Ever since I was a little girl I’ve adored animals. I preferred stuffed, fluffy and cuddly animals to dolls with their jaggy fingers or rigid legs. I was the kind of girl who kept caterpillars and all sorts of beasties in a heart-shaped dish on my window sill. I thought if they knew they were being cared for in a heart-shaped dish they would know how much I loved them. That all ended when I came home from school one day to find my mother had ‘relocated’ the wee beasties. I often think it strange that I never embarked on a career with animals. There’s been many a day on a publishing deadline when I’ve thought how wonderful it would be to be outdoors in nature, roaming some wild terrain amongst the Silver Brumbies I used to read about. I think perhaps my life wasn’t really stable enough and I didn’t have the support structure to enter into that extra commitment in my younger years which is probably why today felt extra special. Today I made good on a promise I made to myself when we moved onto this property. I completed my training as a volunteer for WIRES.

WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.) is Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organisation. If you would like to learn more about WIRES please visit their website by clicking this live link. Alternatively, stay tuned to Lorikeet Lane where I am sure I will regale you with endless animal-related stories in the near future.

The training itself wasn’t a stroll in the park by any means. I didn’t grow up in Australia so I feel I have to work extra hard sometimes to understand a bird or animal that others may have grown up knowing all about. There was an online component to the Rescue and Immediate Care course – which took about 8 hours. This had to be completed and passed before the physical one-day workshop and assessment. The number of physical workshops had been reduced because of COVID restrictions so WIRES had also put together an online version of their physical workshops and assignments in case they had to drop a workshop at any given time.

‘Just for fun’, I opted to do the online version of the practical workshop and boy it was intense. I had read somewhere you had to get 100% for a pass so I studied and put a lot into my answers to ensure the pass rate (the pass rate was actually 75% and above – oh well – I excelled – lol). It took about 10 days to complete (working for 2-4 hours at a time). So I actually passed all of these before I went along to the physical workshop that came up for my area. I have to say I’m glad I did the online version because, in all honesty, that’s what’s given me the confidence of knowing the information. The physical workshop/assessment session only picked one or two scenarios each for us to work on – whereas I covered a whole range of scenarios online in detail.

For any of you interested in training in the future, the course covers work health & safety, species identification, common rescue scenarios, safe handling techniques, first aid, physical examination, and immediate care for mammals, birds, birds of prey, reptiles & amphibians, flying foxes and microbats (aww so cute).

I am beyond excited that I will finally be able to offer some assistance to native animals in need – once I receive my ID badge and WIRES vest. Look out for proud photos coming soon. In the meantime, I am building up my Rescue kits so I am ready when that call comes in.

The King

One of the ‘many’ amazing things about our patch of land is that we seem to be within our very own micro-climate.  As you walk the trail behind the property you find yourself in rainforest vegetation which attracts some of the more exotic wildlife and birds. One of our most frequent visitors, that happen to like this rainforest vegetation,  is the King Parrot. The male King Parrot is striking with his brilliant redhead and cheeky expressive nature.  The first time we ‘met’ the King Parrot was when we first came to look at the property. He literally escorted us up the long sweeping driveway as if to say  “look this is where I hang out. Isn’t it fantastic?”

Once we actually moved in his visits became quite frequent and it wasn’t long before he was keeping his own stash of ‘special blend’ Parrot Food in a jar on our back deck. He got so cheeky that he would come round and start pecking at the jar – no doubt hoping to access his seeds somehow. One day he managed to knock the jar over and well you can imagine after the initial fright – the joy of hitting the jackpot! Suffice to say that was the last of his stash being kept outdoors.

Nowadays The King brings his family and friends to visit. He (and his brood) are pretty healthy – no sign of any of the diseases that can befall Australia’s beautiful parrots but we do have to be mindful not to feed them on an ongoing basis.  They need to forage for food and teach their young to feed naturally if they are going to thrive and be healthy independent adults.

Sometimes I will overhear a huge conversation going on – a back and forth of chirps and happy ‘chatter’. It’s quite special to see this cheeky redhead sidling up to Fergie.  She is perfectly calm as he sits beside her and has a good old chat.

Snakey snakey on your back

I’m not sure if this is a Universal game, but did you ever play snakey snakey on your back – which finger did that?  I remember as children we used this game to define what number the other person was going to count to in ‘Hide and Seek’.  In case you missed out on the hilarity -you had to draw a snake shape on your friends back – and then pick a finger to jab them with – saying “which finger did that?”. When your friend turned around you would hold out your hand so they could pick the offending, jabbing finger. With every finger they got wrong, you had to add100.  Guessing which finger had been used was dependant on your friend being honest otherwise what would be the point right? Otherwise, you’d just call it a straight 1000.

I’m reminded of this because guessing which snake a snakeskin has come from has become an equally fun persuit around these parts.

There was a full moon on Halloween this year, so I deemed it auspicious to find an intact snakeskin in the garage in the middle of the floor. Question is where was the snake now? And what kind of snake was it?

A few months back we had found a golden crowned snake coiled up in front of the garage door. They are nocturnal and are only mildly venomous so I was more than happy to let it be. It was the location of spotting this snake previously that made me think the snake skin came from a Golden Crown, but at over a metre long it was pointed out to me the skin was too long to be a Golden Crown. Perhaps a python?

Whichever snake it came from, I am in awe of nature. Its capacity for rebirth and transformation is a timely reminder of the cycles we all live through. 

The Old Gum Tree and the Ironbark

I was feeling very out of sorts today – precipitated by a Migraine attack that forced me to ‘STOP’ and rest.

Away from my glaring computer screen, lying down, I began to tune in to my body so I could observe how it felt. I mean ‘really’ felt. How often do any of us do that? Really check in with how we are feeling. As I scanned, weighed, held and shifted through the vibrations within, I couldn’t deny the unmistakable feeling of grief. It was clasped around my throat, fluttering in my solar plexus and twisting in my stomach.

Grief? But where had it come from? Why had it settled within, like a skulking, wounded animal, or a squatter stealing the joy from someone else’s home?

I felt compelled to walk the talk. To do as I have so often advised others on a road to healing. Write without form. Write without thinking.

Perhaps, if you’re able, you can follow seemingly unconnected words like breadcrumbs into the darkness. There’s always a chance you’ll flush the real emotion, thought or feeling out into the daylight, to be examined, to be acknowledged for what it truly is. For me, it’s a rogue energy that’s stolen my joy, leaving me bereft. Such is grief.

These last few months have been stressful in one way or another – on an emotional level at least.  We’re all suffering as a result of this COVID situation. Here on Lorikeet Lane, we have counted our blessings. And then counted them again. We are luckier than most and we know it.

But like anyone, we still feel sad that much anticipated and longed for plans have fallen apart. We feel the loss. Simple hugs and time spent with loved ones become ‘treasured memories’ to reflect on in our relative isolation.

As I say, we are luckier than most. We are the custodians of endless space under a benevolent blue sky.

I open the veranda doors to allow the cool Southerly breeze to flow through the house. As I lay on the couch, I feel refreshed by the chill settling on my brow. From where I lie, I have a view of the Old Gum Tree.

Her branches are reaching out to me across the deck, like a mother’s hand extended, patting down an infant in a pram. Her elongated leaves bristle in the wind, and yet I sense her busyness is accompanied by a melancholy. All at once, I feel the grief wash over me again.

I ‘feel’ the Old Gum Tree speak to me. Since moving to this property, I have often ‘communicated’ with the Spirit that envelops us here. As soon as we first arrived on this spot it called to me. I didn’t care what the house was like – I just knew I needed to be on this land.

I started my own journey of healing here – helped by the outstretched leaves the smell of Earth – and the unique, coded downloads of light I absorb on a daily basis.

I promise myself I will just write whatever comes. I am familiar with that feeling of being unable to keep up with the words as they flow – I am familiar with the illegible scrawl that blurts from my pen– the words that demand to be written so they may be exorcised along with the emotion they carry.

Grief. Could it be I am feeling grief for the two trees that have to be cut down on our property? Both are less than 10 metres from the house.

They stand proud like ancient Elders on this land, front and back, scanning, surveying the ridge – still with an instilled sense of purpose and responsibility – while simultaneously nodding down on the life that plays below.

One is sick and dying. She is the old Ironbark behind our house. The crimson red resin that bleeds from cracks in her blackened, wrinkled bark, hardens and twinkles like a Ruby, jewelled in the sunlight. In the twilight the resin takes on a candied appearance – though either way – beautiful, remarkable in her resilient substance.

She is arched and frail and has been quite stubbornly stoic in the face of her back-breaking pain.  She stands as patiently as a loyal dog, waiting for the command that allows her to lie down and rest awhile.  Though she may feel a blessed relief to be released from her post, I feel sad for her just the same. She is a part of our landscape. Indeed, she was here casting her gaze over the ridge long before the foundations of our home. Long before we set foot on this property. There is an energy of the Great Mother about her. She belongs here. And yet. She is precarious in the way she bends towards the roof at the back of our house – stooping, swaying. 

Though she is sick, she still provides shelter and a sense of home. She’s given me moments of wisdom and healing. I can see the stories of her past etched upon her and she reminds me of the times I used to sit with my grandmother at the kitchen table. Just talking and spending ordinary, precious time together.

Her outstretched, weary branches still provide protection and shade for the young raucous hens below, or a bow for the courting Australian Wood Ducks to jostle and woo, before bonding for life. The dear old Ironbark protects life from the eagle eyes that circle above but will just as willingly offer a rest stop for that same Eagle, providing a vantage point to survey the menu in an adjoining paddock. But the sad reality is, for all her willingness to nurture, she is a danger to herself – and to those she protects. We had knowingly put off the day when we would have to make some tough decisions about her future.  

With love comes huge and sometimes achingly painful responsibility.

The other tree – the one my eyes rest on now – the one that’s reaching over to me with a concerned presence – is the one that pains me the most. This tree’s impending demise feels more callous, more brutal because, though she is weary, she still participates fully in her life on the property. Enveloping. Protecting. She is resolute and proud.

The Old Gum Tree has already adapted to adversity more than once – her twin trunk now being her weakness rather than her strength. The split happened early on life. The left trunk bears left to overhang the front of our house while the right stretches skyward, backward, swaying with an unpredictable abandon, flailing in the wind.

The most striking feature of the left-hand trunk is a strong, horizontal bare branch. It juts out at right angles creating the perfect perch for the three Kookaburras that take turns to outlaugh each other as the sun dips below the ridge. It’s the perfect presentation platform for the Butcher Bird when she boastfully introduces her new clutch of chicks to us. It’s the place of respite for the exhausted Magpies who send their over-sized young to say hello to us while they take a much-needed rest from the incessant demands for food. So much life comes to sit on that branch, and we have a unique and privileged vantage point being so elevated ourselves. Here we reside amongst the Cockatoos and King Parrots under the benevolent, blue sky. Alas, fire season approaches.

I don’t understand the tears below the surface. The grief that’s demanding to be acknowledged.

I feel somehow, I am betraying what I promised to protect.   

After the unconditional support and shelter they have provided – I am to be responsible for cutting them down. I will preside over their fate.  I feel they know on some level – perhaps through their interconnected root system or through osmosis – but they know these are the last days they will see the sun set over the ridge.

As I continue to write – encouraging the emotion to surface – without thought – without judgment. My thoughts take a surprising turn and I find my inner viewfinder resting on Peter’s parents.

I met Peter’s mum (my mother-in-law) the very same year I lost my own mother.

I was welcomed as though I had been long ago lost to them, and now returned.

A memory of Peter and I announcing our engagement surfaces. Like branches, his mum extends her loving arms out to me, and as I stand there, eyes shining, she cups her hands around my face. She draws me in, holds me in a space of tenderness and love. I allow her to pour this love into me, knowing I have been unable to ‘allow’ before. In that moment she voluntarily steps forward to help me heal my own deep and aching mother wound. Peter’s father and I need no words – osmosis. A knowing. But love vibrates at its own frequency. It does not need to be uttered, It is felt.

The engagement. A bonding moment, rippling like rings in a tree, encircling Peter and myself.  I feel an acceptance I have rarely experienced in my life. A healing. It reminds me of the pure unconditional love I feel as the Ascended Masters, Elders and Guides step forward in my little studio. The connection, the belonging and the healing this land has poured into me. Whispering its secrets …

Then suddenly the tears blurt along with the words …

These last few months have been stressful in one way or another – on an emotional level at least … you see we’ve had to make some tough decisions lately … for The Gum Tree and the Old Ironbark …


Daisy – you drive me crazy

Daisy is the White Cross. She is a Leghorn/New Hampshire and she produces beautiful white eggs. 

Right from the start, I noticed Daisy was the – shall we say – ‘special one’.  She was the last one to venture from her cardboard box when we opened them up in their run. Instead, she sat there making disgruntled clucking noises. She had decided the cardboard box was fine for her. 

She is also the one that refuses point blank to go in her run at night.  The only thing that may lure her in is the promise of mealworms – but there’s only so many trips I can make to CRT before they think I’m some sort of addict.

She will stand there watching her gang wander up to the run, ready for their evening feed and drink, before settling down in their cosy coop. They chat away to themselves and seem happy their day is done. But Daisy follows them for a bit – and right at the last gasp, just before the threshold she stops and thinks “Fu*$ that. I’m off.” 

What then ensues is half an hour of me gently coaxing, talking sweetly, or trying to lure her with blueberries  in stooped back-breaking fashion. She is not interested in my pathetic begging or my blueberries and runs in the opposite direction! Some nights I have to confess I get so irritated with her I walk off. “OK see how you survive out there on your own through the night – see if I care.” 

The trouble is I do care – so after 15 minutes I’m thinking about predators and I’m back out there doing the same routine. There are some occasions where she will surrender and squat down so I can pick her up – but generally, it’s bribery that gets her back in the run with the others. 

All the other girls work around Angus quite happily. Millie and Maisie are not the least bit bothered by Angus. They will walk beside him, duck under him or huddle with him around the watering bowl -quite happy. Maggie-May takes that to another level and actually seeks Angus out to play with or eat with. But Daisy just has to see Angus and she gets herself in a frenzy. waargh … waargh… help…. help …. waargh … waargh!  The thing is Angus literally stands and waits for the girls to walk ahead of him. He has somehow learned just to wait his turn and no-one gets flapped in the face. No I’m afraid Daisy is like that annoying little brother that cries, ‘mwah she looked at me the wrong way’.

It’s my own fault of course.  I had read that Leghorns were a bit scatty and easily freaked out. In actual fact, Leghorns and Leghorn Crosses don’t make the best ‘pets’ – but I wanted to ‘experience’ what they were like for myself which is why I only wanted one. I was possibly swayed by the fact Leghorns originate from Italy – Tuscany in fact – and well – I am a sucker for Italians and have a special place in my heart for Tuscany.

If I were to describe Daisy’s personality I would say she is as stubborn as a mule – deliberately dense – or perhaps she is just a bit up herself (I’m just not sure which it is). Either way – she is a frustrating bird when it comes to getting her in that coop at night.  For all her faults – she is a beautiful girl and I wouldn’t want to be without her. She adds an interesting dimension to the social order in the coop. Maybe I should try to woo her a bit more and speak Italian to her … bella gallina  …per l’amor di dio, ti prego, gentilmente, di andare a correre …perhaps she is just a little misunderstood chook.

Duncan’s in town

Well the day is finally here.  After over a year of research, and a couple of false starts, we got the message -Duncan’s Poultry’ is in town and he has a supply of 18-week-old pullets ready to go. I suspect these are the same pullets we had to turn down a few weeks back.

A combination of factors – bush fires, extreme heat, and then the sudden realisation we were going to be away for 3 days just after we picked them up – meant it hadn’t seemed the responsible thing to do, to bring these girls home just before Christmas. But now there was nothing stopping us.

So what do you need when you pick up 18 week-old pullets?

Given we literally lived 5 minutes along the road for Coastal Rural Traders (CRT) which is where Duncan parks up with his lorry, all we needed was a cardboard box or two with enough holes for them to breathe (and the air con going in the car). The first week of February on the East Coast of Australia is extremely hot so it was important to keep the girls comfortable even for such a short ride – they get dehydrated very quickly.

As we parked our own car and walked across the road to the squawking, rocking, feather wagon, I felt all the giddy excitement I used to feel going to the Pet Shop as a child (and you know how that turned out …Freedom for all Puppies).

And then it hit me …”phwoa – what’s that sme-eell?” I screw my nose and face up as though I’m eating a Brussel Sprout.

“That’s how chicken’s smell” Mr P answers simply (in that ‘everyone knows that’ tone of voice ) “Or at least that’s the smell of chicken sh*t.”

Well, not my chickens, I thought.

‘What yis afta?’ Duncan says amiably enough in his slow Australian drawl.

I was ready for this – I had done my research.

“Two black cross, one white white cross and a Brown.”  I hand over my cash and feel like I just had handed all my pocket money over to the ice cream van man. I then offer up our open boxes.

The next scene wasn’t quite as shall we say ‘gentle and fluffy’ as I had anticipated. Duncan made his way unseen around the truck (in a manner that made it clear why it was rocking from a distance) and then appeared with four birds swinging upside down. I suppressed a squeal of horror inside. I’ll never be the blasé style of farmer that can swing a pullet by its feet and I’m still easily shocked by this when I see birds handled this way.

“No I want 2 blacks”, I say as he tried to hand me another white. “oh right yeah’ he says as he darts off again and I feel sorry for the white pullet that is being unceremoniously swung back into her box. 

After a few scuffles and scraggly legs going everywhere, we have possession of our 4 girls.

“Now when you get back home don’t let them sit in the coop – just put them in the run – because if you let them go up to the coop they’ll just stay there – and it’s too hot for them to stay in the coop – they’ll die – alright?’ 

We nod our agreements and thanks and head off. 

“We have chickens!!!” I squeal. Another of those things I had always wanted in life had just come true.

“Time to go home girls. You’re going to love it.” 

As I looked at the two boxes in the back of the car, I couldn’t help thinking ‘Chicken to go – who ordered the chicken to go?’