A Country Life
A move to the country can bring you joy, but also murdered chickens, dodgy toilets and a round-about house.
Why life is best in the laundry
Ilive on a block in Te Pahu, just south of Hamilton. It’s one of those things you do as you get older, or eccentric: live close enough to the city to commute, far enough out to indulge weird behaviour. Stress and mild depression had been a part of my life for a long time so living a laid-back lifestyle in the country was the answer. Hills, limestone bluffs, mist, birds, bush, ukuleles, banjos are all key ingredients to success and utopian existence.
We bought an old farmhouse on two acres that was in serious need of resurrection. I used to be in the miracle business so how hard could it be? I thought I could spend my days pottering in the manner of an old English country squire, snipping a rose here, pruning a fruit tree there, rebuilding the kitchen one day, removing a wall the next.
The area is populated by an interesting mix of farmers, middle class commuters, alternative lifestylers, and a good sprinkling of conspiracy theorists. We soon learned to identify the ‘chem trails’ that are apparently part of a government conspiracy to mass medicate the population in order to keep them compliant. It was also made clear to us that it was much better to be living in the country, away from the city water supply which was full of mind-altering drugs as it’s so much better to use roof water which only contains natural substances like leaf mould and bird shit.
We took some time out from paid employment to settle in and find out what fun it was all going to be. In the first week in our new paradise the toilet fell over, the dog murdered a chicken and a bucket in the ceiling that was dealing with a hidden leak overflowed. Friends and family were sympathetic. “Told you so.” “What were you thinking at your age?” “You’ll probably fall off the roof and kill yourself.” “Silly old fool.” On the plus side, I quickly kitted out my man cave. I could finally collect all manner of useful and valuable objects for future use without fear of reprisal or recrimination. I had to buy some new tools to ensure I could tackle any task with ease. The nice man at the hardware store felt sure that I would need a router. If anyone knows what to do with one, please let me know.
Along with the house we inherited the usual assortment of items one would expect to find on a lifestyle property. There was a shed full of fascinating and critically important items whose usefulness would I am sure become clear in the future including a well-beaten ride-on mower, materials for several unfinished projects, and a freezer that was probably a house warming gift in 1966.
We also inherited a flock of chickens which did not wish to move into town with their family, preferring the quiet and relaxed atmosphere in Te Pahu. Unfortunately the dog didn’t realise that they were fragile and not one of her usual stuffed toys which were shakeable and gutable. It was necessary to explain to her the critical difference in this regard.
With such a lot to do, what we needed was a plan to tackle the task. My management training said I needed some goals, with a timeline or two and some risk analysis, but first there was a chicken to bury and some home brew to check out in the interests of quality control.
We started renovations in the laundry. It was on the wrong side of the house. In case you are wondering, we had noticed this before we purchased, but we did miss the fact that there was no water pressure in the shower.
Then there were the living areas which faced the road, which is to the south. In order to relax in the sunshine it was necessary to place the easy chair in the north-facing laundry. This was easy enough to do, so long as we propped the chair up to stop it falling through the rotten floor boards. It was possible to drown out the noise of the dripping tap by concentrating on the birds scratching around in the ceiling. Dripping taps are a
problem in the country because it wastes the finite supply of roof water and keeps the pump running continually.
Shifting the toilet took some ingenuity. At some stage, someone had decided that what was needed was a very solid throne so the porcelain seat was embedded in a one cubic metre block of concrete which itself was raised above floor level. In order to relocate it, it was necessary to smash the seat, then level the concrete to match the surrounding floor.
I have no idea how the previous owners lived with all this. We had lived in primitive conditions while overseas but this was new for us. I was beginning to suspect that they had taken on a task that was beyond their capabilities as attested to by the number of unfinished projects which I was keen to tackle. Or maybe it was because he was an accountant.
The plumber wanted to know where the septic tank was. Where was the septic tank? We didn’t know and it didn’t seem to be in any of the normal places. Was there We’d love to hear about your property and its animals, your projects, your life’s moments. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you wish to include images, please send high resolution jpegs.