud of a magnolia flower? It’s a tight little pod that stays closed up for a long time on the end of its branch until one day, out of nowhere, it finally bursts open into this gigantic, gorgeous, fragrant flower that’s ten times bigger than the bud itself. It’s impossible to imagine that such a big beautiful thing could pop out of that tiny little bud. But it does.” 
~  Joanna Gaines

We have a magnolia tree here at the farm that sits on a little mound of moss and soft grass in the back garden.

The tree is small, and right now it is covered in tiny furry buds that will open up to dinner-plate sized flowers that are so impossibly fragrant that I swoon for days over their beauty.

This magnolia is also a favourite night-time perch for owl visitors. I have never understood why they prefer this tree to others, except that the tree and the area around it have amazing energy and maybe the owls sense that too.

Right now I’m charging up a crystal grid under the magnolia. The stones have been there since January, soaking up the full moons and the lunar eclipse, the starlight and thunderstorms, the raging sun and the peaceful rain. They are almost buried in the soft thick grass now and scattered with leaves and fallen flowers.

Two more weeks and I’ll break the grid down, taking out some of the stones for the participants on my two retreats this year.

I know these stones will hold the energy of our farm, of the owls and the magpies and crows and fairy wrens and finches who have perched above or hopped through the stones too.

Our magnolia is also festooned with a harmonic wind-chime, and hand-crafted wooden owls and hearts – all gifts from dear and precious friends.

I’m feeling very peaceful this morning as I tend to the grid. I hope you can feel some of that peace too. Go gently today, and look after yourselves and each other,

All my love, Nicole  xx