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Visitors welcome!

Over the first 8 days or so of moving to Rotorua we were graced with visits from three family groups, ranging in age from pre-school, teenage, through to mature adults. It was great to see these families from Auckland and to have the sense that relationships can carry on, even if we do not see each other as often or share activities together so much. We enjoyed showing people around and sharing a bit about our hopes for this place. We also enjoyed, time around the table over a cuppa and some food. We do want to value the relationships which are established and look forward to new ones developing.

As we walked the grounds, weather permitting, a tradition was set. Families were invited to take what they wanted from the citrus trees which have ripening fruit. Bags and pockets were filled. Some of the mandarins didn’t last long! Actually, I’m (Kevin) aware that giving fruit away is also self-serving because there’s plenty here now and there’s the promise of much more to come, so it helps us out because we’d hate to see it get wasted :-).

So, yes we want people to come and visit. In months to come there will be 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and 2 lounges spare which give space for for people to stay in. There’s also turn around space for holiday homes. Basically, we’re saying that loving relationships and generosity are two of the building blocks in our lives going forward.

Arohanui,

Kevin & Miranda

Featured

Settling in!

Here’s something humorous to get things started. How we marked our territory after moving in. Xara (Beagle), by weeing on the carpet in any room she could get into – this went on for about 3 days! Effie (the cat) by curling up in a tight ball in strange places and then refusing to go outside even when she was allowed to. She has now claimed her rightful place on the mat in front of the fire. Miranda by cleaning down the walls – incessantly (open wood lockwood style home, so lots of grooves to hold dust)! Also, by positioning and re-positioning pictures on walls and pretty things on shelves. Kevin, by getting some plants and putting them into the garden even though it is mid-winter and they’re not going to grow much for 6 weeks (also garlic and shallots -Charlottes – have gone in and its the right time for them). Getting the chainsaw going and cutting something down helped a lot too :-).

So, here we are and after a week we’re beginning to feel more settled. not sure yet whether it feels like a “holiday” home or “our” home.

Go well

Kevin, Miranda, Xara & Effie.

Does there always have to be a happy ending?

The stories of the goats some time ago were all true.  Thus far it has a happy ending.  Having them settled, but being down two of the initial chooks we got in winter, we remembered that the guy who sold us the goats, also offered us chooks.  Going back to the place we got runaway goats from, how stupid can we be, you can anticipate trouble – right?!

‘Do you want some young or older ones?’  ‘We’ll take a couple of young ones’ thanks.’  The young ones were just past being cute chickens, a few months off laying.  As we were about to find out they were quite unused to human contact and capable of immense speed over short distances.  We took two, but just like with the goats, we weren’t ready to house them.  We created a temporary home for them which we thought was secure, but quickly one got out and hid herself under the raspberry bushes.  Later the other one got out and so we had two, flighty, runaway birds in the thicket of raspberries.  We would leave food for them which they would gratefully eat, but we couldn’t get close enough to catch them.  So, Miranda shooed them to one end of the berries, while I waited with the fishing net.  In a flurry, down came the net and I thought I had them both.  Sadly, I had only only one which went into a cat-cage – she wasn’t getting out of there!  The thought was that the other would stay close and eventually we’d get her too.  Sadly no.   After a day or so the runaway chook disappeared.  Hopefully she made it to some other free-range hens nearby.  We couldn’t leave the one we still had constrained in the cat-box forever, so we tried introducing her to the big hens – bad move! We had to keep them in one place and she had roaming rights in the berry garden.  Even though she could fly out of it, now she knew we’d be along to feed her morning and night, she wasn’t going far. 

Then, one day we saw her out in the paddock with the animals.  Dinner time: picture a little hen dodging goat, pig and sheep hooves; trying to get some of the food they were eating.  At night, she decided to sleep in with the animals.  Even though its called a “pigsty” – 2 sheep, 2 goats and Percy the pig slept in it.  Now also one little hen.  The picture was indeed very cute for a few days.  Little hen believed she was every-bit an equal of these much bigger mammals.

So, does there always have to be a happy ending? Tolkien, Grisham, Picoult, the Bible, what’s with our infatuation with happy endings?

Bok Choy/ Pak Choi Joy,

New Year greetings!  We hope you have had a good Christmas and are now enjoying a bit of a holiday!

We’ve been thinking about the last year and what changes have occurred for us.  When we set out on holiday a year ago, our minds were pretty much made up that 2019 was the year for us to move.  The question was: at what point in the year?  As we travelled we spoke with different family members.  Some were chance meetings with people we’d not seen for years.  Some, had already made the choice to move themselves to what might have been unexpected places and to unexpected things; some were in the midst of doing so.  Although, we’d been planning on this for a while, the process was not going to be easy, and the timing would not be ideal.  However, one message came through loud and clear: ‘you can’t put your life on hold while you wait for it to be the right time. If its time for you, then do it!’ When we returned from holiday, we set into motion the plan to move in the middle of the year. 

An image sums up our experience, especially in the last six months.  A few days ago I went out to weed around some beetroot plants. Before planting them I had cleared out one of the compost bins and had mixed the compost into the area for planting.  Now there was a mat of weeds which were rapidly overtaking the beetroot.  However, when we looked more closely they were not weeds but small Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage) plants. The seeds were in the compost, just waiting for the right moment to germinate.  I got a container and in no time, filled it and we had a surprise Bok Choi micro-green feast at lunch time.  What we didn’t eat, Percy the pig devoured. 

This to me sums up, at least a portion of this year.  It has been full of the unexpected.  The place we moved to has been steadily revealing itself to us, and often there have been unexpected surprises along the way.  The Rotorua region has also been like this for us, as we see different things we hadn’t noticed before.  The relationships we are forming and re-forming also have aspects of surprise and delight. 

We were married in Rotorua many years ago and since then have lived in seven different cities or towns.  This is not to say anything negative about any of the places we’ve lived in between.  It is also not to say that its all easy going.  It is, to say that we are in a time and space where we can appreciate and enjoy the provision and be staggered at the difference this move had made in our lives.

Keep safe, and have a good 2020!

Kevin & Miranda.  

 

Perspectives

Perspectives.

A couple of weeks ago we got our first colony of bees! They settled quickly and got on with exploring the area for good flowers.  They especially seem to enjoy the poppy flowers which have self-seeded everywhere.  Hmmm opium honey, that might prove popular? We checked the hive for the first time over the weekend and the colony is doing well.

One of the things we have been instructed on is how to look out for the American Foul Brood (AFB).  If this gets into a hive un-checked, it will destroy it and the disease will spread to other hives.  Some years ago, a neighbour of ours found AFB in a hive she had.  It was devastating!  The whole hive had to be destroyed by burning.  It nearly made her give up beekeeping, such was the trauma of having to exterminate a whole colony!  Having AFB in a hive is terminally bad for the hive, but finding it early, before it has spread to other hives is really good.  If you find it through vigilant observation, then you are a good beekeeper, not a bad one.  As this was explained, my perspective changed.  It is the poor beekeeper who turns up to a hive only to find it completely destroyed.  I knew our neighbour was a good beekeeper, she knew that catching it early is the key.  Elimination of AFB in the country is the goal.  

In an instant I saw disease detection in hives differently.  I then thought about my vain efforts to catch mice and rats.  I have been vigilant with checking, re-baiting and moving the traps around.  Am I a bad trapper?  Possibly, but a different view is that catching no rats or mice tells me something – maybe there aren’t a great number around, or maybe none at all? Certainly since Effie (the cat) realized that mice were for eating not bringing inside and playing with – nothing!  The only rat we’ve seen was dead already – could Effie have killed that?

Again, the key for me is to remain open to learning and to allow new information to shift my thinking.

Arohanui

Kevin & Miranda?

bty

Providence

Providence.

I am not a great believer in what might be called providence.  At a wedding one might hear word’s like: “what a blessing it is to have a fine day for our wedding”.  What does that mean for a couple who happened to have rain on theirs? Are they cursed?  When one family is praying for a fine day in summer, another will probably be praying for rain for their dry farmland.

A classic example of this happened recently.  When searching for the lost goat (previous blog) I got talking to a neighbour about a fire they had lit and found out, that regardless of the weather conditions, at this time of the year you have to get a permit to light a fire.  I wanted to burn a whole lot of branch prunings which had been left by the previous owner (too much for mulching).  So, I duly got a fire permit and on the day I set aside to have a burn off, the weather was absolutely still.  Even in the middle of the afternoon, there was only the slightest breeze.  It has been a typically windy spring season, so, although it was a very hot day for working near a fire, the conditions were perfect.  By the end of the day it was done!  The fire burned hot and clean.  The only smoke was created when Miranda threw some damp material on it late in the afternoon as a welcome home present for our neighbours.

Now, we were very thankful for the gap in the weather to get this job done, however, was I being especially provided for? Was I being blessed? The reason for the unnaturally hot weather was because the weather flow was coming across from Australia.  What has been/ is the big issue for New south Wales and Queensland? Out of control fires, fuelled by unusually hot weather. So, if I am blessed, are they cursed? Does God love me, but not Australians? Does God hear my spoken, or unspoken prayers but ignore theirs? You get the point.  I don’t have a resolution for this issue.

The hot embers took days to cool.  I would rake them over in the evenings and it would be red hot underneath.  Now the paddock has three sheep in it who arrived yesterday.  I am very happy that the fire was completed before they arrived.  Apart from one incident when the goats got into the chook-shed and did some damage, all is calm with them too. 

Arohanui

Kevin & Miranda. “

dav

Goat-proof fence.

Learning experiences continue.

Without any lawnmowers in our small paddocks the grass grew rapidly through early spring.  The arrival of 3 wether, weaned lambs was delayed and so, two weeks ago, as a start to reducing the grass we got a couple of young goats.  People had told us that goats were trouble, but we had this idyllic view of these cute animals occupying the paddocks.  We strengthened some fencing before we got them.  Although a bit scaredy, for the whole of the first week, they stayed inside the fence. Then, last Saturday, they got out.  We found them over on the boundary in the orchard and promptly guided them back to their home.  I did some further improvements to the fence and left them for the night. 

On Sunday morning they were out again.  This time they were over the boundary on the neighbour’s property.   This neighbour’s house sits within their paddock. Half an hour before leaving for church, there we were chasing these goats round and round their house.  Fortunately, they were away!  We had to leave the goats there.  Arriving back mid-afternoon, we saw these goats sprawled over the neighbour’s out-door furniture on their deck.  Again, we try to catch them, in their garden, around their spa-pool, behind their sheds – no chance.  These goats are part Boer (a South African meat breed), no one told us they were also part antelope!  Eventually we got them back to the boundary and both of them decide to push through the fence.  Whew, they are home!  I thought one had gone into the vegetable garden and so we guided the other in that direction and into the home paddock.  However, by the time we got one there, the other had disappeared off the face of the earth.  We looked for her everywhere.  We asked other neighbours – no sign of her. 

The next day, the remaining goat jumped the fence and took up residence up by our cottage.  If I put water out for her by the front it would go round the back – through the dog-proof fence – and if I gave it water round the back… it would go round the front!  There it remained.  I put notes in letterboxes and it was posted on a local Facebook page, admitting to the neighbourhood we’d lost a goat.  We waited.  No word.  Then, early Tuesday morning there was a call: ‘there’s a little goat in my garden’ – two properties away.  We got over there asap and found her trampling some corn seedlings.  She took off away from us and behind a garden shed and got stuck in-between it and a fence.  The age of miracles is not over! 

Rescued, we put her back into the paddock.  She promptly jumped the fence and joined her mate up at the cottage.  There they stayed for the day (going through the dog-proof fence at will to avoid me).  I had ordered a multi-wired fence with a solar powered energiser to make it an electric fence.    I was able to pick it up during the day and set up a circle of fencing around their shelter.  Then we had to get them from the cottage to the paddock and secured inside the electric fence.  We made a barricade with cars, rubbish bins, a set of shelving and some bird netting.  We positioned Xara (Beagle dog) to try to put them off going down one lane, and we gently moved them. Perfect! They slipped reasonable quietly into the vege garden and then into the paddock.  The fence got electrified and we had them! 

And … nearly a week later … its working.  They don’t like the fence at all and even though they can jump it, (don’t tell them that) they don’t want to.  Like children feel safe within boundaries – these goats have settled down.  They are eating the grass down in their area now.  We are also trying to befriend them by feeding them stock pellets each day, which they love. 

It has been extremely stressful, sometimes you can only laugh in hindsight.  The wether-lambs arrive in a week’s time.  We’ll work that out when they arrive.  

Absolutism

I have not run out of ideas nor energy for blogs, but have been very busy over recent days and tired at nights, so have been a bit blog-quiet over October.

Something, has been on my mind which is time specific, so needs to be done now. With Labour Weekend coming, an old adage has been on my mind.  “Labour weekend is when you plant your vege garden”.  Some people are quite emphatic about it and the garden stores play on it.  However, in the same places where “plant your vege garden on Labour Weekend” is heard, there is another view.  If you do, then a lot of your veges are ripening in January when watering is needed, pests are most active and, often people are away on holiday, so lots of veg is wasted.  

Certainly, planting on Labour Weekend has some merit.  In places where gardens are put to bed and rested over winter, then it would be a good plan to get the garden ready for seed and seedling planting, this weekend.  I like the idea of not pushing the ground too hard and giving it time to rest.  Also, some of the things which I planted a while ago have not done well.  I have corn up, but its not growing very fast.  If I plant some this weekend it might be ready at about the same time as what was planted a month ago.

Some things you might not yet plant because the weather is not warm enough.  It angers me, leading to a rant every year, that plant shops have tomato and pepper seedlings on sale right through October.  I still think its too cold for these to really grow well outside, and so, mid-November might be better.  Also, if you work to the “Labour Weekend rule”, then you don’t grow your own garlic, yams, and other plants which are planted in winter.  So, the “Labour Weekend rule” is arbitrary and, for some plantings, unhelpful.

Reflecting on arbitrary/ absolute views in life, I wonder, if people who live by a set of arbitrary views do so as a way of putting boundaries around life (like separating winter from summer)?  Living by a set of rules can simplify life, making it easier to be clear on what is right and wrong, and helping with decisions.  We can hold hard views on such things as abortion, euthanasia, care of the elderly, race, immigration, employment and sexuality.  

I have some things which I am quite arbitrary about. However, in a recent conversation a person was very strong on an issue which I saw quite differently.  While I was quietly formulating a response to their view, they carried on talking and told some of their story which led to their hard-line.  This helped understanding.

Certainly, we can’t go through life without some core views.  Maybe one of those might be that we should not hold onto those things we regard as absolute too tightly?  Maybe, everything needs to be open to question – but that’s being arbitrary.

Go the All Blacks!

Kevin

Thankfulness

The practice of thankfulness is a part of both the phenomenon of Mindfulness and practices in Christian faith.  Each night I try to think of three things I (Kevin) am thankful for from the day.  Usually I fall asleep somewhere between one and two, but at least the intent is there.  Here are some things we have noted recently and are thankful for.  

There were some things which were expected in moving to Rotorua.  At least 20 cents a litre less for petrol was one.  Last week when the news reported petrol prices jumping up overnight, most prices remained pretty much the same.  Also, when traffic’s heavy for Miranda to get to work, it maybe takes 12 minutes not 10 to get there.  There is a petition circulating, calling for the road to be widened.  Such traffic congestion is unacceptable! 

There are things which have been more unexpected.  When we booked the materials for a perimeter fence to close off an area so Xara could have a place to go off leash, after four of the team at the trade centre had all attempted to get their heads around the job so we could be sure we had all we needed, we held our breath to ask about how much the delivery would be? $40.00!  To get a delivery from the local hardware store to our home in Auckland (1500 metres) cost a minimum of $70.00, but here the charge was $40.00 to deliver 14km’s!   Then, when they realised they were a panel short, they delivered anyway and brought the last piece out another day – no extra cost.

Recently, we decided to go with a self-propelled lawnmower rather than a ride-on, or paying a contractor to mow the lawns for us.  Once a beast of a machine was decided on, the question was, how will it get to our place? It was far too big for the boot of our car.  I broached it with the lawn-mower shop owner, who said, ‘we’re heading out your way on Saturday, we’ll drop it round and give you a demo’ – no cost!

We also attended our first live show, a matinee one a Sunday.  It was something worthy of $80.00 per person in Auckland, but it was $25.00 each.  Parking was free, the only extra costs was for fish and chips on the way home.   

Lastly, there’s no worry finding a post-box to post snail mail into.  Being on rural delivery, they pick up our mail for delivery – and they are out here 6 days a week!  

It’s not all plain sailing.  The first time Xara was let loose in her off leash zone

 she got out and went to say hello to some pig dogs next door.  Also, this week we have experienced just how severe a cold blast from the south-west feels and things still seem to take longer than expected.  However, right now we’re feeling very thankful.

Nga mihi nui

Kevin & Miranda.

The Mice Saga

The last blog “Dilemmas” was broadly about taking care of the world we are given, but in doing so decisions have to be made which play off against each other.  Chopping down a tree reduces the amount of living green matter which produces oxygen.  However, it does give other plants a chance to be healthier…

In terms of faith, in the creation narrative in the book of Genesis, God gave people “dominion” over creation.  Dominion has been mistaken as domination and, from the vantage point of the present we can look back at the way much damage has been done to the creation as people have dominated their world.  Today, hopefully followers within Judeo-Christian traditions are at the forefront of conservation efforts taking seriously that people do have dominion and with that comes a responsibility of care.  This is conservation week and so hopefully we can all plant a tree, pick up some rubbish or do something this week which is good for the environment.   I planted some celery – does that count? 

This mouse story is related to caring for creation – somehow.  One philosophy is that everything has its place and that we have to learn to co-exist with all of creation.  Sounds ok – maybe.  How about mice? To the mouse I say ‘you can exist, but NIMBY (not in my back yard).’  Actually, its alright to live in the back yard, but not in the house or in the garage!   Firstly, we had mouse poo in the kitchen cupboards.  For several nights we put peanut butter onto 2 standard traps and each morning the peanut butter was gone.  Sometimes the trap had been sprung, but at other times the tasty treat had been consumed without setting the trap off.  Eventually, we got one mouse and that has stopped the deposits of poo – at the moment. 

Next, out in the garage we noticed that holes were being chewed in fertiliser bags and different fertilizers were being spread all over the place.  Again, night after night, peanut butter was taken and no mice were caught – did catch half a tail one night.  So, the humble field mouse has evolved sufficiently to know how to get the food and avoid being killed in a mouse trap.  Did I do the sensible “co-exist” thing and put the fertiliser into containers so the mice couldn’t get to it? NO! I wanted those mice dead. 

Enter Effie the cat.  She has now learned what cat-flaps are used for and so she comes and goes as she pleases.  Great – except, she found a nest of mice and started bringing them in.  Maybe one died from exhaustion, but she’s not interested in killing; it’s a play thing and a friend.  She’s had a ball, putting them down, letting them run a bit then catching them again.  Picture also, Xara the Beagle trying to catch it in her mouth as a snack and me trying to urge Effie to take it outside, then trying to contain it and remove it outside.  There have been a number of episodes which would have gone viral on youtube, if had they been recorded.    

A week on from getting two predator traps designed to catch rats, but sensitive enough to catch mice, one mouse has been caught, but otherwise, every couple of days or so, guess what? The peanut butter has gone! The mice are seriously winning this tussle!  It is interesting that the care of creation, involves the attempted extermination of harmful predators (which are a part of creation) to save other plants and animals.  Its a good thing we have a constant supply of peanut butter in the house.  

Arohanui (but not to mice)

Kevin.    

Dilemmas

I want to treat a serious issue in a somewhat humorous way.  Early on in our stay here we took out a good number of big overhanging branches and even a few trees.  This is not on the scale of forest fires in Brazil, but chopping trees down is a bad thing, alongside driving a petrol or diesel powered car or having cows.  There are now less trees for oxygen creating photosynthesis, the “lungs of the earth” have been dimished! So, I have been feeling a little guilty, even though the space created by opening up will give more light for other plants to thrive.   Planting some blueberry bushes does not nearly compensate for the destruction.  I almost volunteered for a programme which is re-establishing a wetland in Hannah’s Bay, before I found out it was a youth programme – how agist!

Pieces of wood from the cut down trees, over about 3cms in diameter are being cut for firewood.   We save on electricity usage next winter – so that’s a bit like having solar panels.  Our fireplace is efficient giving off little smoke pollution and the ash remaining is used for fertiliser.  Reduce consumption and re-use, that’s a tick – right?

Reduce waste is another plus right? We had the best part of a day with a chipper and chipped all the small waste wood in the orchard.  Chipping is good right? But, the chipper is made of manufactured steel and it had to be towed here, using a petrol powered vehicle.  It ran on petrol and it created a great deal of noise pollution.  Still, the wood chip will be great in the hen house, under the trees as a weed suppressant and will eventually break down to feed the earth – that’s good. 

We have re-used, recycled, re-purposed, and reduced what had become waste, but still the dilemma remains, should those trees have come down and if so, should we not have left it to nature to break them down naturally over time?       

In another save the planet type initiative, we have become members of a trap library as a part of a pest free scheme on the eastern side of Rotorua.  We got 2 free predator traps which are designed to catch rats, but which do the job on mice and stoats as well we are told.  I did have to drive the car to get them though. We’ll let you know how that goes – maybe without photos of dead rats?  There is another story about mice – but that’s for another time.   

Kathleen (Kevin’s sister) & Bruce Gavin & Miranda.