Stubborn Determination

“He that can have patience can have what he will.” 
~ Benjamin Franklin

That’s Daisy Mae in the picture above. She’s the one staring cheekily at the camera from the right-hand side of the photo. She’s eyeballing me because she has been breaking into the house paddock and eating all my new vegetable seedlings and petunias.

But there’s another naughty cow in that photo. Do you see her? She’s standing behind Daisy Mae – look for the red cow with the pink ear tag. That’s Tilly.

Tilly has been sneaking into the house paddock too. But not by opening the gate. Tilly has slender legs and feet, and has found a way to walk through the cattle grid and into our yard.

After we locked Daisy Mae out we still kept finding mystifying evidence of cow break-ins but we couldn’t find the culprit. Until yesterday. As I looked up from washing the breakfast dishes there she was, staring back at me just a few feet on the other side of the window. Tilly got such a shock, and so did I. By the time I got outside she was in the process of delicately picking her way back over the grid to safety.

Twice more she got back in, waiting until she was sure we were in the house and then stealthily crossing into our garden.

After the third time we put rope across the driveway to keep her out.

And when we were making a late afternoon cup of tea there she was again. She’d wriggled underneath the rope on her belly!

Finally, late yesterday, Ben and I moved the cows down to the river paddock. It’s flush with feed and so there is no need for her to eat my garden anymore.

It’s hard to be cross with her though. What a strategic and determined girl she is as she goes after what she wants. Qualities I deeply admire.

Hugs and Love, Nicole xx

Standing Under Old Trees

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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

 

This morning, after a restless night, I slept late.

Instead of sitting in meditation, Harry Dog and I went for a long rambling walk.

We said hello to the cows.

We saw the old tree that cracked in half and fell over late last night.

We saw where the echidna has been digging, and where a new bush orchid has taken root, cradled in a hollow of a big old tree.

We walked and walked.

And when we came back to the house again we were happy.

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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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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!

When the Bully Becomes Bullied

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“Don’t turn your face away.
Once you’ve seen, you can no longer act like you don’t know.
Open your eyes to the truth. It’s all around you.
Don’t deny what the eyes to your soul have revealed to you.

Now that you know, you cannot feign ignorance.
Now that you’re aware of the problem, you cannot pretend you don’t care.
To be concerned is to be human.
To act is to care.”
~ Vashti Quiroz-Vega

 

Our farm is small and so our herd of cows is also small. At a previous organic farm we had hundreds of head of beef cattle. But here we have less than thirty animals. We know each one by name and nature.

And right now we have a problem.

There is a large red cow we call Snubby-Nose. She’s an older cow, and as she has become older she has become a bully. Herds of cattle have their own hierarchy, and we always leave them to sort out their own problems. Cows are peaceful by nature, and we usually have a tight-knit herd.

But for the last year, since we lost our old matriarch, Snubby-Nose has been badly behaved. The old matriarch was a cranky-as-hell, bossy old girl who kept everyone in line, bull included. Snubby-Nose never misbehaved while she was alive. But she has run amok ever since.

Snubby-Nose refuses to do nursery duty (where one cow looks after the young calves while the other mothers graze). She has penned in younger cows to keep them away from the bull. She has picked on small animals, or on those who are unwell or heavily in calf. She has been mean and bad-tempered. It made the herd flighty, and our young bull could not control her because she was bigger than him.

We had deliberated moving her on, but then the herd settled down again. So we thought all was well.

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A fortnight ago we noticed that Snubby-Nose was hanging back from the others when we fed out molasses (their favourite treat).

Then we saw that she was limping. We reasoned that the limp was keeping her from joining the herd as she stayed down on the river flats while the other animals came up to feed in the orchard on the hill behind our house.

When she didn’t rejoin the herd after two days we went looking for her. I thought we might have to call the vet. We drove our old farm ute down onto the most secluded part of the river flats and there we found her, grazing. She still had the limp, and she was wary of us. I began to think that perhaps we had a wild dog problem, because she was agitated and nervous.

Soon we heard a thundering of hooves. The rest of the herd had run down from the hill to follow us, in case we were handing out treats. They saw Snubby-Nose and all of them became noisy.

Then something happened that totally floored me. Our young bull and the three oldest cows attacked Snubby-Nose violently, moving her away from us. They pushed her right across the paddock with great force, until she stumbled and fell. While she was down the entire herd came over and all of the adults and larger calves knocked her with their heads. When she tried to get up they pushed her down again. So we jumped in the ute and drove away, drawing the herd with us and leaving Snubby-Nose down on the ground.

After locking the cattle in another paddock we went back. I was worried they might have killed her! She wasn’t badly hurt after all, but we are pretty sure about how she went lame.

The herd are tired of her aggression and bullying, and they have banded together to ostracise her. None of them could control her on their own. But together they could force her to submit.

On Wednesday a friend with a horse and some good dogs is coming over to help us yard her, and we are going to move Snubby-Nose on. I feel bad that she has been unable to find a place for herself here, but the herd has spoken and we can’t have this kind of behaviour in such a small group.

No society can endlessly submit to the behaviour of a tyrant.

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

 

Autumn Garden

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“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn–that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness–that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.”
~ Jane Austen

 

It’s a cool, damp morning here at the farm.

And oh so pretty!

Come walk with me, in my Autumn garden…

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Farm Life

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“The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.”
~ Joel Salatin, Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

 

If you look closely at the top photo you’ll see a new baby calf taking her very first steps, under the watchful eye of mum.

Here she is a few steps later, looking for her first drink of milk.

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It was a very busy day at the farm yesterday. A new calf at breakfast time. Lots of psychic work and writing in the heat of the day.

New garden beds ready for our autumn crops in the afternoon.

We’ve added three extra herb and vegetable beds, and put in a passionfruit trellis too.

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And then last night as I was making dinner, a big green tree-frog came to visit, landing on our kitchen window with a loud thump.

All in all, a lovely and very productive day.

Sending lots of love your way, Nicole xx

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An Afternoon with the Cows!

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“Cows are amongst the gentlest of breathing creatures; none show more passionate tenderness to their young when deprived of them; and, in short, I am not ashamed to profess a deep love for these quiet creatures.”   ~ Thomas de Quincey

 

Late yesterday afternoon, after I’d finally finished the last of my psychic readings for the day, we all piled into the old farm ute and drove down to the river flats to check the feed (for you city folk that means we went to see how much grass was left in the paddock). Pleasingly, the river paddock still holds plenty of grass, even though it has homed the mothers and their bubs all summer. It’s been a good season. Plenty of rain. Plenty of heat. The herd are fat and happy, and many of the cows are close to birthing our new drop of calves.

It was an absolute delight to sit on the ground while the dogs cavorted and ran backwards and forwards from the river, and to watch the herd quietly grazing. Cows are curious animals, and they all came over to say hello.

I love living here, being surrounded by nature and the calming qualities of our bovine friends.

And check Calvin the calf out. Isn’t he getting big? But still cute as a button!

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Meet Our Latest Edition – Calvin the Calf!

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“The apple does not fall far from the tree.” ~ Proverb

 

Here’s our cheeky heifer Daisy Mae with her young bull calf – her first ever baby! We’ve named him Calvin, after Joelle’s suggestion.

When Daisy Mae was a young ‘un she’d crawl under the fence, romp through my vegetable garden, and play with my dogs, Harry and Bert, as though she too were a mad pup. She developed quite a taste for my herbs and flowers, and I was forever chasing her out of the house yard.

Now her son is just the same. He’s only four days old, and already we’ve chased him out of the yard more than twenty times. Right now he’s still so little that he can easily wiggle under the fence wires. He never seems to mind that he’s in trouble. To him it’s one big game.

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He has been devouring my parsley and garlic chives, and is particularly partial to petunias. Naughty Calvin!

But he’s so cute we can’t stay mad at him long. 🙂

Our dogs just love it when Calvin comes to visit. Let’s just hope he doesn’t eat all of my herbs before he is too big to squeeze under the fence.

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An Afternoon Concert for My Cows

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“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!”
~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

 

The first time I heard Albinoni’s Oboe Concert #2 in D Minor I was seven, a little girl sitting in the music room of her primary school, eyes closed as instructed by the teacher who placed a record on a turntable. Suddenly magic was in the room.

Somehow I knew that music. I knew the sound of the oboe. I thrilled with recognition. The way the strings sang and danced their sweet rhythms up and down my skin. The reedy tone of the oboe with its jaunty clarion call. I wanted to dance, to slide and twirl along sprung wooden floors, toes pointed and skirts swaying. The pictures it brought to my imagination!

But I’m sure I’d never heard that music before. Not in this lifetime anyway.

After our class I determinedly stayed behind to ask the teacher what the strange and beautiful music was, and she obligingly wrote it down for me on a scrap of paper. Years later, as a young adult, it was one of the first music CDs I ever bought for myself.

Yesterday afternoon I played that same Albinoni concert again. I cranked up the stereo, and let the music seep deep inside me.

Shortly after the music began, the cows all looked up. Transfixed they came closer. Closer.

After which they settled themselves down and for the next hour we all sat together, quietly listening to a selection of Albinoni’s music.

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When it was over they all stood up again and wandered away.

What a magical sharing we had.

I never knew that my cows were fans of Albinoni too. 🙂

And I wonder – thinking back to my first encounter with the music of Albinoni which left me with tears streaming down my cheeks in a class full of seven-year-olds who were all otherwise fidgety, bored and bothered, – has that ever happened to you? That you’ve heard music, or eaten a particular dish or gone to a certain unfamiliar place and thrilled with recognition at a soul level when by rights this thing should be strange and unknown? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Here’s a little snippet of the music we enjoyed yesterday:

A happy dancing tune…

A reflective and deeply emotive piece…