Friday, 28 October 2011

Days 39 and 40

Thursday morning Heather and I spent, once again, painting in the house.  We painted the ceiling of the dining area and put on the first coat of paint on the walls.  Heather also did some patching in the hallway to the laundry room.  After lunch, the weather was beautiful so we decided to work outside and attempt to build the rock walls for the remaining five garden plots.  After gathering lots of rocks and mixing up a pail of mortar we started building the wall - FAIL.  Mortar just does not seem to stick to rocks like it does to bricks.  Somehow we managed to get a section of about 18 inches long and 6 inches high to stick together but we had to brace it up with 1 x 6 boards.  Frustrated, we left it to dry and wait to see if Mike had any good ideas that would help us out.  I was too embarrassed to take a picture!  If we are ever successful, I'll take a picture of that!

This was Romeo's second day out of his enclosure and he followed us all over the yard.  He even let me pet him and Heather was quick to get a picture.

Roo, the rooster, was out in the yard at the same time as Romeo.  They did have one altercation, but I was able to push Roo away with the handle of a rake.  Once separated, they went their separate ways and spent the rest of the day exploring the pine forest and digging for bugs.

Heather has a very small tree that has just bloomed with small purple flowers.  She says it is a California lilac, but I have never seen a tree/blossom like this before.  Has anyone else?

About two weeks ago I posted a picture of the grape vine that grows up the post of the porch on the Wee Mansion.  It was just starting to sprout new leaves, and here is how it looked then.

And here is how it looks today.

There really are tiny bunches of grapes, but you really have to look hard to see them.

Friday morning Heather and I put on the second coat of paint on the walls of the dining room.  After lunch Simone came over to help with the painting.  We primed the walls and ceiling of the entry way, the trim around the front door, and the wall going up the stairway.  Thanks Simone!

Tomorrow I think we are going to concentrate on getting all the trim around windows and doors done, and maybe even paint some doors, too.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Day 38

Mike was able to work from home today, so we started the day finishing off the painting in the dining area.  The skylights I could not reach even on the scaffold, so Mike painted them while Heather stood on the top step of the ladder and finished the ceiling and I finished the second coat of paint on the walls.

One of the lasers Mike uses at work needs repair, so they brought it out here and he went to work on it in the workshop/garage.  Heather and I tackled the dining area and we finished the ceiling and the first coat of paint on the walls.

After lunch Heather went off to purchase a whole list of items needed for the yard and tomorrow we are going to attempt to build stone and mortar walls to enclose the next five garden plots.  Neither of us has ever done this before so it should be fun!

One of the chickens, Charlie, has gone broody so Heather put her in the chicken run with a dozen fertilized eggs.  If all goes well we should have a dozen little chicks in three weeks!

We have rabbits and hares living in the woods on the west side of the property and every morning I see one of the hares nibbling on grass around the orchard.  I got a picture of the one of the hares, but this is the smaller one, maybe the female.  The other hare is huge (I assume the male) and when he runs down the driveway he looks like a big dog!  Here is the smaller one.

Most of the trees in the orchard have dropped their blossoms and if you look closely below, you can see plums starting to grow on one of the plum trees!

Heather says there are grapes on the grapevine but I don't have a picture of that yet.  Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Day 37

Mike went back to work today and since it was threatening rain, Heather and I decided to spend the day inside painting.  We painted the ceiling of the living room and then put on the first coat of paint on the walls.  Here is Heather up on the ladder.

Bromley has completed 20 days of sitting on her eggs.  Just 8 days to go and we should have little turkeys!  Bexley continues to sit on her eggs.  She is a week behind Bromley.  And now Brighton is sitting on a clutch of eggs in another brush pile in the yard.  She is only a few day into the 28 day hatching cycle.  Here is a picture of Brighton's back and tail.  Her head is hidden under the brush.

Two of the new female turkeys are also sitting on a clutch of eggs in the turkey enclosure.  We got three female turkeys along with Romeo.  Two of them are white and one is brown like the three turkeys Heather already had.  Here is a picture of one of the white ones (not named yet) and the brown one, Desdemona, sharing their nest.  Desdemona has her head hidden under the other turkey's wing.

So we have four clutches of turkey eggs.  If all of them hatch and the poults live, we will have about 2 dozen little turkeys!  Not bad for the first year of our turkey farm!

Sadly, we have no broody chickens so even though we have a rooster for them to produce fertilized eggs, none of them want to sit on the eggs and hatch them.  Maybe when the weather warms up more.

Big day tomorrow trying to keep up with Mike : )  so I'm going to bed!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Days 35 and 36

Sunday Heather and I decided to take it easy.  But Mike, the Energizer Bunny, was busy all day.  Most of the morning was spent on a contract job that he has to finish and then in the late afternoon he decided to finish the primer coat in the living room.  Here is a picture of him up on the scaffolding doing his thing with the sky lights.

And here is the living room all primed and ready for paint.

Heather has brought it to my attention that in my original post I forgot to mention that the ALL BLACKS WON THE WORLD RUGBY CUP!!  

Today, Monday, is Labour Day in New Zealand so Mike was able to stay home and work on the house.  The solar hot water man came and worked on the installation, but he didn't have all the parts he needed so he will be back in a couple of weeks to complete the work.  Here is a picture of the frame for the collection tubes mounted on the lower roof.

It was a bright and beautiful day and Mike dug the post hole and mounted the post for the gate on the turkey enclosure.  We have kept the new turkeys in the enclosure since they arrived a couple of weeks ago, so they will think of it as home and return to it each night.  Today was the first day they were out in the yard.  Here is a video of Romeo and Heather.

Romeo is very tame and lets Heather pet him.  He even let me pet him once today.  But most of the day he spent next to the house showing off his plumage to a his own reflection in one of the glass doors to the garage.  I'm not sure if he thought it was another turkey, or if he was just admiring himself!

Heather was not feeling well - upset stomach.  I hope it's not stomach flu : (
I managed to get a little work done.  I got the first coat of paint on the window and door trim in the upstairs bedroom and then in the afternoon planted the zucchini plants.  Tomorrow we start painting the living and dining rooms.  Big job!

Things You Probably Won't See in Your Neighborhood

This post is mostly for my American friends and family, or others who live in or near a city.  Country life in New Zealand is awesome.  Here are some things we see regularly right here in our "neighborhood".

Alpacas live on Isaac Road

Shetland ponies 

Romeo, our male turkey

Three female turkeys (raised by chickens) - not as impressive as the male

Of course, sheep everywhere you go

A house in the middle of a pine forest

Polite truckers!

Sheep in the neighbor's back yard

Broom - a plant that grows wild along the roadways

A cast-iron bathtub in the back yard, heated by an open fire

The blossom of the kaka-beak plant

1993 Toyota Starlet

No, not a palm tree, it's a cabbage tree

Toi-toi plants

1983 four-wheel drive Isuzu Big Horn

Heat source for next winter

The bucket loo - we call it an out house

A newsletter from your postie (mail carrier)

That's all for now. I'll post more pictures as I collect them!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Day 34 - The Kitchen Arrives

Saturday morning Mike and Heather headed into Christchurch to meet up with Kylie and Simone who are going to help them load up the kitchen components and bring them out to the house.  I stayed at the house and painted the second coat on the upstairs bedroom.  When done with that I started priming the living room area around the log burner.  But before I got too far, they were back with the kitchen loaded on two trailers and Mike's work van.  Here is a picture of them unloading one of the bigger pieces, a corner pantry.

Lots and lots of smaller pieces.

And then they began arranging where everything would go.

And of course Heather has the final say on all things kitchen : )

Once the entire kitchen is installed, we'll be able to tile the floor.  More pictures to come.

Days 31, 32, and 33

We are now done with painting the kitchen and waiting for Saturday when Mike will pick up the components of the kitchen and begin installation.  

Wednesday was shopping and errand day.  Heather had to take her car in to the dealership to get her WOF (Warrant of Fitness).  Cars are inspected every 6 months for road worthiness and then given the Warrant of Fitness.  If anything is wrong with the car it has to be fixed or you don't get the WOF.  If you drive without a current WOF and get stopped by a policeman, you get fined.  So on our way to the dealer we stopped and took some pictures.  Here is an update on the lambs across the road.  They are still small and very cute, but they are growing.

Thursday afternoon Heather and I drove into to Christchurch to pick up a few things and then meet Mike at his parents' house for dinner.  We drove past the cordon fences around downtown Christchurch.

Some of the fences had flowers hanging on them, I assume in memory of those who died in the February quake.

Avonside was one of the neighborhoods that was seriously damaged, not just houses but roads and bridges as well.  One side of one stretch of road just collapsed and it is just now being repaired.

A pedestrian bridge remains crumpled.

And many of the roads remain unrepaired.  Most of the houses are vacant, but apparently some are inhabited as there are still portable toilets along the road for residents to use.  It appears that the sewage system in this area is still not repaired.  This area is within a mile of Mike's parents' house.

Friday Mike had scheduled an inspection for the drainage system, the log burner and the solar hot water system.  All systems were approved!  Yeah!

Friday morning Mike and I moved everything out of the bedroom I am staying in and I painted the ceiling.  Then Heather came up and she and I put on the first coat of paint.  Then we headed downstairs to finish prep work on the living room area.  Friday night we watched the Australians beat Wales in the consolation match for the Rugby World Cup.  Final match is on Sunday - New Zealand and France.

Tomorrow - the kitchen arrives.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Day 30

Mike stayed home today and worked on completing the installation of the extractor fans in the two bathrooms in the house.  Heather and I finished sanding in the dining area, tidied up the mess, and then painted the primer coat on the entire room including all the trim and the ceiling.  Here is a picture of me up on the scaffolding painting the ceiling and the very high wall!

We have one small area of patching in the living room (lounge), final sanding, and then that area will be ready for primer.  We are moving along!

We had quite a wind storm today and I got a short video of the pine trees blowing around.

Heather and I were both up very late last night and she sent me a very cute photo which she and Mike said I could share.  Mike and Heather have very different sleep cycles - she is a night owl and Mike goes to bed around 10 pm.  The Wee Mansion they are living in has just one room so Mike has implemented  this creative solution so he can sleep through Heather's late nights.

Ear plugs, eye mask, and a large black cat to snuggle with!

Time to say good night : )

Monday, 17 October 2011

Day 29 - Pamela's Request

During a Skype chat with my son, Thad, daughter-in-law, Pamela, and my two grandsons, Julian and Daschel, I was asked to try and post pictures that showed a panorama of the land around the house that Heather and Mike are building.  So with my trusty camera I have taken pictures from the two balconies of the house looking out at the landscape.  I'll give brief descriptions of what you are looking at as the pictures progress.  But first, a look at my son and his family, who along with Heather and Mike, are my pride and joy.

My handsome son Thad and his beautiful wife Pamela

My grandson Julian, 3 years old, with the seal grandma brought home for him from New Zealand last year

My grandson Dash, 1-1/2 years, saying "Cheese" for grandma when she takes his picture

Now on to the landscapes.

Taken from the balcony on the east side of the house, this is a view of the north side of the property.  You can see the tire tracks where the driveway comes through the trees.  The plan is to have the driveway curve around to the east side of the house, continue across the back of the house, giving access to the garage and workshop, and then continue westward to exit the property via the driveway that is on the west side of the house.  You'll see that in a later picture.

Moving to the east, there is some open ground and then piles of brush and tree trunks, and root stumps.  The little structure just to the left of center is the new chicken run (a close up picture is below).  The pile of dirt and rock in the lower left corner is what was dug out of the drainage pit at the corner of the house.

On the east side of the house, are the turkey and chicken enclosures.  You can see the gate at the top right of the photo.  In the lower left of the picture is the soil that was removed for the foundation of the house.

Now looking almost due east, in the upper left hand corner you can see the gate to the chicken enclosure.  Just right of that, between the lines of trees you can see dark poles.  Those hold the wires for raspberry, blackberry, and kiwi plants.  In the foreground are more piles of brush and tree trunks.  Eventually those will be bundled for firewood or kindling, or Mike will just burn them off since he likes to make fires!

Now looking to the south east, at the top of the picture you can see the three raised garden plots.  There will be five more, soon, to the left of these boxes.  At the top right you can see the bottom of the pump shed and running away from it is part of the trench for the electrical line that runs to the garage.  And of course a big pile of brush and to its right the barrel that Mike uses to burn the brush.

Looking south from the house you can see the pump shed in the upper left corner and  next to it the Wee Mansion. Between the pump shed and the Wee Mansion you can see three trellises against the trees.  Heather grows passion fruit on those trellises and behind them are two small garden boxes - one with strawberries and one is our plant "nursery".  In front of the Wee Mansion is the picnic table with most of our plant purchases still waiting to be put in the ground.  Unfortunately, you cannot see the bath tub  because the east corner of the garage is blocking it.

So here is the bath tub along with its supply of wood in the wheelbarrow.  You can see the remains of the fire from the Saturday night bath.

Here I have moved to the balcony on the west side of the house.  The corner of the Wee Mansion is in the top left corner of the picture and the west corner of the garage is in the lower left side.  You can see the drainage ditch running from the back of the Wee Mansion out to the water treatment tank which is partially visible in the lower right side of the picture.  The car is Heather's Toyota Starlet, a model not available in the US.  Beyond the car under blue tarps are piles of building materials, mostly tiles and flooring.

Continuing to move to the west, you can see the shelter for the firewood at the top of the picture and next to the firewood the reddish container is storage for most of Heather and Mike's household possessions.  The bare strip of land that runs in front of the firewood shed and the storage container is the driveway that runs out to the west side of the property, takes a right hand turn and continues out to the road.   In the foreground to the right is the massive pile of dirt and rocks that came out of the ground to make room for the water treatment tank.   Between the rock pile and the storage container you can see two posts in the ground.  That will be the south gate to the orchard.

Now looking toward the east, at the top of the picture is the southern part of the orchard.  Between the orchard and the pile of rocks is Mike's trailer.  Every Kiwi man owns a trailer - it's required : )

The northern half of the orchard is at the top of the picture.  We are adding new trees and they are all growing, but they are still hard to see in photos.

And here we are back at the north driveway where we started.  If you look at the left side of the picture in front of the stand of trees you can see two posts in the ground.  That will be the northern gate into the orchard, once the fencing and gates are installed.

And that is it for today.