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skiddingtowardsretirement

semi-retiring, work life balance, lifestyle block living

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lifestyle blocks

Olives

When we moved onto the land we were delighted to discover that there were six rather straggly olive trees growing beyond the shelter belt on our property.

I would like to say that from the get-go we harvested and processed the crop in the true spirit of self-sufficiency. This, however, would be totally untrue. The first year they fruited, we did absolutely nothing with the olives.

We have since worked on our attitudes and each year we pick enough fruit for about a dozen and a half jars of olives*. This meets our household’s olive-eating needs, with enough jars left over to gift to family and friends. Perfect.

After harvesting this year, the man decided to finally sort out the trees which had become way too tall. He consulted Mr Google and then with possibly misguided confidence, he reduced their height. We are pleased with the result:

The crop next year, however, will be the true measure of whether his pruning efforts were a success or not! Fingers crossed.

*I use a very simple brine recipe from ‘ The spruce eats’ (https://www.thespruceeats.com/brining-and-curing-olives-1808582.) I leave the stones in and haven’t tried stuffing the olives to date.

Our olives in brine – the evidence!

New Life – 3 months in

It’s three months ago today that the man and I closed the door on life in the Big Smoke and headed North to a quieter existence.

Since we have been here we may be living a quieter life, but we are way busier. A contradiction, I know, but let me explain. It is quieter because not only do we not have constant traffic 24/7 assaulting our senses, we have the luxury of being able to pace ourselves. You see, each day we choose what we do, rather than follow the regime that comes with working an 8 to 5 job.

Today for example we are having a burn off, but not before our new-to-us Massey Ferguson tractor hauls a few branches from a fallen tree to add to the fire pile. Son Number 1 has volunteered to do this job because although it’s work, it’s fun and he knows he’ll have a blast.

tractor 1.jpg

After the logs have been added to the pile,  we will move the sheep from that paddock  before lighting the fire. Transferring the sheep should be straight forward. Except sometimes it isn’t and we are slightly wary of the exercise: the last time we moved the sheep, one bugger made a break for it and managed to get herself through the fence into the neighbouring farm.

This was beyond us. We rung Karl who owns the sheep. Is it a lamb, he asked? No, we replied, it’s a sheep. Well, you won’t catch it as they are bloody fast, he said. I’ll ring the other farmer and let him know our sheep is in his paddock. And he hung up.

Remember this is Whangarei time – nothing happens fast. Ever. For the next week, we watched the rogue sheep shadowing her mates in our paddock, occasionally giving a plaintive bleat to remind us she was lost.

One day we came home to find we were back to full quota in our paddocks. The sheep had returned.  Turns out the neighbouring farmer had rounded her up into a pen (think dogs and quad bikes here). Once this was done, all  Karl had to do was to get her from the pen back into our paddock. Easy as, right? Actually no. The sheep made one more bid for freedom, but this time round she had met her match. Farmer 1, sheep 0.

Anyway today there were no escaping sheep. They did exactly as we wanted. The MF has done its job and I can smell the smoke of the fire pile. In the background the chainsaw can be heard as the man and son No. 1 get stuck into some more fallen branches which will be destined for the wood pile or burn off.

As for me, once I have finished this blog, I’ve a house to clean up and some baking to do as we have guests this weekend.  In fact, most weekends we have family or friends pop by.

Life in the country. It’s beaut.

Not sure how I am going to fit that paying jobette in though?

New Life – Week 7 – Going down the gurgler

Using the washing machine or dishwasher, taking a shower, or flushing the loo* are things that most of us take for granted. And this is exactly what the man and I did until very recently when things went awry.

The first sign of things going pear-shaped was a strange smell. At first we thought it was the particularly fragrant aroma of the septic tank, but further detective work found the stench was water in the kitchen gully trap that had not drained away in a timely fashion.

We decided we’d have to be more careful with what went down the sink, so instituted the  sieve regime. Everything that was being rinsed under the kitchen tap had a large, fine sieve strategically positioned to catch every skerrick of food. Yes, there would be no more scraps clogging our fragile septic tank system!

This worked well. Or at least it worked well until we had multitudinous guests to stay one weekend. Water consumption rocketed.  And eventually, we had an overflow onto the lawn (no pictures provided – use your imagination!). Luckily, it was fairly minor, and the spillage was easily cleaned up.

The man and I then rang a septic tank cleaning company to come ASAP. ASAP turned out to be the following day.  In the meantime, we texted the former owners inquiring when the septic tank had last been emptied. They replied promptly and said it had been dealt to within the last year or so.

Odd, we thought, a septic should not need emptying yearly. Our grey matters spun into action: perhaps it was a blockage in the drain rather than septic tank brimming to overflowing then? We did an internet search. This latest idea was a match to the symptoms our drains were exhibiting.

The man and I cancelled the septic cleaning company. We then followed the advice on the internet and into our drain poured copious amounts of Draino, a potion that bubbled a bit like a mini witch’s cauldron as it worked its magic on blockages.

And low and behold, the drain was sorted. Emergency over!

Except it wasn’t. The minute we had extra folk staying again, our septic system reverted to form: it backed up and water threateningly lapped the top of  the gully traps.

Today we booked in the septic tank cleaning company.**If it works in sorting out the issue, we think it will be the best $395 we have ever spent.

If not, back to square one!

*  I read today that the term ‘toilet’ is not used by the Royal Family,  instead loo is the acceptable term in politer circles, so loo it is from now on!

** The Bog Doc says that they cleaned our tank almost 2 years ago. 2 years between emptying would be about right, depending on how many people lived in the house (the more people, the more often a tank needs emptying). We have fingers crossed that the former owners gave us the wrong answer and didn’t just use another company to do the deed last year. If it was done last year, there is every possibility that there is a blockage somewhere between the house and the actual tank.

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