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semi-retiring, work life balance, lifestyle block living

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New life – Week 2

Twice now I’ve walked to the letter box only to have a swamp harrier hawk take flight from about ten feet away from me. And yes, it’s been most disconcerting each time it has happened, although I’ve seen the bird in the sky around the house numerous times, so logically I should have figured out that we had a hawk residing at our place too!

I didn’t know a lot about them, so I had a quick look on the internet and apparently they build their nest in overgrown grass among other things, so that figures as the area beside the drive is exactly that.

They also are a farmer’s sort of friend preying on mice etc and clearing up road kill. The ‘sort of’ bit is that they can be a bit indiscriminate with their killing and have been known to have a go at newborn lambs and chooks!  From what I can gather, harriers that get involved in this malarkey are fair game and the normal protection afforded them can be waivered, so our bird better behave itself when the sheep and chooks arrive!

Which segues nicely into the next thing that has happened – the man’s rather dodgy sign has worked! We have got someone to graze sheep on our land. So here is the low down on it: our tenant farmer is a young farm manager, Karl, who looks after two farms on our road and the main road (1000 acres in total – one owner). The deal is that he looks after the land and fences and grazes his sheep for free. If we want to take it over, we can buy the sheep from him.

Now our 5 paddocks have been let go, so our keen young farm manager has been here the last two nights with a huge tractor cutting the fields (two different flash blades) in preparation for making hay.

tractor
Karl doing the first mow of the paddock closest to the road.

Once the hay is made, he will clean out the pond with a digger and fix up a water supply to one trough (the rest of the troughs are fine) and then the sheep arrive. We think this will be in the next week.

Meanwhile the man and I are slowly working in the garden. There is an overgrown vegetable patch which we will reinstate and expand come next spring. We are so committed to this that we have signed up to buy a pre-loved rotary hoe with a myriad of amazing ‘must have’ attachments from the fellow we bought our ride on from. I have got a funny feeling that we are going to be suckers for a lot of machinery!

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The drive looking towards the barn. On the left of the drive is the overgrown vegetable patch which borders the orchard.  The harrier hawk lives on the left (not in picture) further towards the road.

Two weeks in and life is amazing! We have made sterling progress with the house, shed and now the land is well on the way to getting sorted. I am getting prepared to start on the sequel to book 1, and the man is busy designing a small boat.

The same can’t be said for landing the perfect jobette.. that still remains a work in progress, although I’m not losing any sleep over it. To be honest, I am not sure how I am going to fit it in!

Toppling over

There is something cathartic about blogging.

I am aware, however, that wearing my heart on my sleeve could be viewed by some as me being totally self absorbed.

If this is the case, then I make absolutely no apology for it. Why? Because this was never my intention.

The purpose of blogging was to clarify things as the man and I explored how to work less and live more. This was both for us and also for those of you who are interested in our journey.

I have also found blogging cheap therapy. You see, life doesn’t always pan out the way one thinks it should or would.  And writing about what happens makes sense of it. Go figure?

This week has been one of those weeks when nothing has panned out.

Firstly I got a thanks, but no thanks to the hospice job I was interviewed for. It was nicely couched, of course, but it still hurt as I really, really wanted it. I admit to being a bit sad for a day or so after getting this news, but then my pragmatic side kicked in and I re-framed it.  This was not failure, this was an opportunity.*

So for the last few days I have been thinking about ways to make a living without working for someone else. Now here are a few of my ideas (sharing is good):

I could start my own library. This sounded sensible as I know the business inside out, right? Sadly no.  This was never going to fly as public libraries are free, so even if I had enough stock, who in their right mind would pay to join my library? Except, of course, naughty people who can’t use the public library because they owe too many fines. Strangely, these people don’t seem  the ideal customer base for my proposed start up. The idea was shelved, no pun intended.

The next idea was to run an  0900  line (psychic or sex, I wasn’t fussed). I must admit that this wasn’t my own idea, I stole it from a book I read years ago. Anyway, it had immense appeal for two reasons. There would be no bad debts because of the 0900 number and no need to even leave the house in the morning. This idea was quickly discounted when I realised I would have no idea what to say to my customers, and if I did think of something I knew that the minute it was out of my mouth, I would giggle like a silly school girl. The ambiance of the occasion would be lost for ever and I would have a disappointed customer. There would be, I was sure, no repeat business. I canned the idea.

So, I got to the last idea.

I could make a living out of telling people how the man and I survived on diddly squat in semi-retirement, but still managed to live an amazingly happy and fulfilled life.  I was not sure how I was going to make a living from it, but it’s been done successfully before, albeit in different guises – the Destitute Gourmet cook books and the ‘Living on the smell of an oily rag’ book being two successful iterations of this theme. To date, it is the best option. More thought is needed.

Or maybe, I just look for that three day a week job after I have moved to Whangarei?** Watch this space.

Now the second thing not to pan out this week is that the buyer for our house has yet to materialise. The idea that he/she would magically appear as a result of the first open home was always just a dream, and I knew this from the get-go. Selling a home is stressful and it would be lovely if we could pre-empt weeks of open homes and bring the auction forward. Having said this, it is only day 4 and the first open homes did attract some interested parties, and the agents are bringing buyers through on a regular basis.

Which brings me to the beautiful house we saw on the internet in Whangarei. The man and I went to see it. It  was absolutely gorgeous and we loved it. We also probably aren’t going to buy it. You see, it is too isolated. And it’s on a main road. No matter, something else more suitable will turn up.

Now the last thing to happen this week was I was challenged (nicely) by a friend. Were the man and I doing the right thing leaving Auckland? Did we know that if we sell up and leave, it would be highly unlikely we would ever be able to afford to come back, she wisely pointed out. I looked at my dear friend and nodded as she was absolutely right. The answer is neither the man nor I know if we are doing the right thing. What we do know is we want to live a quieter life in a quieter place and we think it will work out. In fact, we will give it our best shot. If it doesn’t work out, then we will live with consequences. And although we may not be able to afford Auckland again, we can afford every other place in this beautiful land.

Change is never easy. Some days things fall into place; other days they don’t. I think this is normal.

 

*Thank God for those twee management courses!!

** I have decided that I need to be settled and then look for a job.

Write Up

In three recent blogs – BabysittingAnother chapter, and Dreams 2 – I have prattled on about finally fulfilling a dream and how proud I was to have completed it. A pretty amazing feat for someone who was an accomplished procrastinator, I thought! I also mentioned that I had handed it to a friend who works in a related area to see if I had created something of merit.

Today was the day of reckoning. I met the friend to discuss my manuscript. Strangely, I wasn’t at all nervous about what she was going to say. Good news or bad news,  I asked only for honesty from her. There is, after all,  absolutely nothing to be gained by being told half truths.

So what was the verdict? It was mixed. As I was writing for an audience that I have never written for before, I haven’t nailed the voice correctly. It is too ‘adult’. Fair enough. I certainly had reservations about some parts, and, interestingly, these were often the same parts that the friend zoomed in on when she  was discussing voice with me. There were a couple of continuity problems. This was no great surprise. I’d picked up some myself. This is no biggie and can be easily fixed. I have, however, apparently created a story that will appeal to the audience I was aiming for. Score! And I have got the characters’ dialogue pretty near right. This, I think, is a good beginning.

The good friend then proceeded to give me invaluable advice. I was given the names of two or three authors who write in the right voice for the audience I was aiming for. I have been provided with leads: a person who reads manuscripts for a publisher and a couple of literary organisations. I have also been given a date. It is 31 October. This is the day my manuscript has to be submitted to meet the deadline for a competition. The winning entry gets published. How awesome would that be?

I have work to do. The first thing I will do is read the authors that have been recommended. I will then begin the rewrite.

I never thought it would be easy. And it won’t be, but I am rapt that my ‘change of life baby’ has a smidgen of potential.

Thank you, JB, for your invaluable help and advice. I am indebted!

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