TRAVELS WITH NINA

is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

AN ODE TO CHICKS

Over the past few weeks, “Chateau Tracteur” (as we now call our little abode in the Hunter Valley) has been filled with chicks. Lots of chicks. It’s been a constant celebration of the feminine, an ignition of divine female energy on our land. Lucky Pete.

The first group of chicks to arrive were my gorgeous Sussex chooks, a gift from Pete and most definitely his cunning way of stopping me from leaving the farm.

Well, it’s working.

From the moment we picked my four girls up from the poultry breeder, it was love at first peck. We set up a chook pen outside the study window, and quickly named the girls Neptune, Chamomile (after one of the biodynamic preparations), Yoko Ono (we couldnt resist) and Ninchky (the runt of the litter who arrived with an anklet on; I had no choice but to use my Hungarian nickname for her).

I simply cannot resist their tiny fluffy white bodies, their soft clucks coming through the window as I work, and the way they waddle over at top speed to peck at our feet whenever we walk into the garden.

Unfortunately someone else on the vineyard, our Maremma sheepdog Minty, loves the girls too. So much so that she couldn’t resist having a play with Neptune which scared her, quite literally, to death. It was a sad moment when we had to bury her beneath our new rose bushes. R.I.P Queen Neptune; may you do the chicken dance up in the sky forevermore.

Just a couple of weeks later another chick, my girlfriend Suus from Amsterdam, arrived.

I met Suus two years ago at the Sivananda ashram in Kerala in South India. We bonded over yoga and travel and laughed ’til our bellies ached. After spending a week in Burgundy together last year we were officially soul sisters, and Suus booked a ticket to visit Australia.

We spent a deliciously lazy week on the vineyard, cooking up biodynamic feasts from the veggie gardens, doing yoga on the lawn, hanging out with the animals and playing dress ups in the vines. Suus is a true Earth Mother and taught me how to connect with our lovely old horse Sunny who, truth be told, I’d always been a tad nervous around. I can’t wait to have Suus show me around Amsterdam when we’re back in Europe later this year.

The day after Suus left we celebrated 45 years of marriage between my mum and dad-in-law, Rod and Suzanne, the founders of Krinklewood and two of the most inspirational people I know. Alongside my two beautiful sisters-in-law and a gaggle of the cutest nephews and nieces you ever did see, we toasted love and life on the lawn until the sun dipped below the horizon. If Pete and I can achieve half of what Rod and Suzanne have together over 45 years, we’ll be pretty damn proud of ourselves. 

Then came my girl Laura May’s birthday last weekend. Laura is a true star seed; a trailblazing burst of sunshine, who is also one half of the ethical luxury yoga brand nagnAta.

To celebrate her 30th Pete and I hosted an intimate dinner party for her and seven of her best chicks. We covered ourselves in sequins, bindis and glitter and kicked off the evening with biodynamic sparkling as the sun set by the goose dam. We set up a table in the garden covered in flowers and vintage textiles and had local chef Dimitris Aronis from Private Chef Catering cook up a feast for us. He served a delectable selection of beetroot carpaccio with buffalo mozzarella and figs, wild barramundi with sweet corn puree and leeks, all topped off with handmade truffles and macarons. Dimitris and his team are true professionals, leaving us completely sated and the kitchen as though no one had ever been in there.

After dancing our booties off until the wee hours, Laura, Pete and I crashed out under the full moon in our Soul Pad bedouin tent. Pure bliss.

And now. Now that all my chicks bar three fuzzy white ones have left, it’s quiet once again. Time to write, reflect and read, to sip tea and get my hands into the soil, and to continue making this house a home.

Thank you to all the beautiful women who danced, laughed and celebrated on our land this month. It, and we, are so much richer for it.

Chamomile and YokoLady KnolSuus SunnyDr Quinn Medicine WomanHappy FamilySuus swingBelle glarmComing Up RosesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALaura b'day tableOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATea timeRod & Suzanne love