Emily Herbert and baby

While he sleeps... with Emily Herbert

Emily Herbert is not only connected to the bush in more ways than one, but she can transport you there in an instant through her lively descriptions that effortlessly seem to evoke all your senses.

We've been captivated by snippets of Emily's writing and daily life via her page on Instagram for awhile now. There you can witness the beautiful tapestry of life she has been weaving of late as a bush writer and newfound rural based Mum.

Emily has been published in a number of well known publications, including Graziher magazine, who's podcast Life on the Land, she co-hosts.

Emily has kindly shared with us her very first entry of her latest project, a weekly e-newsletter, '"While he sleeps" - scribbled in the wrinkle of time during her baby's naps'. The newsletter is dotted with musings of daily life and things she's enjoying.

Whilst the below entry is from the turn of Spring, it gives you a wonderful insight into not only Emily's incredible writing, but into the ordinary life of a newfound Mum in the bush, in a not so ordinary time.


Emily Herbert and Jack Russell

Words: Emily Herbert

I rarely write for myself. Usually because I don’t know where to start. With no brief, no deadline, no podcast guest, it’s easy to push to the bottom of the list. The well feels dry. My energy is in drought. Split from a dwindling reserve into many streams and mercurial rivulets. More stagnant, mozzie laden puddles than I’d like. 
I’ve meandered around the thought of writing a newsletter for years. I enjoy reading others. There are several I never delete but leave waiting, unread, a tasty treat for when I have a moment to myself. A glittering morsel in an inbox littered with spam and business and Australian Post notifications.
So here it is. While he sleeps is an act of surrender. It’s not perfect. I am challenging myself to a quick, weekly scribble while the baby is down. It’s a silver spangled flipping of the bird to my inner critic. It’s not a work of art. But it has been created, and if I’m the only one to draw pleasure from it, that’s ok. As Arthur Ashe urges, I am starting where I am, using what I have, doing what I can. 
You can unsubscribe if you don’t want weekly observations from a 32-year-old woman navigating motherhood, work and yoga leggings from regional Australia while living with her parents, five dogs, 12 Friesian poddies, 18 horses, a baby called Huckleberry and her Welsh sculptor husband. Niche, I know.
My mother is the safe space for my sisters and I. She is the one we call when the proverbial shit hits the fan. She’s slight, while we are raw boned and tall, yet she is the moon from which we constellate. I remember calling her, weeping from a Darwin hotel room last year. I was huddled under the air conditioner, six months pregnant, swollen and resplendent with gastro. It was 38 degrees and a hundred per cent humidity, like living in a bowl of soup. Life was dire. Her utterance, as it always is when something isn’t going right for one of us - ‘Darling, just get on a plane. Come home.’
It’s a running trend for us all, that the three little ducklings come scurrying back to the nest when our feather are ruffled. My husband darkly jokes that my mother unleashed COVID-19, so we would move back to Australia. The co-dependence is strong. No matter where we are in the world, the umbilical cord, straining, usually draws us back, snapping back to its rightful place, secured tightly against gravity and the like. Our small farm, 180 golden acres in north west New South Wales, is a homing beacon. It’s where we feel safe. It’s seasons. The familiar skyline, the dividing range violet on the horizon.
So of course, the baby pigeons pivot mid-flight and hone in on home for lockdown 2.0. Regional Australia has felt apart from the pandemic; life has continued relatively unabated. Not now. So my parent’s small home is once again filled with people. My sister, six-months deep into her PHD and her high-school teacher partner have moved in, afraid of being stuck in town, exhausting their neighbourhood walks, should lockdown extend. My baby sister abandoned her Newcastle home a month ago, leaving before the virus strangled the city’s sense of normalcy. My husband, our seven-month old baby and I have been living with my folks for 18-months, since borders closed and we couldn’t get back to our New Zealand life.
Seven adults and a baby, working and loving and arguing in a home the size of an extended caravan. The fibro walls are thin, and refrains of various zoom lessons and meetings filter through. Dad booms on the phone from the dining room table where his laptop and diaries and papers and half-drunk cups of cold, dark coffee spill. He has never heard of an inside voice. I am sitting on our bed, at the far end of the house. I thank the lockdown gods we are at the end of the corridor which is noisy, and creaks under every tread. Doors slam, the kettle is being boiled. A loo flushes. Someone yells the tea is ready. The sound of my husband’s welder flares and stops, flares and stops as he works from his shed across the lawn.
It is hard, lovely work living in such numbers. Biting tongues when walking on the kitchen floor first thing in the morning, grainy with spilt sugar. The dishwasher always needs unpacking. Dinners in front of the TV, bodies on the floor on pillows, faces white and blue in the flickering light; dinners crammed around the table, laughing, spilling wine. Waiting for a shower, or left shivering when someone can’t hold out any longer and steals the hot water from the second bathroom. Tempers rise, grumbles are had, then dismissed. Impromptu dance offs. Pilates in the lounge room.
The baby unites us all – he is the sun and we are drawn to him like daisies seeking warmth. Passed around like a hock of ham, his pork chop legs kicking in excitement. Every adult desperate to elicit his easy smiles, his burbling laugh. He is rarely left to be unhappy; always a ready pair of arms to swoop in and carry him off, to press their lips into his neck and sing another song. Play, chat, faces alight with devotion. He turns his fat dimpled cheeks away from yet another kiss, eyes creased with chuckling security in his princely world.
We split across the house, escaping for a moment of quiet to drink tea on the coveted couch on the deck. It’s covered in dog hair, but offers the best view. I yearn for solitude. Then, instantly want to be involved when someone says they’re going for a walk, or getting their horse in. Wait for me.  
The door leading out to the veranda from our room is open, and a breeze, cooled by the sprinkler on the lawn, washes through. I can feel its light touch on my hands as I type. Two dachshunds lie in the sun, sodden with its heat. A riot of kookaburras have taken up sentry in the gum next to my window and I’m considering throwing a shoe at them to still their racket. I hope they don’t wake the baby.
Glancing outside, I like the way the lavender bushes thrum and quiver in the dappled light. After a cold snap, the weekend has felt like spring. The sound of the sprinkler is enduring, dredging up memories of childhood – the enduring, quiet burr of summer, the smell of the hard bore water hitting baked earth. Circles of green like UFO landings on the crispy lawn. Mum dragging a hosepipe. A perpetual dance, moving hoses. 


Emily is one of our featured Creators and you can read more about Emily and how you can connect with her here.

Bridget Coulton