Thursday, August 3, 2017

An average day

You know the feeling, you have been on the go all day, non-stop, barely time for a coffee break...but evening comes and you think "what did I do today?" or your loved ones ask you that same question and you are at a loss to answer.

Welcome to my every day!

Today I tidied the house while drinking my first coffee, fed the puppy, fed the chooks and goats and let them out of their pens. Watched goats for a bit because they are so cute.

Ava is no longer limping and the scours have dried up (did I tell you about the scours?? anyway...so I drenched a goat for the first time!) she is looking a lot happier. Gigi is friendly as, and Zsa Zsa is getting braver.

Took photos of goats and fed them hay by hand.

Fed the goats bits of the sourdough bread I had put in the chook bucket.

Threw the ball for the puppy and did a bit of training while drinking second coffee and trying to download emails.

Did some emails, social and finally managed to get my code from Google to fix up my google business account. Wrote some ads and did general business maintenance stuff. Sent cute goat photos to husband.

Ate brunch because I had forgotten breakfast.

Planted paeonies, had to put puppy in kennel as she likes to help me garden...by digging up whatever I have just planted...but only if she sees me plant it.

Moved what felt like truckloads of mulch...didn't make a dent in the mulch mountain.
Untied puppy and threw the stick until she laid down.
Mulched fruit trees and asparagus bed.
Checked on goats, gave them cuddles.

Attached a broom holder thingy to the laundry wall ( 3 of them actually) and then decided that the laundry looked so much nicer so I cleaned the rest of it.

Took the puppy to the beach to collect bull kelp for the asparagus bed.
Puppy was terrified of water, sand, sea birds.
Spent ages cuddling puppy.




Brought the kelp home, tipped it into an unused trough (watched by jealous puppy, who is not allowed in the chook paddock) and washed the sand off it, left it to soak overnight. Will chop it up and dig it into the bed tomorrow.




More housework.

Thought about dinner. Did some emails and paid bills.

Took Frasier out to meet the goats, they were very interested in one another. Puppy was jealous.
Took photos of Frasier and the goats. Took photos of the goats watching the chooks.







Put the goats to bed, put the chooks to bed. Played with jealous puppy.

Thought about dinner.

Fed the puppy and Frasier, cleaned the hall windows.
Fed the sourdough starter.
Checked my advertising schedule to make sure I was on track, checked social. Chatted with husband, spoke with daughter on phone, skyped with GD#1 and GD#4, watched as they jumped off the couch numerous times.

Took lentil soup (i make this one - but in the pressure cooker and I don't blend it) out of the freezer and microwaved it, made cheese on toast to go with it.

Put the puppy in her crate.

Watched Masterchef, felt bad about my giving husband frozen soup and cheese toast for dinner. Ate chocolate.

Reading in bed now, will go to sleep in an hour, no doubt will be awoken twice in the night by cat wanting in the bed, out of the bed, outside, inside, in the bed.

And then it starts all over again!












Sunday, July 30, 2017

Welcome goat girls!

I  vacillate wildly over the idea of stocking this land, there are so many variables to consider. One moment I am all "alpacas and donkeys and ponies", the next I am "chooks and beef only". I am trying to consider the amount of work required by an animal and my ability to cope with their needs. 

Our land has some gorse, not huge amounts but you know the way gorse works, one moment you think it is under control, next moment you own a gorse farm. I can't spray for health reasons and we only use sprays as a last resort, so it became evident that we would have to spray or get goats. As usual I researched the crap out of different breeds before settling on Boer goats as we are not interested in milking goats and would like something that is less of an escapologist than your usual caprine. 

Boer goats are bred for meat, they are short and stocky and seem to cope with life pretty well. We don't really want them for meat, more as lawnmowers.

Having decided that this was the breed for us and out land we then set about finding some. Luckily we found a small herd for sale 1.5 hrs drive from us, and travelled there on a beautiful sunny morning towing a covered cage trailer. 

The farm where the goats were bred had suffered a drenching in the latest round of floods and everyone was a bit miserable. They handled the trip well and we turfed them out into our cattle yard so they could settle down without having to cope with the paddock just yet. 

The small ones (doe kids - 6 months of age) jumped and frolicked, the older one has scald on a back leg from the flooding and was suffering a bit, after a couple of hours we moved them into the smaller pen next door with lots of food and water and a big shelter full of straw, the bedded down and settled in really well.

This morning I let them out into the first paddock, the little ones were full of joy, kicking up and running. I gave the older one a wash down as she had scoured, then washed and dried her feet and applied copper sulphate. I drenched her with apple cider vinegar, garlic and molasses to give her a bit of energy and try to settle her tummy. Over the next few hours she perked up a lot, and I washed her feet down with iodine. They are on dry ground here, so hopefully with daily treatment it should settle down.

This afternoon they were in full exploration mode and have been enjoying the browse in the paddock, particularly the gorse - which is great to see, thats why they are here after all!

I was very apprehensive on the way up, and on the way home, but as soon as they were unloaded the apprehension lifted and I felt so happy seeing them wandering around getting to know their new home. 


Gigi (doe kid) in the foreground


Ava (4 year old doe) looking a bit better after some TLC


Zsa Zsa (doe kid) having a bad hair day


Gorgeous Gigi


Zsa Zsa still isn't sure of me!


Ava showing us "this is how a goat eats gorse...very carefully)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Really? Its been 3 months?

So, we moved in...Flash moved in first, he was already down here for work and had driven my car loaded to the gunwales.

I started at 4.30 on the saturday morning, drugged the cat, packed my remaining possessions and drove to the airport, which was hectic and thanks to some "charming" documentary filmmakers Frasier and I only just managed to board our flight. I didn't even manage to have a coffee.

Arriving was easy, cat came out, luggage came out, Baby Girl picked us up and drove us to the farm where the movers had already unpacked half the container and were in full flight. Baby Girl and I both swooned at the gorgeousness of the place (remember it had been almost 5 long months since we had last seen it) and Flash was in his element.

Frasier settled into his crate happily sleeping off his medication, and we slowly unpacked our old life into our new home.

Fast forward 3 months and it has been a dream. We have learnt so much, worked hard and lost weight! The farm has been named (more to come) and we now have "stock" (ok, ok we have 5 chooks - 2 laying and 3 freeloading) and 3 weeks ago I lost my head and brought a rescue pup home.

We have been snowed in, watched floods decimate half the district, witnessed sunrises that will make you cry, auroras had us spellbound and sunsets that bathe the house in gold. We have met the neighbours and walked the perimeters countless times. We have learnt how to keep a fire burning for days, what to do if the gas doesn't automatically switch over and have proceeded with the changes we want to make "now" instead of waiting as we have always done.

Thats how the 3 months disappeared!








Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Gathering

Waiting is always difficult...that last few days of pregnancy always seem like months, as a child Christmas Eve lasts forever. Today is Wednesday, the movers come next Tuesday, Gordon leaves the following Sunday and I will remain, with the cat, in an empty house.

Deciding what goes and when is complex...I want to pack the kitchen up but we need lots of the things, there is no point in packing the lesser used items when it won't take much more time to pack everything...so I wait. We actually packed up a lot of stuff (and filled 3 mini skips) prior to listing the house, so there really isn't that much here, but I like to be ready!

It doesn't help that I have been gathering a few new items to help with our rural lifestyle. I gave away so many things and declared that I would be so careful not to bring new things in and here I am doing just that. I am not doing it carelessly though...a Fowler Vacola water canner is so much safer than trying to lift a giant pan of hot water from the stove, both in terms of the small people who will be around and the fact that in 15-20 years time I will not be as strong as I am now.

A serious dehydrator will save money and help preserve our harvest for use during the year. Jerky and dried fruit and vegetable leathers for healthier snacks. Dried veggies for soups and stews. I am sensitive to sulphites (I experience breathing difficulties after ingestion) so dried fruit has to be sulphite free. This will ensure that it is.


A tapener is an extreme time saver, I was using stretchy rubber ties to tie up my tomatoes, cucumbers and climbers, but they are expensive and won't be suitable in a large garden. I bought the tapener from Hong Kong via Ebay, as I haven't seen them here (I am sure they are available commercially). I have friends who have bought them from the same supplier and swear by them. 



I am sure many more garden tools will make their way into the shed. We will take our time to ensure that they are quality, long lasting and necessary before purchase.

One last indulgence is my kettle. A Le Creuset traditional whistling kettle  (in coastal blue) has long been a symbol of home and hearth for me. A kettle that can boil water using any heat source, a kettle I can place on the wood stove in winter and not rely on electricity. I received a royalties payment from a pattern publisher and I immediately knew where it was going,  getting it at a reduced price was a bonus, so I can buy a couple of packets of my favourite tea to get me through the winter.


I want my grandchildren to fight over this kettle, a rotary whisk that has been on our family for generations and my mixing bowls when I am gone!
Everything I remember from my childhood has been from the kitchen, I remember visiting my best friend from childhood after 10 years, walking into her kitchen and exclaiming "you have your Mum's wooden spoon!" its the simple things that hold the greatest memories.








Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Down the rabbit hole

The decorator dramas, 14 hour days and then suddenly we were finished and the open homes began. I spent every day cleaning and trying to live with none of our stuff. Everything was in storage so we could present our house beautifully. Agents here every day for private viewings, open homes on thursday, saturday and sunday. Having to take Frasier away in the car (which he hates) so that he wouldn't misbehave during the open homes (he is a Bengal...this is his territory...misbehaving ranges from quietly seething from under a chair, to yelling a lot, to peeing on handbags). And then finally, after a month the big day arrived and the auction began...Flash and I sat in the hallway straining our ears to hear the auctioneer on the deck, 40 people in attendance, 4 bidders...and then it started...low - ohmigod too low...and then it struggled and suddenly it steamrolled closer and closer to our reserve...and then it stopped. We looked at one another, the agents and auctioneer descended on us. We took 10 seconds and said "yes" drop the reserve...too many places aren't selling and we don't want to sit around, and two minutes later that was it, the house was sold.

It took days for the relief to set in, to stop the obsessive tidying (but the house is still like a showhouse...we are both enjoying that!) to start cooking dinner in our own kitchen (and cooking curries and chillies, as the smell didn't matter any more). The agent dropped us like a hot potato as is their wont, and the cat was allowed inside again (although he now overnights in a dog crate in the garage which is working well).

I am in a form of suspended animation, just doing the bare minimum to the veggie garden, cleaning out the spent plants and saving seed, not much more, no planting for next season as it is no longer 'my" garden. I have no work as my studio is packed and my website now reaches an Otago audience (I already have some bookings down there which is great!) and designing knits just seems impossible with my scrambled brain. So I am knitting my own and others patterns, planning some cowls and balaclavas to protect my cheeks from the cold. I am watching homesteading docos and catching up on  new photoshop techniques. I'm trying to spend my time doing positive things that will pay off in six weeks time when we hit the ground.

I have "met" (virtually) a few of our neighbours to be and they are lovely, I am now receiving the community newsletter and have answers to many of my questions. our internet connection will be enough to watch netflix and for Flash to telecommute, so we are happy with that! the grandchildren are getting more and more excited (donkeys, ponies, donkeys, ponies), but they will have to make do with chickens until we have spent time on the land and worked out what it needs. Exciting times ahead!


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Committed

We have decided to go unconditional early, our lawyer is a lovely guy, but ponderous. I have heard too many stories about buyers being gazumped due to lawyers taking too long to let them know about  vendors exercising their right to cancel in the face of a better offer. We couldn't bear the thought and we have bridging finance if we need it, so we decided to go ahead. Scary!

Flash brought a truck home for me to test drive over the weekend (don't fret - the model, transmission, extras and colour were all chosen by me). I am in love...it is perfect! Now to make sure our house sells so that I can buy it. My current vehicle just isn't cut out for icy roads and since I will often have very precious cargo in the form of grandchildren we are not willing to take any risks.  It will also be handy for picking up loads of hay, cages of chickens and sacks of feed (I just love saying all that stuff!).






What day is it??

We are halfway through our third week of renovations. It feels as though nothing is going to get done in time. The painters are still leaving every day after 2 hours work, but there is nothing we can do, we are paying them for the job not the hours and so long as it gets done before the allotted date they can keep disappearing. It is annoying because when those rooms are done we can put the furniture back in them. At the moment we are climbing over piles of stuff and can't even get into the bath to fit the taps as the tub is the safest place to store our art so that it doesn't get knocked!

We spent the weekend completing the upstairs decks, back and front and we are really happy with the results. We know we should have been inside painting before the carpet arrives (Feb 7) but the psychological effects of the great looking decks is worth the anguish over the painting. We will just have to go hard this week. The downstairs bathrooms (bathroom, seperate toilet and seperate shower - very handy with teenage girls!) are looking amazing though!

We have chosen an agent, she was the third one we interviewed and her values seem to align with ours, she is willing to try some of our crazy ideas and has given us a realistic appraisal of the house value.




Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tea Mr Shifter?

I was awake at 3 am, feeling nauseous and shivery. I got up and did a bit of work so as not to disturb Flash with my tossing and turning. We are both under so much stress. Finances are worrying us, we jumped into this with little money saved (because we had the "two year plan") and what we have got is disappearing fast...the painter, the paint, new carpet, plumber and today the shifter came to assess our quote.

I'm a little bit terrified.

We have 40 boxes already stored in my Mum's garage - our library, kitchen and spare room already packed. We are looking down the barrel of a 40 foot container from Auckland to Dunedin! Payday is still 20 days away and we are feeling very edgy.

I just keep thinking "leap of faith", step out knowing the path will rise up before you. It will...it always does because we always find a way. The one thing I know and that I keep holding on to is that the house is right, it is so right. Temporary pain will lead to a lifetime of happiness and security.

This afternoon we received an email from the second of the three agents we are interviewing. His suggestion of the expected sales price fell short of our expectations, and varied considerably from the first agent's suggestion. We are slightly confused and a little deflated. I have decided to just keep painting...its not fun but it is constructive.


(first bedroom finished)


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Post the first.

Currently this blog is private, we have told very few people of our plans...due to our superstitions that if we tell the world about our plans that somehow they may escape our grasp.

A ridiculous idea, but one we fear as we want this SO MUCH!

So, the plan.

We currently live in a very pretty and pleasant corner of suburban Auckland (New Zealand), called Titirangi. We are nestled into the foothills of the native bush clad Waitakere Ranges in Auckland's west. It is a 15 minute drive to the city (in the middle of the night with no traffic) or a minimum of 45 minutes (but usually an hour) if you are my husband commuting by car. Commuting by car is the only option unless you have someone to drop you at the train station which is a 5 minute drive or 45 minute walk away.

I am lucky, I'm self employed and work mainly from home, so am shielded from the worst of the traffic. However, progress has not left me unaffected. I try to minimise my trips around the city, to the supermarket or hardware store. The malls leave me cold and slightly panicky, never being able to find the items I am searching for. I have learnt to plan well in advance and purchase gifts from ETSY, Felt and Toggle. I am a designer and artist, I like to purchase local and handmade whenever possible. I feel that creativity is where the future lies. If robots can perform our highly skilled jobs, as well as the manual ones then humans are going to have to change their plans...soon...and creative self-expression looks like a good route to follow.

Our home is pleasant, large and comfortable. Over the past 10 years we have removed an old and leaky in ground pool and built in spa, built new decks, fully fenced the property with attractive fences and removed a giant Phoenix palm which was attacking our house and threatening our neighbours. We have built vegetable gardens and created a small orchard. We have enjoyed living here, but it does not suit our needs. We sit outside on the summer evenings listening to our neighbours conversations, our visitors jockey for parking spaces in our narrow road, our cat has pissed off the majority of the street in one way or another over his decade here. We feel stifled, squashed. We yearn to stretch and breath, to listen to nothing but the sounds of of the cicadas, the rustling winds, the cry of the Karearea.

We had plans for escape, we had written them down, made ourselves a timeline. We had posted our plans to the wall in our office. Our plans gave us the ability to cope with the present knowing the future was mapped out. We had a two year plan...and then, holidaying in Otago over Christmas we happened upon our dream property. We drove up the driveway and we knew we were home. We walked into the house and both had a little something in our eyes. We went home, talked into the night and the next day we made an offer that we thought was more than fair...we wanted this house and we weren't mucking around. Our offer was accepted and we came home to Auckland and started work.

So now we are 2 weeks in...the house is a bomb site, wallpaper ripped off walls, grout all over the place, carpets pulled up, the spare room is now full of tools and paint, my studio is home to all of the furniture from the lounge and dining, laundry baskets hold our pantry food (in the laundry). This how we meet you then, right in the middle of chaos.


the chaos

the cat supervising

the list (the way out)