The Fairy and the Bandicoot

“Sensitive people care when the world doesn’t because we understand waiting to be rescued and no one shows up. We have rescued ourselves, so many times that we have become self taught in the art of compassion for those forgotten.” 
~ Shannon L. Alder


I planned to sleep in a little this morning. After my four am meditation I crept back under the covers and nestled in, intending at least another two hours sleep.

I woke suddenly. Hurry up, she’s DROWNING! yelled a little voice in my ear. Sokli, my fairy friend, was insistent.

Disoriented and a little confused I got out of bed. I’d been asleep for twenty minutes. Everyone else was sleeping still on this cool, grey Saturday morning.

Come on, come ON! urged Sokli.

The next minute I was hurrying up to our swimming pool, which is in the middle of the paddock that is our farm’s back yard. I opened the gate and let myself in and there she was, swimming feebly around the edge of the pool. A bandicoot.

I used the net to scoop her out, and then placed her gently on the grass. She shook herself like a dog, tiny beads of water flying everywhere, and then she pressed her nose to my bare foot as if it say thank you, and darted off under the fence.

Sokli often wakes me up to help an animal, or a person we know who’s in trouble. She’s become a dear friend and companion and we work well together as a team. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that as an adult I would be talking to a fairy, or that I would channel her wisdoms to share with my students and workshop groups. I never thought it possible that fairies existed until I met her. I mean, really, I’m psychic, I talk to fairies, I have Lyme disease – as my sister often points out, none of these things exist. Not in Australia, anyway (especially the Lyme disease bit!).

Still, the bandicoot is safe and now I’m wide awake. I’ll make a cup of tea and go sit on the verandah for a while til everyone wakes up. It brings to mind one of my favourite quotes from Alice in Wonderland.

Wishing you the strength to believe in impossible things too,
lots of love, Nicole ❤ xx

The Sweet Smell of Night


“‎Pleasure is wild and sweet. She likes purple flowers. She loves the sun and the wind and the night sky. She carries a silver bowl full of liquid moonlight. She has a cat named Midnight with stars on his paws. Many people mistrust Pleasure, and even more misunderstand her. For a long time I could barely stand to be in …the same room with her…” 
~ J. Ruth Gendler

I couldn’t sleep last night.

It was hot, and I was feverish. I tossed and turned for a while and then left my bed and crept outside to the back verandah.

The house was silent, and the night was deep. There was barely a hint of cool, and not a lick of moisture to be had. But that night air was sweet with the smell of summer grasses and the calm exhalations of the forest and mountain behind us.

A high overcast blanketed the stars so all there was was the darkness, me and the quiet shrill and hum of the night creatures. Eventually, even they fell silent and then the night belonged to me.

Queen of the Night by Josephine Wall

I breathed the earth in until my body grew so still and peaceful that nothing mattered anymore. I was cradled by the night, and by the earth, and by the silence.

And then I returned to bed and slept deeply until first light.

This morning I will walk along the beach with my feet in the water and my shoulders in the sun before the heat of the day scorches everything with her hot breath.

It doesn’t matter. I still have the night and her sweet comfort in every cell of my body and I am still at peace.

Wishing for you some time in nature this weekend too,

All my love, Nicole ❤ xx

Doorway to the Stars by Josephine Wall

On Hot Days Add Water!


“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.” 
~
Laura Gilpin

There’s a heatwave moving slowly across Australia this week.

That means you’ll find us near the water. River, ocean, swimming pool. Any and all of them.

All our birdbaths are full, and we’ve added extra saucers and bowls of water on the ground for all of the critters who will be affected too.

If you’re in affected part of Australia please remember to stay hydrated, to keep your pets cool and hydrated, and to check on elderly family members. Heat waves kill more people that storms and floods, and they do it silently.

Much love to you, Nicole ❤ xx

I was going to write something else…


“Good stories are like those noble wild animals that make their home in hidden spots, and you must often settle down at the entrance of the caves and woods and lie in wait for them a long time.” 

~ Hermann Hesse

This morning started as it always did. I meditated at 4am, and then rose with the first rays of streaky dawn to come sit and my desk and write a blog post.

But as I sat here at my desk with its view of the distant front paddock, our little home cradled by a circle of old trees whose leaves hang in fringes around every window, I became lost in the story of the morning.

Up in an ancient tree sat a powerful owl. He spotted me at my desk and nodded sleepily, before blinking his eyes shut again.

Over the parched grass under the teak tree Cedric the massive carpet python who usually lives in our roof came home from his nightly hunt. He wound himself up the teak and into the branchest closest to the house, which dipped and swayed under his weight. Then he slid across the frangipani and I watched as he disappeared from sight. A few minutes later I heard the rustle and thump as he settled in the roof above me.

Zebidee, the little water dragon, came and settled himself on the edge of the large ceramic pot we use as a bird bath. Can you see him here in one of our other pots, hiding among the leaves?

Bruce the baby Scrub Turkey ran dementedly in circles in the far corner of the yard before running into the tangle of leaves and long grass under the Bunya Pines. I was grateful to see him and know he was still alive. He’s starting to get wing feathers now. We’ve also seen one of his siblings recently too.

The Lewin’s Honeyeaters have been bathing in the water bowl I keep for them on the front verandah and have almost splashed it dry. So now I will go make a mug of tea and grab the garden hose and stroll around the garden, refilling the bird baths and watering my potted herbs and flowers before the heat of the day comes.

So, I intended to write something else, but I got lost in the world outside my window.

I hope you find some ordinary wonders and some time for yourself today too,

All my love, Nicole ❤ xx

Holiday At the Farm!


“There is more to life than making a living. Do not work more than you live.” ~ Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Hello, Lovelies!

Right now we have a friend and her little girls vacationing with us here at the farm. Each day the girls have farm chores to do – watering the gardens and fruit trees (it is very dry here right now), feeding the goldfish in the big ceramic pot that sits by the front door, and feeding some hay to the cows and all the new little calves. It’s a late calving season this year, and we’ve had three new calves in the past week and another few will probably arrive soon too!

Amidst all the farm work there has also been time for breakfasts at our favourite Byron Bay cafe, swims in the pool, outings to the bookshop, cooking lessons in my little farmhouse kitchen, time for reading and for colouring in our January Mandalas.

I’ve still been working, sneaking off into my office to write blogs, work on our retreats and courses and to do readings for clients. But work has that relaxed holiday feel to it, and it has been a pleasure to sit down at my desk every day to write and craft our projects for the year ahead.

Yesterday was particularly exciting. We decided that dinner would be a cocktail party on the verandah. No special reason – just because we could.

It was compulsory to wear a flower in our hair, and we all put on some party clothes. Ben chose a great selection of music, and then we sat outside and snacked and talked and laughed the night away. We also had a great box of cards that we took turns choosing, that prompted us to share something we were proud of, grateful for, favourite songs, achievements. That part was probably the highlight of my day!

I made non-alcoholic mango cocktails for the girls, and we adults shared glasses of Prosecco with preserved hibiscus flowers in the bottom of each glass for a fancy party effect.

Our food included fresh local oysters and prawns (shrimp), and a selection of cheeses and dips, crackers, olives, cold meats, fruits and snacks. Delicious. And of course a few morsels seemed to slip off those platters and into our dogs’ tummies. Although I can’t see how that happened!

What can be better in life than creating new shared memories with friends?

Today? More Planner time for me, a little writing time and cooking lessons: foundation biscuit mixture and variations, and later we’ll make tacos for dinner.

I’m wishing you a year of balance, connection, fun and meaningful work too.

Much love, Nicole ❤ xx

Help Can Come From Anywhere


“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.” 
~
 Charles de Lint

The other morning, as the house slumbered on, I quietly closed the kitchen door behind me and walked up to the pool which sits in the big open back paddock behind our farmhouse.

My plan was to go for a sunrise swim and enjoy some quiet time on my own after my morning meditation.

I thought I’d be alone. But when I entered the pool enclosure I found a small wet bird miserably balanced on the floating hose of our creepy crawly pool cleaner. He was shaking and looked barely conscious. I eased myself into the water so that no ripples would knock him off his precarious perch and made my way to him. He gave no protest as I scooped him up. The little bird was just a fledgling, a ball of downy fluff and wings not yet formed.

I took him back to the house and warmed him against my body, and then placed him in a covered cardboard box that was dark and warm. Then I called WIRES – the Australian wildlife rescue network – and we worked together to make sure that this little bird would survive and be safe.

Our little visitor is an Australian Brush Turkey fledgling. They are also known as Bush Turkeys or Scrub Turkeys, and they grow to quite a size. Mum and Dad turkey build a huge mound of leaves as a nest and spend much time incubating and protecting the eggs. But once they hatch the tiny birds are on their own. And this little fella had experienced a very rough night and was exhausted from his ordeal.

After a little care he perked right up by day’s end, so I released him back close to where I found him.

I wondered what would become of him, and if he would be okay.

The very next afternoon he ran straight through the kitchen door and then eluded capture for the next twenty minutes. After sipping water from the dog bowl he ran back outside again.

We named him Bruce.

Bruce came back twice more that day and we found him asleep – burrowed into some old teatowels in the laundry basket on the back verandah at day’s end.

He’s now become a regular sight, darting about our yard or in and out of the house as he sees fit. Our dogs watch him with curiosity but ignore him. He’s just passing traffic to them, like the many lizards, birds, possums, bandicoots, wallabies, koalas, cows and occasional peacocks that visit our space.

And one day he’ll grow big and look like this! (See pic below)

Male Brush Turkey showing naked red head skin and yellow neck wattle which is in loose stage, Pearl Beach, Central Coast, New South Wales

Bruce could not have known I would show up that morning to rescue him. If I’d been five minutes later the automatic timer on the creepy crawly would have kicked in and Bruce would have drowned.

Life’s like that sometimes. Help comes right at the last moment.

So the next time you feel like Bruce and there’s nothing more you can do to save yourself, hang on. Life often has a funny way of lending a hand when you least expect it.

Much love to you, Nicole ❤ xx

PS – here’s a cool little 3-minute documentary to show you what Bruce will look like as he grows up!

Short and Sweet Update!

That’s going to be me too – lying around at the farm!


“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” 
~ L.M. Montgomery

After far too long in the city I’m heading home this morning.

Home to our farm in the Byron Hills.

Home to greenery and fresh air and quiet nights and mornings filled with birdsong.

Home to music and writing and journalling and playing with my new YOM 2019 Planner.

Home to baking and swimming and digging in the garden and walking on the beach.

Home to farmers markets and my favourite cafes.

I can’t honestly tell you how that makes me feel. There isn’t an adequate word for what home feels like. It’s happiness and a giant hug and freedom and comfort all rolled into one.

I hope you can find a little of that feeling for yourself today or sometime soon,

All my love, Nicole ❤ xx

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