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skiddingtowardsretirement

semi-retiring, work life balance, lifestyle block living

Month

February 2017

New Life – Week 5 – Getting there

Yes, I know I am late putting this post up and I apologize, but life has been busy. Actually, there is so much I have to update you on since the last post, there is a real danger that I will exceed a sensible amount of words. Don’t worry though, I’ve worked out a way around this problem: in the name of succinctness, I’ll opt for the list solution!

  1. We have sorted out how the water works here. Jim, who farms 500 acres across the other side of the main road, came around the other day to drop a ram off (another story) and it transpired that he had owned our property for 10 years, so, of course, we cornered him and asked him a shedload of questions. And, of course, he answered them in his quiet, laconic, farmer- type of way. As Kev, our logging truckie neighbour, had told us the week before, water had, indeed, come from the dam. But not now, and it never provided the drinking water to the house (outside house taps, yes). Phew!  In the old days, before someone wreaked havoc on the system, a windmill pumped water from the spring-fed dam to a settling pond (the round concrete thing we thought might be a well or a bore) and this supplied water to a dedicated tank that filled the troughs. The house supply came off the shed and the house into a separate tank. Presently, the two tanks get fed from the shed and the house: one tank with the filter supplies the house, the other tank supplies the troughs.*
  2. We finally had that catch up with the neighbours, John and Marie, after meeting John again at the kiwi release in McLeod’s Bay and getting invited back for the promised drink. Just briefly, the Whangarei Heads area is an area where through the efforts of Backyard Kiwi, supported by a very dedicated community, kiwi  numbers have increased from around 80 in the early 90s to between 800-1000 now.**
  3. Karl, our tenant farmer, arrived 10 days or so ago with 6 sheep. These sheep are doing a sterling job of knocking the paddocks into shape. I guess this is hardly surprising as they seem to eat most of the day. sheep.jpg
  4. The ram arrived two days ago. This is a magnificent creature whose job it is to cosy up to the girls and father as many lambs as possible. Unfortunately, he has gone slightly lame, so is ‘off his game’. Don’t worry though, Karl is on the case and has some medicine which will help the lameness and encourage aforementioned ram to get on with the job he was put on Earth to do!
  5. The man and I are proud owners of a ride-on mower and a rotary hoe. Needless to say, mowing the lawn is now novel and fun. Long may it last.ride on mower.jpg
  6. Lastly, we have managed to get the scrap metal that was around the place picked up. This includes the seriously munted windmill by the dam*, an old cattle trap, a huge cylinder that was probably used as a smoker in a past life, a metal gate that Jim told us had not survived a frisky bull, and some iron fencing that was part of an old piggery.

Week 5 and we are feeling we are getting somewhere as we slowly sort the land and systems out, and become part of this tight-knit community. Awesome, right?

* We will replace the windmill when time and dollars permit.

** Predator numbers are now extremely low in the Heads as a result of the work of Backyard Kiwi and the local community.

New Life – Week 4 – Water rights

Last night it rained. This morning it rained. 6 days ago a drought was declared up here, so these showers will be welcomed by the farmers, and also by those folk on tank water who are running short.

The man and I are on tank water too, so logically we should have been low on water too, except we weren’t. The water level in our two connected tanks (we have a third, unconnected tank too) has remained consistently at just over 3/4 full since we arrived a month ago.  And therein lies the mystery – with no rain topping them up, how come the level hasn’t gone down?

Now we are not new to this tank water lark, having lived with it for most of the last fifteen years. But we confess, we are flummoxed.

We do know that the tanks are fed by rain from the shed roof, but from what we can see, the house roof is not supplying.

We also know that in a former life, the property was part of a farm, and in another life, calla lilies were grown here commercially. Each of these operations would have required a serious water supply way beyond what a roof or two can provide: the black alkathene pipes which zigzag across our paddocks in a haphazard way from the taps nailed onto fence posts to the troughs, or to form the  regimented lines of a very sophisticated irrigation system are testament to this.*

So where did this water come from? And is it still supplying us?

On Sunday, Kevin, the next door neighbour, popped in to introduce himself. Over a beer, we mentioned our magic never-ending water supply and Kev said it was sourced from our pond; except we think he is wrong. Actually, we hope he is wrong. You see after he left we visited the pond and there are no pipes, pumps or other paraphernalia down at the pond to make this possible. Also the pond was full-on disgusting and if we’ve been drinking that water, the man and I are convinced we would be dead, or soon to be dead.**

Which makes the man and I think that our water supply is something to do with a strange small round concrete bunker thing which sits besides the tanks. It is always full of clear water, although it is not connected to the roof. We think that it might be something to do with a spring or a bore. Both of which would explain our omni-present water supply.

Fortunately for us, the original builder of our house lives about 500 metres away; one day we’ll pop in and ask him.

*sadly, pipes and irrigation have been cut and left in quite a random fashion, rather than kept in good nick or removed. This makes it a bit like solving a jigsaw puzzle as we try and work out which troughs and irrigation pipes are still connected to water supplies.

** our tenant farmer is going to clean out the stagnant pond.

New Life – Week 3 -On friendly terms

One of the biggest fears I had about moving was whether the man and I would be welcomed into the neighbourhood and make friends. Of course, we’ve all heard stories about areas where it took decades to be considered a bona fide member of the community.

The land around us is mainly farms –  big farms of several hundred acres. From what we can glean in the short time we have been here, these farms have been in the same families for at least a couple of generations, maybe more.

This means that a lot of our neighbours have lived here all of their lives and have formed tight friendships, so we did wonder whether they would have space in their busy lives to be friends with us, or would we have to cast further afield?  Maybe join the local tiddlywinks club or something?

We needn’t have worried. Making friends here is not going to be a problem. Everyone to date has been up for a chat, helpful and interested in us and us in them. Vague coffee invitations have been extended by both them and us. And they will happen when time permits (country life is busy!) Yes, all the ingredients necessary to form friendships are there.

And so today, Mark, one of the guys whom we met last Sunday when he picked up the hay he’d purchased from our tenant farmer  – so that is how  it is economically viable for our tenant farmer to do all that work on our land gratis!!* –  popped in.

We’ve been invited to a barbeque at his place this Sunday.  How cool is that?

Now I’ve got to work out what to make to take. Mark is head of the food technology unit at the local polytech, but I won’t be stressing – turning out a light sponge is not a pre-requisite of becoming a good friend, is it?

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The tractor towing the hay making attachment

*Our tenant farmer made 98 bales of hay from our land. The going rate for a bale  is $7 – $10, so for about 5 hours work, $700 – $980 of hay was made. However, the very large tractor and 4 flash attachments used in the process would have cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars, maybe more… so needless to say, we’ll continue with the deal we have!

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