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skiddingtowardsretirement

semi-retiring, work life balance, lifestyle block living

Month

August 2017

New life – that Spring feeling

In the last week the weather has turned the corner and it is feeling considerably warmer up here.  Indeed, some days it’s been so hot that I have found myself abandoning my jumper in favour of a short-sleeved tee shirt.

We are, of course, on the cusp of spring  and this is code for ‘unreliable weather’, so I know there will be some days when the barometer plummets and winter woollies will be required day wear, there will be frost on the ground to greet us on waking in the morning, and the need for a fire in the evening will be non-negotiable.

But this is a small price to pay for the arrival of spring the man and I think. Yes, we now have lambs in the paddocks, with more to be born. Having said this, we did have a stillborn lamb. Perfectly formed, it arrived on a very stormy night a couple of weeks ago and was still covered in its membrane when we found it dead the next morning. Nature.

The garden is giving us lots of pleasure. It is sprouting flowers that we never knew we had: freesias, daffodils and other bulbs in hiding since we came in January are pushing through the ground.

The fruit trees have been whipped into order and I’ve started my spraying programme – codling moths: be gone!  In the vegetable garden, the garlic shoots are now visible* and the rest of the garden is being slowly prepared for further plants when my go-to book tells me it is time.

Today I planted the heirloom tomato seeds I got from the Heritage Food Crops Research Trust. Once they have grown into seedlings, I will transfer them into the garden, meanwhile they are sitting in pots on a sunny window sill in my study.

I also have put in the first of the potatoes in the garden, after leaving them in sunlight for the required 7-10 days to sprout. My go-to book says that potatoes can be successfully grown in tyres, and strangely enough I found a couple behind the shed today, so I think I will give that a go too. Or maybe, I should make delightful tyre swan planters out of them? The perfect Christmas gift for a friend or two perhaps?

We are also thinking about putting a couple of hives in. One of our neighbours has bees so we went to see them. It turns out our neighbours are actually hosts, rather than the owners of the hives. For the use of their land, they get paid in honey – more than enough for their needs apparently. This may work perfectly for us, so we will do some investigation.

Meanwhile, the man and I are spending a lot of our days working hard on a new product. Yes, we think it may be the answer to getting the income part of the equation sorted. The man is busy perfecting prototypes and streamlining the process while I am spending a good swag of time sourcing materials at the best possible price from suppliers.  It is very exciting, but the best part is that we are really proud of the product as it is beautifully made and fits in exactly with our buy local philosophy. Watch this space!

Yes, life up north continues to be enjoyable and we remain optimistic!

* The garlic shoots look remarkably like kikuyu grass – a trap for the unwary!

New Life – creating opportunities

The man and I are still of the opinion that the move North is the best thing we have done.

Life up here has added a new dimension to our thinking. We are no longer in a hurry. We have slowed down and are far more patient.

Today we headed North to a small place called Oromahoe. This area lies just shy of the turn off to Paihia on State Highway 10.

We went to this small settlement to visit the Northland Kauri Timber Ltd. We weren’t however after kauri, rather we were after eucalyptus, and they had it.

The entrance to the sawmill is marked by a variety of signs at its gate: sawmill, cheese, kindergarten.  What these things had in common was yet to unfold.

We drove up the long driveway passed a field of sows and piglets, a paddock of horses, and a few houses to the sawmill.

The man parked and went into the office. It was smoko time and the workers were sitting around having a brew.  The man explained why he was there. Unfortunately, the workers couldn’t help him.

Why?

Let me explain.

This is the North and it is a Friday.  This means the owner had gone off hunting for the weekend.

Apparently, the owner’s partner would have been able to help, but as it so happened, she was off at a funeral. The workers suggested we come back later.

Now we are realists – this is a country community, chances were that the funeral’s after match function would be long.

We decided to go to Paihia for a cuppa and come back about 1-ish.

At the duly appointed time we returned.

The wake must have been a good affair because the owner’s wife was still absent.

The man and I decided that instead of getting wood, we would settle for cheese this trip!

We drove less than a 100 metres to a small, boutique cheese factory.  On this short journey we passed a honey place on our left. Our interest was  piqued: up this driveway was a kindy, a cheese factory, a sawmill operation, a working farm and now a honey place.

At Fieldays a couple of years ago, we saw a pretty fabulous portable sawmill in operation (the man and I have a weakness for portable sawmills)  and it was named Mahoe Sawmills (http://www.sawmills.co.nz).  You guessed it – the cheese company was called Mahoe Cheese… was there a connection?

So we asked the young man in the cheese shop. The answer was yes. It was his uncle’s business and  he pointed further down the drive.

He further explained that this 110 hectare property was his grandparents’ originally. Grandma and Granddad had approximately 7 children, give or take (the grandson was pretty vague on this). A lot of these children are now running their own businesses on the land.

The grandson is the third generation working there. How cool is that?

We bought our cheese and purchased some organic sausages. Yes, these too are a product of this land.

We left inspired.

We will return for the wood! And more cheese* which is delish, meat and honey.

ON our next visit, we might even venture further down the drive to the portable sawmill company. We have an obsession to feed, after all!

 

*The cheese is sold at the Whangarei Farmers’ market too.

 

New Life – learning curves

 

Being newbies to this life in country lark, there is so much information to be absorbed.

Even a task like pruning our fruit trees is a totally new experience, and one that this time around fell to me.

I  knew  that if we were to have the best yield possible, I needed to  prune and prune right, so this simple task to many, but not to me, required:

a. a trip to the nursery to talk to our kind garden guru about how it is done,

b. a perusal of all our gardening books and magazines to clarify the above information, hopefully with foolproof diagrams for me to follow,

c. and just to be doubly sure, a quick look at you tube videos to see it actually being done. In real time preferably.

Some of the advice turned out to be confusing including this gem: a bird should be able to fly through the middle of the tree.  Easy as, right? Except it left me wondering whether the bird referred to was an anorexic wax eye or a kereru with an obesity problem?

And, of course, some advice was just plain contradictory.  Sigh.

Regardless, yesterday I took the pruning saw in hand and began on one of  the apple trees.  I started off pruning fairly conservatively. Yes, the trees probably hadn’t seen a pruning saw in the last decade, maybe longer,  but I still felt it prudent to exercise a degree of caution.

However, there is something about cutting off branches that seemed to bring out  confident me.  Admittedly, probably a decidedly unhealthy level  of confidence, but confidence nonetheless.

I loped off branches like there was no tomorrow, following each cut up with a slap of paint. At regular intervals I assessed my handiwork, and worked out my next move.

An hour or so later, I finally stood back and looked at the tree in a smug and satisfied way.  It may not be perfectly pruned, but it was acceptable.

I put my saw away for the day.  I deserved a drink!

Story Two

Our tame  young farm manager popped by to say hi and check on his flock.

We stood chatting to him for a few minutes as we watched a plane land on the farm airfield across from us.

We asked him who was the owner of the farm and its airfield. He replied the owner’s name was Biggles. First name apparently.

The man and I smirked. A polite smirk, mind you! The farm manager looked utterly confused.

We explained that Biggles was a World War One pilot in a kids’ book from our childhood,

We all laughed.

Story three.

A week or so after the Biggles incident, the first of our lambs were born. Twins and a singleton.

About two days after this, the man noticed a newborn lamb abandoned in the paddock; its mother standing way off.

The lamb appeared to be breathing shallowly.

We called our tame farm manager. He told us to stay away from the lamb and he would swing  by in half an hour.

We kept away as instructed, but kept a close eye on the scene – our townie colours truly showing!

When Kayel turned up as promised, our near-dead newborn lamb was standing up  looking decidedly healthy.

The lamb was neither newborn  or about to meet his maker. Our lamb was in fact the singleton born a few days previously and his near-death experience was simply a nap.

Our young farm manager just grinned at us in a very amused farmer-y sort of way.

And we grinned back too. Sheepishly.

Learning curves – a two way street.

 

 

 

 

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