A Coun­try Life

A move to the coun­try can bring you joy, but also mur­dered chick­ens, dodgy toi­lets and a round-about house.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - Words John Baker

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 ed­i­tor@nzlifestyle­block.co.nz, and if you wish to in­clude im­ages, please send high res­o­lu­tion jpegs.

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