With two weeks under my belt, I think I’ve now moved past the initial settling in stage and have slid into the rhythms of day-to-day life at Toi Toi Manawa. Of course, that’s not to say that every day is the same! Far from it, in fact. Each new day has brought new places to explore, ideas to consider, and people to know better.
This week began with a visit from Sheryl and Hal Stivens of Free Range Farm…and some of their poultry roadies. These two have an immense amount of experience in raising all kinds of birds – from chickens and turkeys and ducks through to geese and pigeons and peacocks. They are very passionate about poultry – and are quick to remind us that New Zealand is, after all, a country of birds. A morning spent with Sheryl and Hal made it quite clear that a healthy, small-scale farm can benefit greatly from the presence of poultry – economically, environmentally, and on the happiness index!
But Monday didn’t end there! That afternoon we were treated to a chat with a regular fixture at Toi Toi Manawa. Goodwin, a very young eighty-something year old, is raising the herd of Tahr (that Himalayan wild goat) that share this property with us. While he was slotted in to discuss livestock, the conversation drifted around to everything from helicopter flying and the early days of domesticated deer in New Zealand to his early life on the farm and some of the challenges he’s had with various bits of government regulation. The man is a wealth of knowledge and we thoroughly enjoy having him stop by to visit, share stories, and have his periodic dosage of vegetables!
One of the main projects this week was to disassemble our recently-purchased greenhouses at their former home and get them transported here. Not a small task! Each greenhouse is 14x24m and it took eight of us a pretty full morning to take them apart on Tuesday. The next step was to get a digger in to remove the posts and a truck to transport them to Toi Toi Manawa. Putting them back together again will be a bigger job yet, but it will be well worth it to have such ample greenhouse space this spring!
On Tuesday evening, Andy, Henry (our resident permaculturalist), and I headed over to the town of Lyttelton to hear a talk by Nicole Foss on “building local resilience in an era of economic turmoil and resource depletion”. Nicole is very well spoken and presented the issues in a well-thought out and balanced way that was focused more on constructive action than on inciting panic. The talk was hosted by Project Lyttelton, an initiative that I am very keen to get to know better. The group is organizing a wide range of innovative, community-based initiatives to support and strengthen Lyttelton, a beautiful harbour town which was particularly hard-hit in last year’s earthquakes.
Evidence of earthquakes is staggering in many parts of Christchurch and places surrounding it. In between errands on Wednesday, Andy took me on a mini tour of the Christchurch city centre, describing some of the buildings that used to stand in spots that are now piles of rubble. More than a year later and the area is still very much a construction zone, with a massive amount of deconstruction left to do before reconstruction begins on any scale. But with the disaster has come a great deal of hope as well, as the city is given a chance to reimagine itself and to plan for a more resilient future. It will be very interesting to wait and watch how the city rebuilds and reshapes over the coming years.
The rest of the week has been balanced between working on our Independent Projects (we are making presentations on our projects to the trustees tomorrow) and running errands while we still have the use of a ute (ute = utility vehicle = pick up truck). In addition to saying goodbye to the use of that vehicle this weekend, we are also saying goodbye to our lovely companion, Lopo. He’s a gorgeous boy off to find a new home as this program isn’t well suited to hosting pets. We’re taking him for a walk through the village this afternoon to see about finding him a new home, which shouldn’t be difficult. Who could resist a face like this?
The autumn weather has been very pleasant lately – sunny with highs hovering between 10 and 20C. It’s made for a couple of very nice wanders down to the river to spend time in our state-of-the-art, all-in-one shower/bathtub/washing machine/swimming pool.
In one more week, we’ll be leaving for two weeks of holidays on the North Island. Time will be spent visiting with Andy’s parents and attending the Australasian Permaculture Convergence, both of which I’m looking forward to very much. When we return to Toi Toi Manawa, the construction on the main building should be nearly complete. When it’s all finished we’ll have (indoor!) showers, a fireplace and even an oven. Plans are also in the works to get modified shipping containers brought out here as our winter accommodations. They’ll be insulated with wool and should be a nice step up from the tent as the temperatures begin to drop!
But for the moment, it’s back to work on my project presentation. And maybe a break here and there to go out and enjoy the beautiful blue sky day out there.