A Tiny Day

The Forbearing Husband and I made Tiny into our base camp today while a nice man called Hamish prepped our kitchen floor ready for the new [redacted] to be laid. Not telling yet, I want to keep you in suspense a little while longer!

Tiny house with dogs

Dog tired after moving all that kitchen paraphernalia around.

It’s felt a little like being on holiday. More so after Forbearing Husband ventured into the kitchen to extract the kettle, and our tea making supplies. Because really, what kind of a holiday is it without a nice cup of tea?

If we are out here long enough another raid may have to be staged to obtain the gin and a bottle of tonic. Limes we have aplenty, on a tree just beside our tiny abode. Handy!

Tiny house writer

Tiny house writer

Book and cup of tea

Tiny house tea drinker

So, Forbearing Husband has been working at his scribblings*. I have been reading, and toying with emails. Any minute now it will be time to brush and feed the ponies, and then we are off out to dinner. A wise choice I thought, since the kitchen is largely empty.

Kitchen floor with compound

Tiny Day kitchen looking towards dining area.

and the living room looks like this.

Messy room

Sigh, we’ll be sorting that out after dinner.
And just when things were back to only their normal state of disorder.

Worst of all, there seems to be a fine film of dust on every surface. Oh wait, I think maybe that was already there — I’m Neil, not Martha, remember!

* And very fine scribblings they are to be sure.

How was your Thursday? Anyone else experiencing a fine film of dust?!

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What’s cooking?

Apart from those unborn lambs!

Granola

A new batch of AntiGene Muesli. Here’s the recipe.

Visitors to the farmlet have been missing their fix of AntiGene Muesli over the last few months (sorry Little Quail and Nurse Jenny). One way and another I’ve been too busy (or lazy), to get to Bin Inn and stock up on the raw ingredients.

All sorted now though after a bumper shop last week. And we’re cookin’.

Take note, you sheep-mamma’s with lambs in the oven. Your turn next to deliver the goods.

Anyone else getting started on something they’d been putting off?

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Expecting

I was hoping to be able to share cute photos of the rest of our baby lambs today. I’m afraid there has been a small hitch in that plan though — they haven’t been born yet. That’s right, we still have just one mother and baby pair, and two increasingly broad-in-the-beam mums-to-be.

Pregnant Whiltshire ewe

Mother-in-waiting #1. Surely to goodness this must be twins.

Our sheep gestation calculations suggested that we would have lambs at the beginning of September. Our first boy was born on the 5th, so naturally we felt certain there’d be more babies along at any minute. Now, after eight days with zero additional deliveries, I can only guess that Mr Ram — overwhelmed by exhaustion after the first impregnation — had to send out for oysters. Courier service to rural areas can take some time.

Pregnant Whiltshire ewe

Mother-in-waiting #2. This one is a first time mum.

Don’t worry, I’ll let you know as soon as there is a population increase. While we’re waiting perhaps you could hum a little something in a Hopeful Manner? I’ll leave the choice of tune to you.

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That’ll Do Pig

As previously mentioned, we got our kunekune pigs with high hopes for them being useful as lawn mowers. After some years of mowing largish lawns at our old house, the Forbearing Husband had expressed a deep desire to avoid pushing a mower around at the farmlet. I promised (quite recklessly, in hindsight) that he wouldn’t need to. I was quite sure we could get some farm animals to keep the lawns tidy. I even had a plan to call our eagerly awaited lawn-mowing sheep Briggs and Stratton.

Kunekune pig

Fig the pig, adorned with blades of grass undoubtedly gained while creating a large rut in a paddock.

Sadly my optimism was misplaced. Animals that eat grass seem incapable of stopping there. Mouthfuls of fruit trees, roses and even the occasional whole grapefruit have all slid down the gullets of our grazers. As for the kunekune pigs, they do more digging than mowing. Areas of grass that have been occupied by a pig end up looking like a rugby pitch after a particularly vigorous game. Some people put a stop to these shenanigans by adding rings to little piggy noses, but it makes us sad to think of those squidgy little snouts being punished for doing the thing they love best (#not-real-farmers).

So what are pigs good for if not lawn-mowing? I heard you say bacon, and I’m going to pretend you didn’t.

Moving right along.

The clearing

A mass of Jerusalem Cherry — pervasive weed extrordinaire, and mortal enemy of all on the farmlet.

When we bought the farmlet The Clearing looked like this, and it more or less remained in that state until a few weeks ago. It was full to chocka with Jerusalem Cherry (aka JC), a weed already much discussed on this blog.

There had been various weeding blitzes staged in The Clearing over the years, but we had failed to make much headway. The JC plants in there are prodigious; shoulder height, and growing so densely one can hardly fight one’s way into the mass of vegetation to swing a spade.

I’m guessing by now you can see where this story is heading?

A fanfare please for The Arrival of the Pigs (they’d like you to consider this their theme song).

Kunekune pig

Nell makes her entrance, squidgy little snout at the ready.

Yes, those grunting little rototillers were just what were needed. They marched on in, and took to their task like — well, like pigs to mud. They snuffled and shunted, grubbed and burrowed, wallowed and dug. They made tracks through the jungle of weeds, loosened up the soil and unseated that diabolical JC. What’s more they thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

Afterwards us humans did some digging of our own, along with a bit of unavoidable wallowing in the gumboot-sucking mud. We pulled up great clumps of JC which we hauled to the bonfire pile, gleefully anticipating incineration day (it was, in fact, those very plants we were burning on the afternoon of Daredevil Deborah’s swim).

By the time we’d all finished, the landscape in The Clearing looked set for a re-staging of the Battle of the Somme. We are hoping it will start to grow some pretty grass over summer, once we’ve done a bit of flame throwing to thwart the emerging JC seedlings. Although the Forbearing Husband has renounced lawn-mowing, he does not object to flame-throwing — a change being as good as a rest and all that.

Daredevil Deborah and Nina frolic in The Clearing partway through JC removal.
The muddy area has been weeded, the area to the left is the next to be dug.

So there you are, the story of two little pigs, who — while frightfully incompetent at lawn-mowing — went on to prove their worth.

I think we could say it now.

 

 

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It’s a Boy!

I thought you should be the first to know…

Wiltshire ewe and lamb

We have lamb number one. A little boy.

Wiltshire ewe and lamb

Mama sheep gave birth this morning.

Wiltshire ewe and lamb

Being born was clearly quite exhausting for junior.

The other two ewes are due to have their lambs in the next few days. One looks to be pregnant with twins judging by her girth. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you updated and post plenty of cute photos.

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Daredevil

It happened today! The first swim of the new season. Executed with style, and the speed of a woman outrunning hypothermia, by Daredevil Deborah.

A conversation about the possibility of swimming started this morning while farmlet residents were tending a bonfire. The sun was warm, the bonfire warmer, and as we moved a satisfyingly large pile of our evil botanical adversary into the flames we sweated profusely.

First swim of spring

Deborah enters the water with the words ‘It’s not too bad so far’ …

The word ‘swim’ left Deborah’s lips first, and she went to check the pool temperature. The rest of us took guesses; Favorite Stepson thought 13°, Stephen of House Kragbol 12°, and I (ever the optimist) hopefully predicted 15°. The Forbearing Husband did not guess. He has a writing deadline to meet and was typing furiously in the Tiny House.

First swim of spring

… And she emerges declaring it ‘invigorating’. A word straight out of the AntiGene swimming lexicon.

And the answer? A none-too-balmy 12.5°C . Nonetheless into the pool our brave Deborah went. I briefly considered joining her. Very briefly.

Instead I sat on the side and soaked my feet, spoke soothing words, and photographed her achievement for the blog. Look, someone had to take the pics, and there are times when one must make sacrifices for one’s art.

Anyone else been swimming yet? Anyone else glad they haven’t (yet)?

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Picture Post

I’ve subjected you to a few rather longwinded blog posts recently. So here, by way of a palate cleanser, is a pictorial essay I’m calling ‘The Farmlet in Winter’.

Nell the Kunikuni pig

Nell covered in mud, and hoping earnestly for food. Fig and Nell will sit on command if you have carrots.
It’s a good trick, and one which never fails to impress visitors.

Giselle the guinea fowl

Giselle, who has become a bit of a tyrant in the chicken house, shows us her imperious look.

Pony nose

Summer’s adorable velvety-soft nose.
Summer also hopes earnestly for carrots, she does not, however, sit on command.

Pony skid marks

What she does like to do in winter is to go hooning around the paddock practicing her sliding-stops.
Because *horse*!

Bonnie the pony in the Seven Acre Wood

Bonnie takes every possible opportunity to eat, insisting she is at imminent risk of starvation <rotfl>.
Here she is grabbing a few bites of greenery during a winter walk in Seven Acre Wood.

Rhubarb plant

In the vegetable garden there’s a forest of rhubarb starting up.
I planted a few extras last year because I’ve taken a liking to stewed rhubarb with my AntiGene granola.

Munstead Wood rose

Meanwhile the Munstead Wood rose popped out a surprise midwinter bloom in the English Garden.

Tete a tete Daffodils

And here are the miniature Tête-à-tête daffodils just in time for the change of season.
Why is it that I find tiny things so cute?

Well that was winter. I have a couple more muddy tales to tell you, and then we’ll be romping into spring! I’m more than ready to leap into a season of baby lambs (due any day now), short but ‘refreshing’ swims, and sowing seeds for summer vegetables. Perhaps Deborah and I might even making a start on rehabilitating that ramshackle old greenhouse.

What do you most look forward to doing this spring?

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A Tiny Tale: Part Two — The Move

Warning: Oversize blog post ahead!

Last week I told you about my unexpected purchase of a cabin called Tiny. If you haven’t already, you might want to read that post in order to marvel at the sheer fiscal recklessness of ChrissyB. In the same vein try this post, and this one, about other unplanned and daring purchases, and get a taste for what the Forbearing Husband has to put up with.

Enough about that. I’m generally very sensible. The sort of person who checks twice that power points aren’t live before messing around with wiring, and always wears her riding helmet. Great, now we’ve got that out of the way… would you like to see Tiny? Thought so. Look!

Tiny house moving

Sitting on the trailer at Waipu ready to move.

Cute, no? Well, cute is as cute does, and by the time we’d hauled our new friend 60kms or so up SH1 the Forbearing Husband wasn’t feeling the love. Here’s how it all went down.

When we bought Tiny she was based at Waipu, and we were fortunate that the person selling her knew quite a lot about moving oversized loads. He had offered in the Trade Me listing to actually deliver her within a 30km radius. Unfortunately the farmlet is outside that limit. Nevertheless, the seller (let’s call him ‘The Man From Waipu Cove’) seemed confident that with his help we could get the job done without paying professionals. At a saving of $1800 on renting a hiab that seemed like a good idea.

Tiny weighs two tonnes. She is 5.2m long, 2.5m wide, and 4m high. The plan was to jack her up on blocks and put her onto a borrowed trailer. After adding the height of the trailer, our load would be up around 4.6m. That’s a tad over the 4.3m legal hight limit on NZ roads (shhh, she’s here now, and no harm done).

Our main concern was overhead power lines. Mostly they are 5m above the ground, but that’s not guaranteed especially on small rural roads, and telecommunication lines can be lower. We live on a small rural road. Thus in the weeks between buying and moving Tiny, I became obsessed with looking at power lines as we drove along roads near the farmlet, panicking myself about how VERY low some of them looked. Full disclosure, I’ve only just kicked this habit.

Tiny house loft area

The loft sleeping area has a double glazed stained glass window.

Not to worry. The Man From Waipu Cove (henceforth TMFWC) decided that if we were to get to his place at 4pm we could get Tiny settled on her trailer by 6pm. That way we could drive home in daylight, and at what we hoped would be a nice quiet time on the roads. We were doing the towing in the newly-acquired Beast, with the Forbearing Husband driving, and me riding shotgun; TMFWC was to follow us. He would be looking out for low power lines and maintaining walkie-talkie contact so that he could warn us to stop before we hit them. Confidence was high.

On the day, we arrived at the appointed time and set to jacking Tiny up. It was a fully absorbing process, and quite satisfying; a couple of two tonne hydraulic jacks lifted one end at a time, and she was gradually blocked up higher and higher until we were able to slide the trailer right underneath. Brilliant. Until we looked at the time — 9pm! Oh frak. Best get on the road then.

Away we went, and for the first 15 minutes, just enough time to get us out of Waipu itself and headed towards the main highway, all was going to plan. At every low looking line we came to we would slow down and TMFWC would talk us through “Yup, keep it slow, looking fine, okay you’re good”. It was still scary, but a sort of controlled scary. Someone was looking out for us. And then the inevitable happened.

Jacking up the tiny house

Lifting Tiny up on blocks. The trailer is on the left of the photo ready to slide under her.

It got dark. Too dark for TMFWC to see the power lines any more. Too dark for any of us to see them. Advice from our expert mover ‘Just drive, and keep driving’. Holy cow!

So we drove, and we drove, and we drove, and we drove very s-l-o-w-l-y. Once out on the highway things were better in one way — underground power lines, yo — but speed was our enemy. If we got up over 70kmph Tiny started swinging around and fishtailing as if she was going to throw herself right off the trailer. Even though Forbearing Husband was pulling over when he could, and driving at a crawl when it was safe for people to pass, we were still officially holding up traffic. At one stage a police car drew up alongside and we all held our breath waiting for the siren. Then, after a second or two, the long arm of the law accelerated away. The Forbearing Husband and I (at the pointy end), and TMFWC (over the walkie-talkie), all breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Tiny house move 3

Ready to roll! We taped the top triangular window in case it cracked en route.

Making our way off SH1 and along the final segments of rural road towards our house presented more challenges. The road is winding and hilly. As we negotiated a tight bend on one particularly steep section, TMFW, who was still trucking along just behind us, feared that if we ran out of grunt Tiny would pull us backwards. Fortunately The Beast has staying power and a manual gearbox, and we swept up that hill (forever known to us now as ‘Tiny House Hill’) without breaking a sweat.

In a way the worst part of the whole trip was the 8km section before home, where I knew for sure (remember those obsessive observations?), there were some very low power lines. There was nothing to do though but to follow TMFWC’s earlier advice ‘Just drive, and keep driving’. Forbearing Husband drove, and I tried to mentally lift power lines in the places where I knew they were lowest. We didn’t hit a single power line, and I’ve since added telekinesis to my resume.

Tiny house move 2

Tiny in her new spot at the farmlet. She just fits right in.

Well, we finally got home at midnight, and by the time we’d shoe-horned Tiny into her new situation between CEDARS house and the top paddock (here’s the farmlet map for orientation purposes) it was close to 2am. After returning the borrowed trailer, and offering profuse thanks to TMFWC (we delivered him some more tangible tokens of our gratitude later that week) we fell into bed. It was all worth it to me though for the view from the kitchen window next morning.

There was Tiny, nestled between a tree fern and a willow, and looking all the world as if she’d been settled there for years. The Forbearing Husband even forgave me just a bit for that hellish trip when he saw how pretty she looked. As mentioned in my last post though, he did make me promise faithfully that we would never have to move a tiny house again. In fact he went a step further — he said that if ever I even contemplated such a thing he would …

Tiny house move 1

Tiny, ready to welcome visitors. The unattractive tape on the top window has since been removed.

… pay whatever it takes to get the professionals to do it. Have I mentioned before that the man’s a saint?

What’s the scariest load you’ve ever moved?

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A Tiny Tale: Part One — The Purchase

As promised, this is the story of how I sort of accidentally bought a tiny house on Trade Me, and how the Forbearing Husband and I moved from it Waipu to the farmlet. What, you’ve never accidentally bought a $23,000 item on Trade Me? Well, where on earth is your sense of adventure?!

Ok, full disclosure, the purchase wasn’t unplanned, just unexpected. The story goes like this.

Way back before we moved to The Land I had decided that it would be fun and functional to have a shepherd’s hut on the property. A cute and comfortable little retreat for accommodating all the many visitors I hoped we’d have. And which we have had. A big cheer for all who visit — we love you!

Plankbridge Shepherd Hut

I was imagining something like this Plankbridge hut. Mill Gully Huts make similar ones in Wellsford, NZ.

Research on NZ shepherd’s huts turned up Shepherd’s Huts NZ in Titirangi, not far from where we were living back then. I rang Steve, the owner, and discovered he had a bit of a waiting list for huts which I duly added myself to. About a year later, having heard nothing from him, and in the meantime having moved to Northland, I rang again. I was told he’d become completely swamped with orders after appearing in a Grand Designs NZ episode, and had lost his wait list in the confusion of it all. Oh, and also his prices had increased significantly. I was very happy for him in his success, but, funds being limited, I took myself off the waiting list.

Investigating other options led me to Mill Gully Huts near Wellsford. They charged bit more than the original price of the Titirangi huts, but were not as expensive as the revised pricing. Also Wellsford was much closer to our Northland abode, which would cut down on moving costs for the new hut. I rang Dave and discovered it took around six months for a build, so I started saving to bridge the price gap.

It took a while (what with juggling other major expenses on the farmlet), but eventually I accumulated the required amount of dosh. I was on the verge of pulling the trigger on a Mill Gully shepherds hut when I found something interesting on Trade Me. A Love Shack cabin showed up for sale. In my research on shepherd huts and cabins I had called the people at Love Shack. They do the absolute prettiest tiny abodes, but after calling them and hearing their prices I had whimpered quietly and crossed them off my list.

This Love Shack was listed in Waipu and had a reserve set a couple of thousand dollars cheaper than the shepherd’s hut I had just saved up for. There were 44 people watching the auction, and a bunch of questions already, so I knew that bidding on it was going to go crazy. Nevertheless, I thought for fun I’d place one bid at the start price using BidBud (a fantastic TradeMe helper, for those who don’t already know). I set my bid up five days before the end of the auction, and then just forgot all about it.

Until this happened!

Yikes!

Well colour me surprised! And the Forbearing Husband too. Bless him, as usual he made encouraging noises and promised to help me pick it up. He has since made me promise faithfully never to ask him to move a tiny house ever again…

…to be continued. I’ll tell you the other half of this story and show you photos of Tiny next Saturday in ‘A Tiny Tale: Part Two — The Move’. Tune on in again folks.

In the meantime, tell me, what’s the scariest thing you’ve accidentally bought?

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What Comes Around

Looking for fashion advice? Take a seat, you’ve come to the right place.

I was re-reading some old blog posts today and I happened on this one from February 2017. in which I suggested (in a spirit of irony) that I keep my ugg boots for a bit longer in case they came back into fashion. And what was I wearing today, at the very moment of reading my own sage advice? Why, my ugg boots. That’s what!

They narrowly escaped a one way trip to the op shop soon after that post was written. They got all the way to the box by the front door before I relented and put them back at the bottom of the wardrobe. And boy am I glad I did. The next time I came across them was earlier this winter while rummaging for an outfit to wear to a masquerade ball. No, I didn’t wear them to the ball (can’t believe you asked), but I did decide I quite liked them again. So snuggly warm, and just the thing to visually balance out skinny jeans, or in my case jodhpurs.

Vita Sackville West

Vita Sackville West in jodhpurs and what are surely an early version of ugg boots.

Well, no sooner had I started wearing them than I’m seeing ugg boots pop up everywhere. Clearly my fashion sense is inspiring a trend. Look at this. A whole article on rich and famous people homing in on my ugg boot vibe.

Katie Holmes in ugg boots

In 2019 even Katie Holmes is sporting ugg boots.

 

Ugg boots

Hers are a little more chic than mine, but I bet she paid more than $20 for them.

Mine were bought from The Red Shed for $19.99, somewhere back in the 2000’s, and as you can see, are brought right up to the minute here by being paired with my ‘bunny-wabbit’ pyjama pants (Hospice Shop, 2019, $1). Awesome no?!

P.S. I think, given my fashion forward track record, you can expect to be seeing many of the rich and famous in ‘bunny-wabbit’ pyjama pants by 2020.

 

What’s your favorite snuggly warm winter attire? Do you own anything you almost gave to the op shop that you’re glad you didn’t? The comment box is open.

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