The Wild Life!

Chillax and bubba

“Connecting with the wilderness allows us to live in the flow of a meaningful, joyful life. Embracing this state of connectedness or oneness with other living beings including animals, as opposed to feeling an “otherness” or “separateness” brings a sense of harmony and enables us to be at peace with oneself and the world.
~ Sylvia Dolson, Joy of Bears

 

We had a lovely lunch with our neighbours yesterday. The food was delicious, and the company was good too! 🙂

Conversation covered many areas, but ended on a delightful subject – wildlife.

We are privileged to live where we do – Possum Creek, in the Byron Bay hinterland. Both our neighbours and ourselves are committed to conservation, biodiversity and growing things organically. And we have come to know and love the many critters that share our space. Some of them we have even named, and their interactions with us have become a meaningful part of our lives.

A while ago, a young female possum whom our neighbours had been feeding, and who lived in a nesting box on their property, disappeared. They’d named her ‘Chillax’ because of the possum’s laid-back disposition.

She turned up a few months later in our machinery shed – a new mother, with a small baby. That’s her and her baby in the picture at the top of the page, and in the one below. She still lives in the shed, and her son is grown now. I’m sure there will be a new baby this spring.

possum

We also share a community of koalas who move between our two properties, and that are slowly breeding up and inviting more of their friends to come live in our cosy safe haven.

Koalas vege garden

The neighbours inquired yesterday whether we had any new brush turkeys on our farm. Brush Turkeys (also called scrub turkeys or bush turkeys) are an odd-looking Australia bird. The males build large mounds of leaves in which the females lay eggs. In small suburban gardens they are quite destructive, but on our farm there’s plenty of room, and we don’t mind at all when they begin constructing these huge nests.

Early this year, a new Brush Turkey did turn up, and began building a mound near the bunya pines along one of our fences. He is a very friendly turkey, and has no fear of us at all.

brush-turkey

Daisy Mae, one of our young calves, kept climbing up onto the top of the mound with Red Bull, another of our younger cattle. Their weight was squashing the mound as fast as the poor turkey could repair it.

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Eventually he gave up in disgust and moved to a new location to build his nest.

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Did he have one white claw, this brush turkey, our neighbours asked? Maybe it was the turkey who had previously lived near them. They’d been worried about him, wondering what may have become of him.

I have never paid much attention to turkey feet, so this week I’ll go spend some time hanging out near this turkey’s new nest, and take him some turkey-friendly snacks. Hopefully he’ll let me get close enough to see if he does indeed have a white claw.

Whether he does, or not, he’ll always be welcome here on our farm.

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Was it all a dream?

beach - wategos

“Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream.”~ Khalil Gibran

It’s 5am. I woke this morning in my own bed. The cool dawn air from the windows flung wide is fragranced with lemon blossom, jasmine, green grass and rich earth. It’s a lush smell. A rich smell. So dense I can almost hold it in my hands.

My little farmhouse looks exactly the same – homey and inviting. Outside the koalas are grunting in the stand of gumtrees near our bedroom window. Birds are tinkling and tweeting their sweet dawn songs. The possum who lives in our ceiling has just thumped home across the roof. He’s so noisy I swear he might have a wooden leg.

Jasminum-polyanthum

I have done some yoga stretches on my bright pink mat. I have meditated on a cushion at the feet of Ganesha on the side veranda, looking out over the dark, still paddocks. I’d forgotten how many trees we have.

Now, while I am waiting for Ben and the dogs to wake I will move the hose around the fruit trees and water my strawberries as streaky fingers of light begin to fill the sky.

The mulberry tree is groaning with fruit, and some of it is ripe. I am joyfully shuffling recipes in my head, wondering how best to use the first berries. Already I have crammed some of the luscious fruit into my mouth. I am a pirate looting her own bounty!

mulberries

There is a softness to the air. There’s moisture, and a hint of rain. Clouds are beginning to thicken in the sky. Mist is curling up from the river.

Misty morning

Soon I will find my swimmers. We’ll leave Bert at home to sleep ( he is exhausted from the adventure of staying with friends and playing with their young children) and Harry, Ben and I will go for an early dip in the ocean. I’ll wash off this Outback dust and reclaim the salty heart of my own country. Then Harry can play Cafe Dog while we eat a good breakfast, drink freshly made juice and savour a coffee.

Today is a day for settling back in. Collecting the mail. Buying food. Replenishing my lyme meds. Making kefir. Getting bloods done. Washing mountains of dirty clothes. I expect there will be naps. I’m so very tired. If I’m honest, I pushed myself on this trip. Sometimes I gritted my teeth, painted on a smile and reassured everyone I was fine when I was less than that. Or worse. And I knew before we even left that I would. But I’m not regretful. It was worth it.

The Outback seems so far away this morning.

But all night my dreams were filled with endless expanses of golden grass, wide blue skies, drovers, dust and history…

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An Afternoon Walk On My Farm

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“When I woke up I was changed.
The land had recognised me again.” 
~ George Djilaynga, Neil Murray, Warumpi Band

I’m home again, at my little farm at Possum Creek. Yesterday I went for a walk in the late afternoon sunshine.  The wind was rustling the branches, the giant wedgetail eagle flew above me, fat pigeons feasted on ripening berries, and black cockatoos sang to call in the rain.

I pulled on my purple gumboots, called to the dogs, grabbed my iphone to take a few snaps, and captured the energy of home with these shots. I hope you enjoy them…

 

 

The Magnolia, all twiggy digits, reaching for the sky. The light breeze loosens the few remaining leaves and they drift to the ground one by one. You can already see the silky green flower buds forming.

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Brilliant blue blooms and trailing jasmine.

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The stand of huge old Bunya Pines, full of pine-cones the size of cannonballs. It’s going to be a great harvest this year!

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Sweet clover, ankle deep through the paddocks.

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My ancient Meyer Lemon tree, groaning with fruit.

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Gate into the cattle yards, between two majestic Sydney Blue Gums.

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Wildness and streaming sunshine.

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The river, slowly flowing past the back boundary of the farm.

river

Hungry cows – nom, nom, nom.

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Purple gumboots and a barrowload of wood for the evening fire.

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Thanks for walking with me!  Bless ♥ xx

Rain is better than drought…

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I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.

~ From ‘My Country by Dorothea Mackellar

We endured eight hard years of drought at our old farm –  a cattle property in the Lockyer Valley. Slowly the grass turned brittle as straw and the dams dried up as we looked to the empty skies for rain. The cattle ate the grass down to nubs and we trucked in feed, and sold down stock.

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Water was rationed so carefully. A bucket of water for a shower, a quarter of a mug to clean your teeth. The grass powdered away to dust, and then the trees began to die.  The wildlife disappeared, and there were no insects left to bite us, no birds to wake us with their morning call.  Everything was drab, barren, baked brown and devoid of life.

All we talked about was the possibility or lack of rain, the cost of feed and who might still have some, and our great worry for neighbours and friends we knew who were doing it tough – financially or emotionally.  Anxiety, depression, suicide – they became regular visitors in our part of the world. Families broke apart, or walked off land held by generations before them.

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Big kangaroos moved in towards the coast from out west and ended up at our place, competing for what little food was left, and feral pigs rooted up our paddocks looking for roots and moisture.

It was miserable, and it nearly broke us.

dam

So we moved to Possum Creek in the Byron Bay hinterland; a farm tiny by comparison, but so much more fertile.

The locals call it a drought here if we go a month without rain. Right now, rain seems to be all we have.  We’ve been flooded in three times in the past few months, lost power, lost fences and one cow, and had multiple trees and branches down.  Many of my vegetables have rotted in the ground. We’ll be lucky to get a crop from the organic citrus orchard this year.

Luckily our old farm house was built nestled into the side of a hill, so the buildings won’t flood – we just have to put up with a little damp and mold.

Still, I’ll take rain over drought any day. My water tanks are overflowing, and I can enjoy long hot soaks in the bath every day.

When I walk out my door there is an abundance of fresh blooms for my table. Everything seems to be flowering. Green is a colour that is lush and easy on the eye.  There is no hardship in looking out over emerald fields.

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The cattle might have wet feet, and they huddle under trees as the rain belts down, but their bellies are full, and there is water enough for them to drink out of seasonal streams as well as the dams, creeks and river.

ducks on the dam

Everywhere I look there is something to appreciate. Glossy leaves, flowers, new life.

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The local wildlife are soggy, but well fed. During breaks in the rain they pop out to forage, hoping for a small patch of sun to dry themselves out. Then they scoot back under cover as the rain pours down again.

pademelonThe waterways are washed clean, silt is deposited on the flats to renew the soil, and replenishment is everywhere.

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This morning I’m sitting with a mug of tea cradled in my hands, listening to torrential rain on the roof and the mad croak of frogs, and watching the blur of micro-bats gobbling up all the mosquitoes on the side veranda. I’m wondering if it’s nearly time to go.

Lyme and my meds are giving me a twitchy right eye and a stabby, burny left eye, headaches, joint pain and my big fat heart is twinging a little too much for my liking. Not a great look for getting trapped on the wrong side of a wall of water.  The weather radar shows rain, rain and more rain today, and predicts the same for the rest of the week. At sun up Ben will go check the causeway and sad as it will make me, it looks like we’ll be heading back to the city.

Maybe I’ll go buy some new gumboots while I’m there.  When Bert was a puppy his needle-like teeth put pinholes all through my left gumboot.  It would be nice to have two warm dry feet instead of one warm dry foot and one cold soggy one!

gumboots

This gorgeous gumboot image by Julia Wright

We Has The Depression

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“Into each life some rain must fall.”
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Bert: Rain, rain, rain. I’m sick of all this rain. It’s horrible being stuck inside a house in the city.  Why can’t we go home to the farm? What if all my tennis balls float away? I can’t bear it. I has the Depression.

Harry: I’ll ask Mum.  Maybe it’s not raining any more. Maybe we can go home.

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Harry: Can we go yet?  Can we go home?  Can we? Can we? Is it still raining? My brother needs his farm.

Me: Maybe, but there’s more raining coming.  We might have to go home and get a few things, and then come back to the city again so we don’t get flooded in.

2013-02-26 11.56.57Harry: Oh no. I has the Depression too…