Crazy Wild Weather!

“Suddenly all the sky is hid
As with the shutting of a lid,
One by one great drops are falling
Doubtful and slow,
Down the pane they are crookedly crawling,
And the wind breathes low;
Slowly the circles widen on the river,
Widen and mingle, one and all;
Here and there the slenderer flowers shiver,
Struck by an icy rain-drop’s fall.”
~James Russell Lowell, “Summer Storm,” 1839

 

It’s been so droughty-dry and unseasonably hot here at the farm. There have been storms but all of them have gone past us, leaving us with light shows in the sky, heavy winds and only the smell of rain.

The grass has turned dry and crunchy under our feet. Great cracks have opened in the ground. The dam has a few scant inches of water left amid the waterlilies struggling to stay viable.

Those dry storms have kept us busy – interrupting our power supply again and again, downing trees, stopping our landline phone and internet from working.

Last night we finally attracted a storm that had everything – wind, hail, lightning, thunder and most importantly rain.

Our internet’s down again. We’ve got broken branches littered everywhere. The ground is a carpet of leaves thrown down by the elements. The air is cool and smells sweetly of earth and moisture. There’s lots of mess to clean up.

Me? I’m blogging in the car, on the way to coffee with Ben and Cafe Dog.

The last of the rain is moving through now, and then it should fine up to a bright hot day before more storms again this afternoon. But we know that this kind of unstable and disruptive weather pattern is here to stay. So we’ve made some big decisions.

We’re just finishing the last of a massive solar installation that will see us self-sufficient for power and with a diesel generator for back up just in case.

We’ve got new internet providers coming to the farm to fit us out for a better system instead of relying on ancient phone lines that stop working with any hint of moisture.

All these storms have forced us to rethink and adapt.

What big changes are you making in your life right now?

It’s time.

Rethink. Adapt. Get ready to do it differently for 2017.

The Tawny Family Shows Off Baby!

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“She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.”
~ Shel Silverstein

 

We have a family of Tawny Frogmouths that nest in the teak tree outside our kitchen window every year. They are nocturnal creatures, and seldom seen, so I always delight in having them in plain view.

During the day Tawny Frogmouths camouflage themselves by lifting their heads, staying very still, and trying to pretend that they are part of a branch.

After a big storm about a month ago they abandoned their nest, and in the unseasonal heat that followed the youngest fledgling baby was unable to make it back up to the tree where the family was roosting and took up a position in the shade of one of our machinery sheds, pretending to be part of a wheelbarrow. (Great info here on what to do if you find a fledgling Tawny out of the nest.)

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Very cute, don’t you think? We kept an eye on her, and Mum and Dad came down to feed her each night until she was ready to fly back to a higher position.

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After another big storm here at the farm (that knocked out our power and internet for almost a day) we went for a walk and found Mum, Dad and the eldest baby perched on fence posts in the deep shade of the coolest corner of the house paddock. The oldest fledgling was up above, in one of the trees and I couldn’t get a good picture of them!

The baby has gone from a little white ball of fluff to something that very closely resembles her adult plumage colours. She’s still adorably fluffy though, and I keep finding her soft downy feathers on the ground, which I’m keeping to make another talisman.

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Mum looks so cross with me for getting close, and I still kept my distance so as not to frighten them. That expression in her eye! They are a fine family, don’t you think?

Apologies that the pictures are not especially crisp. They are taken on my iPhone from a distance, and my dodgy eyes are still not all that crisp themselves, making photography a little more of a challenge than usual. Still, I am making great progress with restoring my vision, and I’m hopeful that my sight will continue to improve.

Sending hugs, love and a cuppa your way, Nicole ❤ xoxo

(PS – in case you’re not sure, a cuppa is a good cup of tea!)

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Grounded Goodness

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“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
~ Rachel Carson

 

Yesterday was one of those days when my body just wasn’t cooperating.

At first it got me down. I had so many things to do, and I couldn’t see well enough to do any of them!

Ben came to the rescue and suggested what I needed was a walk and then a nap. He was right.

So, here, in pictures is my walk around the farm, and then the beginnings of fruit salad for dinner.

The bird is a tawny frogmouth fledgling who took shelter on the wheelbarrow in one of our sheds. Cute, hey?

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Five Things I Love About Being Home At My Farm

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“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life.”
~ John Burroughs

 

I have loved travelling, but there is something magical about coming home again.

These are five random things I love about being home here at my farm.

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1. I can go out into the garden on a cold and drizzling night, wearing my gumboots and pyjamas and clutching a torch, and come back in with enough foraged weeds, greens and leaves to make a tasty salad for dinner to go with our soup.

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2. No matter how busy my day becomes, there is always time for games and for sitting on the soft green grass, looking out at the trees and watching the koalas.

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3. The air here smells of sunshine and trees, or moon and stars and damp earth. The sky at dawn or dusk is filled with birdsong and a vibrancy that is hard to put into words.

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4. The beach is just down the road, and we can enjoy an early-morning walk, followed by breakfast at one of our favourite cafes. Byron Bay has some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet!

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5. All my favourite crystals are here at home. No matter what my mood I have a crystal to suit. There are crystals on every windowsill, and perched all around. There are crystals in the garden and beside my bed. Lovely, lovely stones. ❤

Snubby-Nose 1 : Mustering Team 0

Snubby-Nose, goodbye! We hope you find a better home on someone else's farm.

Snubby-Nose, the farm’s biggest bully!

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”
~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

 

I was hoping to be the bearer of good news this morning.

I was planning to tell you that Snubby-Nose, the bossy bully cow I wrote about a few days ago, is now happily ensconced in a new home on someone else’s farm. There was no way we could let her stay here after the rest of the herd rejected her and began ganging up on her to stop her bullying ways.

Yesterday all we needed to do was push her up the hill from the river flats and into the cattle yards. This usually involves us walking the paddock with the cattle (or animal) and pushing them (we don’t actually ‘push’, that’s just a cattlework term – we use our body proximity to motivate the cattle to walk forward by standing slightly behind or to the flank of them) in the direction we need them to go, using a dog if they need a little encouragement to move in a particular direction. I knew it was too much ground for Ben and Harry-dog and I to cover if the cow picked up speed, so Ben called up a mate with trained dogs and a good horse. We’ve worked together before and always had good results.

It should have been a simple operation to get Snubby-Nose up to the yards and onto a truck.

I should have remembered that things that appear simple rarely are…

Snubby-Nose didn’t want to co-operate. She charged off into bushes and down ravines where the men and horse couldn’t follow.

She outwitted the dogs, and hurled them around like soft toys. (No-one was hurt, but it did get a bit dramatic.)

Finally she retreated to the deepest part of the river, forcing the horse and dogs to swim around her until everyone was exhausted.

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Here she looks more like a cranky crocodile (and truly she was channeling that kind of evil vibe!) The dark stain in the water is the mud she is churning up as she swims. There was a deep hole there into which she was trying to lure the horse.
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We gave up.

She won.

At last glance Snubby-Nose was back on the river flats, munching contentedly. This cow has no immediate plans for being moved on. Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn girl.

We’ll give ourselves a rest and have a rethink.Then it will be on for Round Two.

I’m thinking more horses, motorbikes, a cunning vet with a tranquiliser gun and a helicopter to airlift Queen Snubby-Nose to anywhere else.

Farm life. Ah, the tranquility!

Chop Wood, Carry Water, then Surf the Net!

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“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” ~ Zen Buddhism quote

“When hungry, eat your rice; when tired close your eyes. Fools may laugh at me, but wise men will know what I mean.” ~ Zen Buddhism quote

 

It has been a frustrating week.

Due to a faulty landline I’ve had no phone or internet connection at the farm, unless I hiked up the hill behind the house with my iPhone.

At first I was angry. It’s a situation that has been dragging on for almost three years, with our landline slowly deteriorating until every phone call became a lesson in frustration due to static and poor line quality. (And our internet runs off this line too!) The telco kept sending technicians, and the phone would work a little better for a while, and then decline again. Until finally it broke altogether.

This week while they worked on our line I wondered what I would do. No amount of wishing was going to give me an ability to be online.

So in the end I drew on the wisdom of my favourite Zen quotes.

I rested.

I did laundry and actually folded it and put it away.

I planted things and tended my garden.

I tidied.

I wrote. So many words.

We did yard jobs. We chopped wood, and carried water to the plants where the hose doesn’t reach.

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Life became so much simpler when I stopped struggling against the things I couldn’t change and chose to be in the moment instead.

It was peaceful.

There was also something freeing about being so much less available, once I let go of the stress of no longer being in control.

But now the line is fixed. I am reconnected with the world. My internet is fast and my phone line is clear. So exciting!!!

And we have enough wood cut and stacked to see us through the winter.

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Watching The Afternoon Fade to Grey

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“On this road
where nobody else travels
autumn nightfall.”
~ Matsuo Bashō

 

Late yesterday afternoon I wandered through the back garden, and then up the hill toward the old orchard behind our house.

My word for the year is ‘home’ and I truly allowed myself to feel into that space yesterday.

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Close to the house a basil plant has self-seeded from last year’s bumper crop. It has flourished with neglect while I have been away and then unwell. It made me so happy to see its broad soft leaves and vigorous growth.

The guava is laden too, and perfumes the air with a heady fragrance that reminds me somehow of passionfruit. I’m looking forward to making some jam and perhaps a chutney with the fruit. I ate one straight off the tree, warmed by the sun and perfect. It was a luxury for the senses.

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The sky turned from bright blue to pale, degree by degree.

The air cooled.

Birds called to one another and sang their evening songs.

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Harry and Bert, exhausted from their mad games and running around, sat on the freshly mown lawn waiting to accompany me back to the house.

They were both so happy to have played and to have kept me company. Nurse Bert seems pleased that I am finally out of bed and well enough to venture out again, although he has been incredibly patient with me.

He couldn’t wipe the goofy smile off his face!

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And so the night slid softly across the sky, the sun set behind the hills, and the first stars winked out.

I filled myself up on it all, and it was good.

What a magical place to call home!

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