Here we are

Here we are

Not only have we finally moved in, but we’ve been here two weeks! My goodness, how time flies.

The move went about as smoothly as could be expected for a family with far too much stuff, five-year-old and 11-week-old boys, and a dog, and a cat to move. Actually, it went very well. Pixie (the cat) arrived around 10.30pm, just before Lindsay’s cousin Heidi & family (husband Allan, and daughter Grace) pulled in to stay for the weekend. Needless to say, Pixie spent a good chunk of the weekend under the house. But, the point is, she stayed, and once we had the house to ourselves, she settled in very well.

So one task of the first two weeks has been about getting used to the new school run (Just a 10-minute drive into town. A little heavier on gas than we’re used to, but just a small price to pay, really). There is a local school, but Josh only just started school in the last term of last year, and his friends from kindy go to the same one, so for now I can’t bring myself to swap him out. So far, he loves the move.

Another is getting used to hand-washing all dishes (the dishwasher went “poof”, with a puff of smoke, on the first night). My goodness, that is a time-sucker.

Allan got us all set up with a decent compost pile during his weekend here, all layers of grass, seaweed, shredded paper, leaves, pizza boxes, and lots and lots of water. Then that pile was all wrapped up in plastic and left to cook. Since then, I have been working on our day-to-day compost. I chuck our kitchen scraps in, obviously. But, we also use washable nappies for baby Gæbriel with liners to catch the worst of the mess. At our old house, we had the water pressure to rinse this down the sink. Not so here. And so, I’m prepared to find out how well the liners break down in the compost. Of course, as soon as I add such a layer, I go and collect a bucketful of pulled grass and dump that on top. It keeps the smell down as well as taking care of the needed green quotient. And I usually water the compost once a day, too. It really does feel a little bit like looking after a pet. A working pet, like a farm dog.

Speaking of working dogs, Lucy has been loving it here. She loves night times best of all, because that is when the possums are out. We’re fully supportive of her taking care of them. And stoats. I’d like to get her onto them, too. We just need to keep reminding her that the chickens are not on the list. She’s not too bad. And the peafowl can pretty well take care of themselves. They can be quite scary for a little dog.

Peahen and Peacock on the roofIn amongst the semi-routine that is breastfeeding a baby, changing nappies, and getting a baby to sleep, I’ve been finding my daily routine while still slowly unpacking boxes and finding/creating new homes for things. This is a process I’m excited about, as I’m keen for this house to be our home for a good long while, with the key there being the word “home”. We’ve lived in houses before, but this is our first home. Suddenly, I find myself wanting to put photos and artwork on the walls, and install shelves here, and here, to improve usability (not that there isn’t already great storage here, but it can be better).

And all the while, in the back of my head, is the long-term picture of what we want to do here. A Pony Playland. A place where the horses and ponies enjoy their lives and people can come and share in that. We’ll have a few other animals of interest, because, heck, ain’t no way we’re evicting the peafowl (No matter how Lindsay feels about them pooping on the decks). Plus, since it’s good to pasture rotate horses with other stock, I’m looking at some Highland cattle.

The great thing is that, while what we want to achieve is going to have significant setup costs, we don’t need to do it all at a top-notch, perfectly pristine kind of level. So, I’ve been collecting second-hand pony saddles, and a second-hand saddle blanket, and bridle, and some grooming gear. We managed to pick up our yearling Standardbreds for a great price, we just have to wait to ride them. And same goes for pony Diego. He was a good price, with a great deal of potential to earn his keep. He just won’t be able to do it in his first year, or two. So, we’re going to have a couple of tight years, but we will get there, and it will be grand.

So, this post is a “Hey, we’re really here and this is really happening post”. I’ll continue to post up “Meet The Crew” posts until we’ve covered all the special creatures here and to come, and I’ll share progress as it gets made.

We’ve got a huge list of things we want to do here, so I hope we can do them without too much struggle with Council or neighbours, or the elements, and I hope you’ll join us on our journey.

Originally published on our self-hosted website. Come join us there.


Meet the crew: Pixie

Meet the crew: Pixie

Pixie was the last of three girl kittens born to a cat that belonged to a friend of ours back in 2003. We were present as she emerged, tail first.

I picked her because she had one grey and white sister with all pink toes, one solid grey sister with all black toes, and Pixie was white and tabby with a mix of pink and black toes. She also had Continue reading “Meet the crew: Pixie”

OK. I’m excited again.

OK. I’m excited again.

What a roller-coaster.

Finally, our house sold so we could close the deal on the lifestyle block. Or, for simplicity’s sake, “the farm”–if 9.5 acres can be classed as a farm. Farmlet? Well, it’s probably as big a farm as I’ll ever manage, so it’ll do.

So, all those dreams I started having months back are possible, in one form or another. And after months of curtailing them just in case we missed out, I’m allowed the open the flood gates again; dreaming and making plans.

Strangely enough, it was slow going at first. I’d dulled my hopes regarding the farm all through having our current home on the market because, even though we had an accepted offer on the farm, there was always the chance that someone could come in with a better offer that didn’t rely on a house sale and all would be over. So, I trained myself not to dream, not to be excited.

Then everything went through, but it took another couple of weeks for it to sink in and for me to get excited again. And then I’ve been busy with a new baby, so that’s also curtailed my sharing here (time).

Our plans are developing.

We’ve been talking to people with more experience of living on the land; gathering contacts and collecting ideas. And I’m back to dreaming, which is super fun.

So watch this space. I’ll be sharing our plans from idea to fruition. From a native walk to a playground. From hay paddocks to horses. From kittens to the garden. We’re going to attempt to do it all.

Community Sharing and the Joy of Giving

At the end of last week I joined a Facebook group called Kai Care Dunedin (in Maori, kai means food).

The idea behind the group (not the first of its kind) is that people who have excess food can post what they have and someone in need can get in touch with them to arrange drop-off or collection. (It’s my understanding that there are similar groups run in other regions, and if your own region doesn’t have one, maybe you could set one up if you like the idea.)

As someone who’s (all going well…) about to get stuck into food growing, via a good-sized vege patch and some fruit trees, this idea excites me greatly. I love being able to help people… it alleviates any guilt I have about living my dream, especially as I know so many don’t and may never have the opportunity to live theirs. The least I can do is share mine where it’s wanted. So, with a big question mark over our successful purchase (we still have to get our house to market… we’re working our tails off to make it worth enough money to help us afford the one we want), and then a baby due to arrive, I realise I may not have a huge haul of vegetables and fruit this year, but there are future years, yet. And so I have joined this group with the future in mind. If I can get something growing this summer (all fingers crossed), I’ll be on that group’s wall sharing what I can.

Gardening in a greenhouse
My efforts at vege growing before our local wind destroyed my plastic green house

My excitement at even the potential possibility tells me something about myself… Continue reading “Community Sharing and the Joy of Giving”

Dunedin. What’s it got?

I know a lot of tourists to New Zealand either cap their travels at the North Island, or they venture south for the picturesque Central Otago or West Coast. Don’t get me wrong, they are stunning locations with a bunch of stuff to see and do. Those beautiful mountains, stunning waterfalls, ski fields, bungee jumping, and river rafting. They’re all there. It’s also worth remembering sunny Nelson with its great vibe, and local Saturday market. Kaikoura is also beautiful, and if you’re into whale watching it’s the place to go.

What about Dunedin? Why do I think it’s worth your while coming here? Well, gosh, where to begin?

For me personally, there are two big features that matter more than anything:
Continue reading “Dunedin. What’s it got?”

Hello world!

Well, we did it.

We made an offer on a slice of future paradise and our offer has been accepted (pending the sale of our current home, as this is a big financial deal for our family). So, there’s still a slim chance this could all fall through, but I hope not, and I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with you.

The place has a beauty all it’s own to begin with, but I mean it when I say “Watch this space”. I’ve got an extensive list of plans for the place, including planting fruit trees and a vege garden to feed our family and guests, and creating a New Zealand native pocket of paradise. The plan is to plant native trees, shrubs, etc that will in turn attract NZ birds, frogs, insects, and bees (non-native fully welcomed!). In amongst all that, I will indulge myself with a couple of miniature horses.

One of the first things we will do is offer our home to couch surfers. We look forward to hosting guests visiting Dunedin and hearing your travel stories.

Part of the longer term plan is to build a “Writer’s Retreat” cottage, with its own private garden, for guests who wish for a little peace and quiet to hire for short periods.

And, who knows? Maybe down the track someone will like to have their wedding at our home (conveniently situated across the road from a B&B, and only a 15-20 minute drive to the centre of Dunedin itself). I may even get signed up as a celebrant myself…

There’s a sizable deck, and my husband plays in a rock band, so I also envision a few concerts over the years… anyone want to bring a tent and camp out?

The property offers us a few challenges as owners (oooh, I love a challenge), with a few damp patches that we will work to either encompass into the overall plan (frog pond, mini wetland), or dry out as much as we can.

So… here is my dream. Join me on it…

Loose plan for garden and pasture
Here is a loose plan to begin with… although, I envision a much more intricate garden design as time allows.

Other plans include:

  • A walking/miniature horse carting track
  • A place for the horses to drink from the shallow creek where their hooves won’t chop it up (strengthening the ground and putting obstacles in their way in other places (rocks, thick shrubs…)
  • Hedging to reduce highway noise (yes, that road near the centre is State Highway 1). We’ve lived by it for years without the benefit of a slice of paradise.