Category Archives: Homesteading

A Year of Growth

This past year has been a time of great change for many people and through it we have seen a surge of people choosing to live a simpler life. Whether it be moving from a city to a smaller town or rural land, or getting back to growing and cooking your own food. Spending more time with family and even homeschooling, to leaving it all behind and choosing to live off grid in a remote location. 

For us here at Fodder Farm it has been an eventful year. It was late February 2020 when we first viewed our new property, a hot sunny day, driving from the dry brown of Manawatu to the depths of a remote valley in the Ruapehu district, green and fresh in the heat of the day. There were a few must haves on our property wish list, water, more land and hopefully trees for both beauty and firewood. If we could buy a property with these three requirements, we would have great a basis for continuing our homesteading journey. Having just experienced drought in the Manawatu the past year, water and summer-safe were certainly top of our list. This property had all these and an off-grid house which was an added bonus. The remote location was a big factor to consider, the closest town and high school being one hour away. But with property prices getting excessive, this one would leave us with some funds for improvements so we decided to take the plunge. But plans were stalled for a while as our nation went into lockdown. Selling and buying during lockdown is not something I would recommend… 

With only one viewing possible it wasn’t until the end of May that we saw our property again, on moving day. Straight into a very low power lifestyle, only one solar panel with a battery and a 2kw Honda generator. A wetback woodstove for water heating and cooking, plus a barbeque and double gas ring. The wetback was brilliant giving us lots of hot water, but one cold day, after days of the fire cranking, the hot water blew out the vent, exploding onto the roof in a great steaming gush. Damn it. After that the water only reached low heat out of the tap as the tempering valve had seized, causing more issues with the cylinder over heating as we couldn’t drop the hot water fast enough. We stopped lighting the fire for a couple days, which was a bit chilly, while we brought a new valve and installed it. Apparently just one incident shouldn’t have wrecked the valve, it must have already been on its last legs. It was a costly fix, but never mind, it was a relief to have the hot water for showers and dishes up and running again.  

Cooking on the woodstove

We had no fridge for about 5 months, but the generator ran for about four to five hours a day to keep the chest freezer running and to get the washing done. Connecting the larger solar kit took a while with rewiring needed throughout the house. But we certainly gained an appreciation and understanding of electricity during that time. While the solar was important the outside fencing was urgent, we had boundary fencing and some interior. But keeping the pigs out of the vege garden was an issue, especially when the young ones found if they ran fast enough, they would often make it under the electric fence without getting zapped. The occasional squeal let you know when one got the timing wrong. Containing the chooks was another urgent matter, with no chook coup they had taken to roosting in the low tree branches. It took a bit of convincing them that the new chook shed was a much better place to sleep and lay eggs, with a few chooks refusing to give up their wild life. No matter what, each night they found their way back to the trees to roost, even pruning up the lower branches failed to deter them. 

We are fortunate to have gravity fed spring water to the house and a creek fed line for the stock and gardens. We asked the previous owners if the spring ever dried up, “never ending supply of water” was their answer. You can image our surprise when a couple of months later the house water stopped. We had not yet investigated the spring, but a quick glance at the tank on the hill and the indicator told us it was full every time we checked. It still indicated full on the day the water stopped… 

David set off to investigate, first the tank, which was in fact empty. It seems maintenance had not been carried out for quite some time as both a Mahoe and a Himalayan honeysuckle had managed to grow on top of the tank, their roots running down inside the tank and preventing the indicator from lowering. He removed the mass of roots from inside and cleaned the tank thoroughly. But with only a slow flow it would take a long time for the tank to refill, so David put the house onto the stream line temporarily with two filters, but drinking water was collected from a small rainwater tank off the shed. We had not been shown where the actual spring was located, which meant the pipe had to be followed. This would have been an easy job if it wasn’t for the fact, it was on the neighbours steep pine block hill. Scrambling amongst the fallen pines and rampant blackberry turned finding the spring into a mission. He walked up and down through the clawing blackberry struggling to follow the pipe, finally finding a second small tank and further on the spring. It was only about 10 metres up from the fence line hidden amongst the Punga, about another 100 metres up the road from the tank. 

Location sorted David set about improving the flow collection as half of it was missing the drum. Thus improved, pipes cleared of air and the water was flowing faster than before, on measuring the flow we calculated it would provide us with approximately 2500 litres per day. Now when we look at the tank indicator, we know its full. It’s a great thing knowing that you are responsible for these amazing resources, that with care and maintenance they will provide you with your needs and knowing how to fix them gives you self-reliance, an important point when you live a far distance from town.  We were pleased to have another resource in abundance, firewood. Not only was the property covered in trees, including old Man Pine, Gums and Blackwood but the four-bay farm shed had three whole bays stacked with pine. We were told (in a note) that the driest wood was stacked in the back of the middle bay, this involved climbing over two metre high stack of wood in front to get the ‘dry’ wood… 

Not really something we wanted to do, but what was more of an issue is that it appeared the wood had been wet stacked, so it was moldy. This area is rainforest land, high rainfall. Which means we want our wood to be fully sun/air dried and then stacked dry in the shed. Damp moldy wood burns poorly and soots up the flue, we were cleaning it fortnightly just to keep the fire burning. Luckly, we had a two-week break of fine weather which meant we could open up the middle bay exposing as much wood as possible to the sunlight and air, this quickly dried out the pine and it could be burnt more cleanly. 

Grazing the Long Acre (road side)

Grazing was another issue. Our livestock soon brought the pasture back to fully grazed status. Soon we were making use of the quiet gravel road by grazing the Long Acre, letting to stock wander up the road for a couple of hours each day. Moving in winter we needed to buy in hay, but following the drought in other regions hay was in short supply and getting it proved difficult and expensive. On a couple of occasions, we travelled to buy hay only to find that the quality was poor, to the point where the cow wouldn’t even eat it. But chooks needed nesting hay and the pigs needed bedding for winter and farrowing so nothing was wasted. We finally found a local hay contractor who had some bales left and dragged home large squares two at a time on our trailer, using brute force to shove them off the trailer and into the hay shed. Then a lucerne grower advertised some wrapped silage bales, these are heavy wet bales and our Ute would only handle one at a time on our rugged road. But it was good nutritious fed for ewes which were raising lambs, so each fortnight we dragged one into the valley. 

We had arranged to have our pines harvested in October. There was some grazing in those pine paddocks, but lack of sunlight and proximity to the pines meant it was sparse and not so palatable to the stock. Though the cow did well on the juvenile mahoe which grew amongst the pines. October arrived and no harvesters came, then into November and they did the required council paperwork. Before Christmas they said, but still no harvesters came. We had noticed as spring progressed that our pastures were not bouncing back with the spring growth, we were used to in other areas we have lived. Arranging a Reems soil test, we were shocked at the results, the supposedly fertile volcanic loam was severely lacking in many bio-available nutrients. Possibly due to our high rainfall but also perhaps to past farming practices. This started us on an investigation into what would be needed to bring its nutrient level up for healthy growth.  

The vege garden rampant in its mid summer growth

Having previously travelled many hours to Paeroa to get a more bio available lime and paramagnetic rock dust, we balked at the cost of getting enough product to bring up the PH from 5.04 to the recommended 6 plus for optimum plant growth. We looked into straight Ag lime as it was readily available but at a recommended 1-2 ton per hectare to lift the soil pH by 0.1 points, that would mean 10 to 20 tons just for the house paddocks. As we had nowhere to store it and no means to unload ton bags and hand spreading being our only real option of application, it just didn’t make sense to apply lime. This led us to researching other ideas on soil fertility, which led David to Korean Natural Farming (KNF). A way to produce our own amendments, often from ingredients already on the land or readily available. The recommended dilution rates were astounding 1/1000, so calcium would be 1l calcium solution to 1000l of water spread across our house paddock. 

Pasture looking a bit sparse, firewood shed in the back ground

At the same time, I was reading ‘For the love of Soil’ by Nicole Masters. She spoke of ‘tweaking the soil’, small amounts of nutrients rather than the tons conventional farming spread across the land. This would minimize the damage to the existing soil life and support plant growth. Having a preference for natural living, this ‘first do no harm’ approach sounded more like us. David started making and using the KNF preparations. He investigated collecting and growing on Indigenous Micro Organisms (IMOs) and our eyes opened to the fungal world around us. We searched old native forest for fungal rich soil and leaf litter and added them to our composts and made IMO brews. We started to see results, the garden started to look better, the plants had thicker healthier leaves and stronger growth. The pasture growth increased and took on a more vibrant colour, its bounce-back after grazing increased significantly.  

We had created new garden beds during winter and early spring, feeding them with compost and some bio available nutrients before mulching and planting, but we had noticed that often the plants would ‘sulk’ for a while after planting. It seemed that as they got their roots down into deeper soil they would really come away, we figured that the deeper the roots got the more nutrients there were available for them, yet soil testing only took in the top 10cm of soil. We found the KNF brews helped with the establishment of the young plants but it made us observe the older established plants on the property. Most of these were in good health, showing no signs of nutrient deficiencies, it was the shallow rooted plants which seemed to struggle. Which also highlighted the fact that we had a lot of pooling happening especially in the paddock, which would indicate compaction, the large amount of dock and buttercup would support this observation. So, these observations told us that the nutrients were there we just needed to make them accessible, or bioavailable, and open up the soil. David had started studying Dr Elaine Ingham’s work and the ‘Soil Food Web’, we had a microscope so he began investigating the soil and composts for microscopic life. The difference between the ‘normal’ garden soil and soil from the base of old forest trees was tremendous. The old forest soil was teeming with life, a whole underground ecosystem. Forests exist in a balance of life and death, there is no added fertilisers, they self-perpetuate. If left to its own devises a landscape will re-establish into its natural state through succession, from the cover weeds to grasses and herbs, to woody perennials, to shrubby small tree to larger trees etc. As the progression happens, be it grass lands, forests or alpine slopes each level of succession adapts the soil, changing the ratios of bacteria to fungi, with old forest being the highest number of fungi. 

Old forest floor

Pasture should be about a ratio of 50/50 bacteria to fungi, but unfortunately many pastures are lacking in both of these and therefore the underground livestock of Nematodes, Protists, Micro-Arthropods etc. Which are necessary for a healthy soil. The soil scientists themselves will say that they are still learning, still trying to understand the functions of each tiny piece of the puzzle. They study these microscopic ecosystems and the effects changes have on their biome through the lens of a microscope. Where Natural Farmers will use observation, physical results and tradition to show them the way. Combining the two methods gives you the best understanding and functional results to continue to provide your plants with the accessible nutrients they need to be able to support you and your livestock’s health. 

Health, that is another big topic, we live a relatively ‘clean’ lifestyle for reasons of supporting our own health. Low sugar/low carb, avoid additives, preservatives, eat mostly homemade everything and as much as possible, homegrown. We avoid damaging chemicals, opting for natural products or, again, homemade. This has evolved slowly, replacing food or household items bit by bit. Sometimes I lapse back into old habits (especially while moving house!) but having lost about 15 kg in the past 4 or 5 months I think this time we will hold the line. It is an interesting thing I find, that when you are on the right path things seem to flow better. You feel better mentally, doors open and opportunities arise, sometimes in completely unexpected ways. We have learnt on our life’s journey to go with the flow, we still work towards goals, but are open to what life might throw at us. Sometimes those curve balls turn out to be a blessing. 

Majestic old trees

I have found that moving to such a rugged and quiet location has reconnected us with the land. I would say we have always observed and lived in our landscape but now that immersion has deepened and the connection has strengthened.  It is a landscape of steep hills and large trees, we often hear the changing of our surrounds, trees falling, earth moving and have had to clear the roads to pass. We have experienced wild weather bombs and clear star-studded nights with no lights to dampen the amazing glow. I have seen shooting stars and a meteor explode above us. We hear the Morepork call in the night and wake to the rooster’s crows. We have stood in awe of great Starling murmuration’s in the evening sky and chatted with cheeky Fantails and shy Robins as the Welcome Swallow’s swoop overhead. We have watched herds of wild Fallow deer graze the slopes across the river and listened to the bleat of goat kids calling for the mums. We have walked through old forests, breathed the cool cleanness of the air, awed by the majestic height and girth of these wonderous historic trees. We have been entranced by the filtered streams of sunlight, turning the gloom into a place of magic, teeming with life, the beauty of the fauna, flora and the fungi. And we have stood in the mysterious depths of our ravine, marvelling at the sheer rock faces towering above and the stillness of the massive eels in the dark depths below. 

We realise that we are but a small part of this tremendous ecosystem of our earth. And know that for us this past year has been one of great growth and of change for the better. 

The Land Dream – A Homesteader Point of View. 

We hear a lot about the ‘Great Kiwi dream of home ownership’ and about how hard it is now to step on the property ladder. We hear of the housing crisis and we see people living in cars and garages, to people living in mansions. We hear about the lack of houses, that we need more houses in less space, cram them all in like sardines! But for homesteaders like us, it’s not so much about the house, but about more the land…

With land you can grow your own fruit and vegetables, raise your own meat, care for that piece of the earth in a way that nourishes it and your family. Raise your children to understand where their food comes from and to appreciate the effort it takes to produce it. The flow on from this is better physical health, better mental health and better earth health.

But how in this time of housing shortages and great land demand do we find our little piece of paradise?

The first step is figuring out what you want from life….

Do you want to earn the funds to pay someone else to set up or do the work on your property?

Do you want to work all week at your ‘real job’ and then all weekend at your ‘home job’?

Is your dream to not ‘go out to work’ but create your living from home?

Or do you want to let it all go, this consumer world and seek freedom?

These questions are the basis of getting you to think about your work/life balance, finding your focus, because if you don’t know what drives you, be it money, space to breath, sustainability, love of the land or freedom, knowing where your food really comes from, you won’t know where to head.

Next, what do you want from your land?

A place to escape to, no real expectations in regards to production?

Enough land to produce fruit and vegetables for you and your family?

Or meat and dairy?

Perhaps you would like to make an income off your land? Either part-time or full-time?

Write a list, brainstorm anything you are interested in, put it on a piece of paper. Then think what do I already know, what would I need to learn, how much do I really need?

 

 

This is a big question; how much do I really need?

We all have stuff; we have dreams and we have wants, the trick is getting what we need.

Distinguishing between wants and needs is a big step towards living a life on the land. I say this because the reality is you can live a life on the land in the midst of a city, if you have the right attitude. Urban homesteading is a growing practice, with yards being turned into vegetable and fruit gardens, food forests, chicken runs or even small livestock farms.  Koanga’s 200 square metre urban garden is a great example of this, showing how much is achievable on an average section.

There are many small homesteads, one example we know personally is Anythyme Homestead which on a quarter acre, has many fruit trees, berries, herbs, a greenhouse and vegetable garden. She also currently has 53 animals. Chooks, rabbits and a couple of KuneKune, but she has also incubated and raised quail, turkeys and ducks. All of these livestock are raised for eggs, meat or for sale. With the use of a crow collar Anythyme homestead even runs a rooster with her chooks. This is what you can achieve on a section in the midst of a town.

But what if you want sheep, cattle or goats? How much land do you need?

While it depends on the quality of the land and grazing, a basic example per acre would be 3 to 5 sheep or one cow. Any more and your feed supplements would increase, therefore making it less cost effective. While having one cow might sound appealing, they are herd creatures and therefore need company, so if owning a cow is on your plan you might need to up your land requirements.

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John Seymour’s The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency. One Acre Holding. 1976. not entirely accurate for how we live but an inspiring image for many people.

The one-acre homestead can still provide you with a large portion of your needs, providing you are willing to put in the time to establish and maintain it. This is where re-thinking how you eat can help. These days we have easy access to a large variety of fruits and vegetables, but it wasn’t that long ago that we were eating a simpler diet. In 1987 when David started work as a produce assistant there was a much more limited range available and seasons had a huge influence on availability too. So, when you plan your fruit and vegetable areas think about fruiting times to spread the harvest, plant what your family actually eats and consider perennial vegetables like globe artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes and asparagus. Also cut and come again crops like sprouting broccoli and cutting celery, bunching onions, silverbeet and mesclun salads help spread the harvest from one planting. But most importantly just eat seasonally!

Chickens are the first livestock most people get, whether you raise them for eggs or meat as well dictates which breeds you should have. Some like shavers are bred for high volume egg laying, cobb are bred for meat birds while the larger heritage breeds are generally dual purpose. Poultry in general can be raised on a small area and their manure can go back into the property to help maintain fertility.

Rabbits are a high producing meat source that also only take up a small area, their lean meat is best in saucy meals we have found, but it is also very filling.

Pigs are also suitable for the smaller land area, we raise Kune Kune which are a grazing pig, so while we need less supplementary feed they do take longer to mature to a decent size and take up grazing space. (Yes, you can eat Kune Kune, in the US they are often farmed for meat production)

Sheep and goats can provide you with meat and if you have the right breeds, milk! While you might only be able to carry a few, these can still provide lambs or kids to raise up over summer and then be sold or processed when the grass growth slows off.

 

 

 

Do you need more land?

We do. We have done our calculations based on what we eat and what level of self-sufficiency we wish to achieve. Being a low carb family of four, we would consume about 1kg of meat per day (plus lots of vegetables, dairy, eggs and some fruit and nuts). That’s approx. 30 kg of meat a month.

Which could factor out at:

Rabbit x 4 @ approx. 1kg each     or 48 per year

Chicken x 4 @ approx. 2+ kg each    or 48 per year

Lamb/Mutton x 8kg      or approx. 4 lambs per year

Beef x 8 kg     or approx. 96 kg per year

Pork x 4 kg     or 3 to 4 pigs per year depending on size.

Plus, we want to be able to run a dairy cow or two.

This would put us at needing probably about 5 acres. Yet we are only on two, with over a ¼ of that area taken up by the house, sheds and fruit and vegetable gardens.

This brings us back to the big dilemma; how do you get the land you need?

If you are in the position to just go and buy it or arrange a mortgage then good for you, however many people are not. For many a combination of rising living expenses, plus land and housing property price increases have got to the point where it is no longer achievable to even save the funds needed for a deposit. This has led to many people embracing the tiny house movement, simplifying and decluttering their life so that they only require a small space to live in. Often this can also mean they spend more time outdoors and have more time and money to do the things they enjoy. These tiny houses can include little cottage or bach like buildings, earth-built homes, like cob or earthbag, or more commonly mobile homes, like buses, trucks and of course the trailer built tiny house.  But even if you can manage to build or buy a tiny house you still need a place to put it. There are people who are willing to ‘rent’ you some land for mobile homes, but this can still be fraught with uncertainty. All it takes is a complaint to the council and you could be moved off the land at short notice. Buying your own section carries the same risk, but it also allows you the security of aiming towards compliance from the council. It seems some councils are struggling with the rise in tiny houses at a time when they should be actively embracing them to help curb our current housing crisis. The more people who follow this route and actively work with the councils to find solutions to any issues raised, like grey and black water, sewerage and septic systems, the easier it will be for others in the future. But councils also need to take action and adapt to the way the world is heading, they need to be more inclusive of these alternative ways of living, building and waste management systems, some of which have been used successfully for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

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John Seymour’s The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency. Five Acre Holding. 1976.

Land sharing is also rising in popularity, while many may think of the hippy communes of old, this is often not the case. Probably the most common form of land sharing is community gardens, this allows people in more urban areas to gather and grow food together, sharing both the work load and the resulting harvests. The really great thing here is that it allows people who may be in rental or apartment situations the opportunity to learn and be actively involved in managing a productive garden and piece of land.

Then we have the land owners who invite others to live on their land, lease land or simply use it for shared food production. As long as you have people you can connect with or have a good working relationship, this option can have great benefits for all parties involved. The work load of a homestead or farm, large or small can be quite heavy. While paying people to help with this labour might not be practical, allowing them to live on your property with an agreement to help lighten the load may work well. It was common for families to work land together in the past but these days this often does not happen. So, opening your land to other people and families could be the answer for those that are struggling. The WWOOFing initiative has been a popular choice for people on their O.E’s wishing to experience life on organic farms in other countries. HelpX is another one which has a broader range of ‘volunteer work in exchange for free accommodation and food on farms, backpacker hostels, lodges, horse stables and even sailing boats.’ Since these two systems are so successful, why wouldn’t work in a longer-term scenario? As long as you choose like-minded people.

We can also take a step back here, as there are those who live in an urban environment who choose to do a similar thing, house share.  Whether this be flat mates, extended family or just like-minded people sharing a house, it can provide lower expenses and work load. If you are currently in ownership of an urban property, look at what you have first. Can you restructure it to become a food providing space, do you really need that lawn? If you are interested in only really growing fruit and vegetables then the average yard size is probably all you really need. Houses too, can be restructured to provide a more suitable food production space, adding a greenhouse to the northern side can increase your yields dramatically and extend your growing season.

Then you need to consider your neighbourhood and greater surrounding area. Having neighbours who are like minded can also lead to a pooling of resources or green trade.  By utilising each person strengths and resources a cohesive community can be created. This could be in the form of: one person has fruit trees, so they trade/swap that fruit for veges from another neighbour or for help around the property. Perhaps even for childminding while they get jobs done, simple things that once were not even thought about it, was just part of the wider family and community working together. I do believe that this is part of the issue, often we have been taught that we need to succeed and be independent, to go out into the world and make our mark. But this has come at the cost of staying close to family and support networks, of working together to achieve our goals.

 

But neighbour’s working together, can also extend to rural properties, especially if a larger property owner has sub-dividable areas or smaller sections they could sell off. By increasing the population of the surrounding area, they can also increase the employee availability. Many rural areas have suffered from a loss of population with people leaving to move to the cities, but by allowing land to be used in alternative ways, perhaps this could be reversed. Encouraging those people who choose to live of their land back into these areas could strengthen the community for all.

With this in mind, there are other ways of achieving your land goals. Like the pooling of resources and skills to buy a larger block of land which has the capabilities of supporting all of those living on it. Generally, ownership here would come under co-ownership, which can take on two forms;

  1. Tenants in common each have a share of the property. This can be equal shares or differing shares. If a tenant in common dies, the share needs to be dealt with by Will.
  1. Joint tenants each own an equal share of the property. If a joint tenant dies, the share is passed to the other tenant (they will become the sole owner).

But there is also the option of a trust owning the land and leasing it back to the trustees or other parties. Often these leases will be for 99 years etc., are resaleable and also inheritable. This allows the leasee’s to build on the land and develop it in accordance with the trust’s conditions/values. An example of a Community Land Trust is Kotare Village in the Hawkes bay. Often these situations will contain common land which is shared by all those in ownership or leaseholders.

The last option I have here is relocating. If you currently own land in a high value area consider the possibility of relocating to the regions and utilising the lower property prices to increase the size of your holding. But even in the regions the land prices are increasing to the point of being twice the ratable value in many areas. There is only so much land for sale and with more people looking to return to living off the land, demand for lower priced parcels of land can be high. But if you are in a position to move this option could also leave you left over capital to develop the property into a functional homestead. It may also allow you to decrease your debt load.

Decreasing your debt load is an important issue when looking at developing a homestead, whether rural or urban, and restructuring into a more self-productive and sustainable life. The less you owe the less you have to earn, the more you can produce yourself the less you have to buy in. The less you have to earn the more choice you have as to how and where you spend your time.

 

 

For us, here at Fodder Farm, it has been a long journey to get where we are, with many steps back as well as forward. But we have learnt a lot about land, our needs and to be flexible in how we meet the challenges before us.

One of our primary goals is to produce our own ‘clean’ food, to the point where all meat, dairy, fruit and veges come from our own endeavors and land. There may be some exceptions, bananas and avocados spring to mind, as we prefer the cool higher country regions for our location. As we calculated above, for our family, we would need 5 or more acres to achieve this, we currently have 2.  So, we are looking into the value of our property and the value of land around us and further afield. Leasing has not been an option and as we like to live where our animals are, both to decrease travel and to allow for frequent monitoring of their grazing and health, it really is not suitable.

That leaves us with a couple of options

  1. Find a suitable piece of land within our price range.
  1. Find people with similar goals and style of living to co-own a larger property with us.

With this in mind we have to remain flexible.  Factors for us to consider are the council by laws, land availability, location and possible land partners.

I believe flexibility and an understanding of how much land you need to achieve your goals, is the key to achieving your land dream. For some of you it might simply be about restructuring or refocusing. But for us it is simply more land however that pans out. If you have any thoughts or experience in this area, we would love to hear from you.

 

Further reading:

https://cohousing.org.nz/ 

https://homelegal.co.nz/blog/joint-tenancy-vs-tenants-in-common-know-your-ownership-before-you-get-owned/ 

http://kotarevillage.org.nz/introduction-to-community-land-trusts/ 

http://www.equilibrium.org.au/ 

http://wefs.co.nz/what-is-a-csa 

https://www.gardeningnz.com/community-supported-agriculture/ 

https://www.buildtiny.co.nz/faq 

 

 

Planning for Autumn and Winter Planting

Whether you are thinking of planting a home garden, an orchard, food forest, hedgerows, shelter belt, or a firewood or fodder/forage woodlot, planning for your Autumn and Winter planting is a must. (As my Husband always says… ‘Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance, the five P’s’ but I think I might change it to Planning Planting Prevents Poor Performance…). Planting at this time of the year allows for the plants to develop a good root structure prior to spring growth. Also bare rooted plants are available over the winter months and this makes the larger deciduous trees more affordable, especially if buying through mail order. As long as the roots are kept moist at all times this method of buying trees and shrubs is very convenient and easier than lugging around heavy planter bags.

So where do we start…

Evaluating your site’s conditions is the first step. Sun direction, wind direction, wet or dry, soil type and temperature all influence what you can plant and where. A useful tool for this is a site map or plan, if you do not have one already a simple method is to use Google Earth Pro to print an image of your property or area you wish to plant. You can then either draw directly onto the image or use translucent paper to trace the key objects like fences, buildings, existing trees etc.

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Printed Google Earth image of Fodder farm, over drawn with property boundaries, fencing, existing structures, sun and wind direction and any other key points.

Next, finding your focus for your property will help decide what you wish to plant. Are you looking for low maintenance, but attractive? Functional? Self-sufficiency? The time you have to spend on creating and maintaining the planting will greatly influence the style of planting too.

Also spend some time investigating garden/landscaping philosophies. There are many different methods and ideals, finding one that resonates with you can inspire ideas you may never have considered otherwise. These can range from ‘conventional’, to relaxed go with the flow, or to Permaculture, Regenerative or Biodynamic.

We are Homesteaders so this means our focus is on creating a functional property which supplies most of our food, home and medical needs, it also needs to provide us with an income. Our philosophy is to do all this as naturally as possible, but we are also realistic and if a ‘conventional’ approach is needed we will resort to that. We do not follow any one established philosophy but take many great ideas from across the board and adapt them to suit our family and property.

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Plan for Fodder Farm traced onto translucent paper. Included is what we have already achieved and what we are planing.

When choosing plants for your site make sure you consider its full growth potential and the possible impacts this may have on other plantings or structures etc. This could include shading, root invasion (especially for willows in water pipes), crowding out, incompatibility, etc.

However you choose to manage your property there are some pretty consistent processes when it comes to planting.

  • Clear the area to be planted. There are two main reasons to do this, firstly it removes competition for nutrients and water allowing the new plant to establish well. The other reason is allelopathy, this is when a plant releases a growth inhibitor toxic to prevent plants growing around it. A good example of this is walnut trees which release a compound juglone into the soil surrounding them which is toxic to many other plant species, this often results in bare patches under the trees. This can also occur with many conifer species and also Gums which suck the ground dry. Some grasses have a similar action, rye grass, which is very common in most New Zealand pastures, is being studied for its effectiveness as an herbicide. 1

(note; this doesn’t apply if simply inserting a plant/tree into an existing garden with compatible or support plants)

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Blueberry planted into a mulched garden.

  • If using a loose mulch this can be applied to the area some weeks or months prior to planting along with manure to create a ‘bed’ into which planting can be done. This method has the benefit of improving the soil prior to planting and reduces the work at planting time. Another method is to cover the area temporally with a plastic sheeting, cardboard or another solid material to ‘smother’ the existing plantings at least a couple of months before planting.
  • Ensure the area to be planted is moist and if the plant is bagged it is also moist. Dig a hole wide and deep enough for the plant’s roots to spread out. If the plant is bare rooted create a small mound in center of hole for the roots to spread over. Ensure the plant will sit at the same ground level height it was in the bag or ground and carefully full back in around the roots firming as you go. If planting into clay soils or other poorly draining soils plant into mounds to allow for better drainage. If it is a grafted tree site the graft so it is facing south.  Consider the shape of the plant when placing it, they tend to grow more on the sunny side so place it to achieve balance or if in a windy site consider placing any lean towards the wind. For fire wood trees consider where it will eventually be dropped and place any lean or weight in that direction.
  • Stake if necessary, this is often needed for bare rooted fruit trees as their roots have been trimmed or larger trees to give support until established.
  • Water well and mulch around plant, this could include spreading out wet newspapers, cardboard, old carpet (wool) etc. and covering with wet straw, bark chips or old sawdust (untreated) or compost to 90 -120 mm depth. This will protect the roots, keep moisture in and control or suppress weeds. But keep mulch away from the stems of the plants.
  • If planting where there is livestock ensure plantings are protected from their reach.

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Apple trees in the main garden at Fodder farm

Many properties or paddocks I see are devoid of trees, some believe that the trees and shrubs take up valuable space or grazing. But what they do is change the space to create vertical productive space, micro climates to support other plant species, they can provide food for you and your livestock, bring in the bees and other insects for better pollination. They can actually help protect the area from drying winds and excessive sun, or absorb wetness and redirect surface water; it is all about choosing plants which will suit your property and needs. So plan, plant and enjoy…

Fodder and Forage

Fodder and Forage for Horses – a Natural System

https://grdc.com.au/resources-and-publications/groundcover/ground-cover-supplements/ground-cover-issue-79-new-farm-products-and-services-supplement/turning-rye

Food Security – Rethinking the Source 

“When all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. (The World Food Summit of 1996)

If there was a major disruption to the food supply network would you cope?

Civil Defence tells us that we need food and water for at least three days. Their recommendations are…

Non-perishable food (canned or dried food)

Food, formula and drinks for babies and small children, Water for drinking. At least 3 litres per person, per day

Water for washing and cooking

A primus or gas barbeque to cook on

A can opener

Check and replace food and water every twelve months. Consider stocking a two-week supply of food and water for prolonged emergencies such as a pandemic.

This maybe fine for a short-term situation but what if it was an extended event. For those of you who live rurally assistance may be a long time coming, roads may remain blocked for days, weeks, months…

In 1988 Cyclone Bola hit New Zealand, at that time my family was living near Matawai, a small rural settlement between Gisborne and Opotiki. The road was washed out at the bridge near our property and slips closed all other access roads. We were cut off. With no power the farming community rallied, setting up generators at a central location to run chest freezers so the local households did not lose all their frozen food stuffs. A community BBQ was held to use up any food which needed to be eaten and also boost morale among the locals. It was during one of our visits to the neighbor’s farm, about three days after being isolated, that a small plane landed and delivered supplies for the families. I remember one of the canned items was lambs’ tongues, a strange thing to be given in an emergency drop, but very amusing for us kids. We were cut off for over a week, with a school teacher unfortunately, and without power for about 3 days, but I do not remember any real hardship besides having to attend shearing quarters school for about 2 weeks.  A ford was formed across the river once the water level had dropped low enough, and this was passable by car when the river was low. Later a Bailey bridge was set up, but the actual bridge took many months to be repaired.

This is just one example of an event; the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes are other examples of disaster suddenly hitting, but the impacts have lasted for years. Recently the Hikurangi subduction zone has been in the headlines as scientists prepare the public for a future rupture of the fault. ‘The Hikurangi subduction zone runs offshore from the east of Gisborne down to the top of the South Island and “poses a significant earthquake and tsunami risk to the entire east coast of New Zealand”, says Dr Wallace.’ When this earthquake occurs, it has the potential to devastate New Zealand from the East Cape to the lower South Island and inland to areas like the Manawatu. The most recent example of this type of large earthquake is Japan 2011, imagine if that happened here… If it impacted such a large area how would we cope, there would be wide spread infrastructure damage of a scale New Zealand has never seen before, major food producing areas could be wiped out, add to that the physical and emotional trauma suffered by much of our population and it would take many, many years to recover.

Living in the rural Manawatu these are our main risk factors, flood, earthquake and snow event. During the 2017 snow drop, for some, power was out for weeks, roads blocked and communications were out. These are localised events and the Councils, power and roading companies struggle to keep up with demand. What if it was a larger event?

Do we really want to be at the mercy of an aerial food drop? Stuck waiting for the government to come to the rescue?

So, what can we do on a personal and a community scale?

We will start with location, being aware of the risk factors within your area. This is an important factor, because if you are in a high-risk zone e.g. flood zone, low coastal, unstable land or living in a city, you should follow the Civil Defence guide lines, because in a major event evacuation is probably your best bet. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put other solutions in place, it is just the reality of where you live. While evaluating your property and the surrounding community or environment, we also need to be aware of other risk factors. Fuel shortage, food supply issues (apparently there is only enough food for approximately three days in supermarkets), social unrest, financial collapse, pandemic and major power outage (EMP). I say this not to be a doomsayer but to create thought, many of these events have occurred in our past and could occur again, anytime. If you are serious about food security and resilience than you will need to consider these scenarios.

Now, Water, this comes before food. You can go 3 weeks without food but you cannot go three days without water. Where does your water come from? Town supply, roof catchment, spring, bore? What will you do if there is no power? All households should have some form of water storage, even if it is just a couple drums collecting rainwater from roof run off. But ideally the household would be able to source their yearly water use by means not reliant on electricity. This would mean adequate rainwater storage, a gravity fed spring water source, a well with manual draw up, or diversion from a creek or river etc. Electricity is a great convenience while we have it, but having non-power options which are also integrated into our systems are of great benefit. Having management over your own water collection also allows for prompt resolution if a problem emerges. The Havelock North water contamination event from 2016 comes to mind.

Food; while having a store of dried and canned foods may be beneficial in the short term it is not sustainable long term. Though having a decent supply of sea salt or kelp etc. should be considered for flavour and minerals. Producing food from your own land is a necessary factor in developing food security. The most obvious home food source is the vegetable garden, but this needs a re-think too, while rows of vegetables all nicely tilled and tended may be what comes to mind, this may not be the most practical and productive use of space. Some of the most nutritious plants in your garden are often classed as weeds. Dandelion, Puha, Fat hen, Plantain, Purslane, Stinging Nettle, Chickweed etc. These should all be encouraged, not removed (though management and selective thinning is recommended, because they will take over) Also the reliance on external inputs, fertilisers, pest and disease controls, seeds and mulch needs to be addressed.

Saving your own seeds or allowing plants to self-seed not only removes the need to purchase seed but also allows plants to adapt to your specific growing environment. Many pests and diseases can be managed by natural means, improved soil health or simply growing plants which are more resilient to your climate. Fertilisers can usually be sourced locally, if not from your own property, compost, manure, humanure (from composting toilets), rock dust, lime, wood ash, animal remains, fish remains, seaweed etc. Mulch can also be gathered locally or sourced on your own land, green manure plants can be grown as living ground cover, harvested for mulch and used to attract beneficial insects. Spent plants and pruning’s can be chopped and dropped in place to cover the ground and return their nutrients back to the soil. Using mixed plantings rather than large mono crop areas can also be of use in soil coverage and pest management.

Perennial vegetables such as Artichokes, Jerusalem Artichokes, Asparagus, NZ spinach, Day-lilies etc. create food for less work and disturbance of the soil, allowing the ground to establish networks for health. If used around annual garden areas they also provide shelter and some can support climbers such as peas or beans. Herbs, beneficial insect plants and edible flowers integrated in to your vegetable areas create diversity and assist in establishing a healthy ecosystem. Diversity is very important, a case of ‘not putting all your eggs in one basket as’ the saying goes. This allows more security if a crop should fail, for example this year we have had no plums, a hard frost hit as the trees were in blossom and wiped out the entire crop. But by planting more than we need and with a staggered blossoming/fruiting time this risk should be mitigated and if we happen to have a bumper year then there is a bounty to be shared.

Fruits and nuts can also be integrated into the vegetable area, smaller deciduous shrubs and trees can provide shade during hot summers but allow the sun through in winter. While larger trees and evergreens can be used to filter winds or planted around the southern side to create a micro-climate to protect less hardy plants. There is much information out there on creating a sustainable garden, edible garden or food forest, re-thinking the paradigm of what is a productive food garden. By embracing these concepts, the garden becomes better equipped to provide year-round and adapt to climatic changes.

But the fruit, nut, and other plant sourced foods can extend beyond our boundaries, wild harvested or foraged foods can often be found. Being aware of where these sources are, within easy travel, can greatly increase your harvest. Whether it be mushrooms, watercress, blackberries or naturalised fruit and nut trees these are all valuable food sources.

Another source of nutrition is fats and protein, for vegans that will have to fit into the garden, but for the rest of us it extends further afield. However, that said, through the raising of small animals, chickens, quail, ducks, rabbits, Guinea pigs etc. much of, if not all of, your eggs and meat can be produced from a small area like your average sized section. Dairy on the other hand will need more room. But this is where forming relationships with neighbours can really help, trading fruit and vegetables for milk or meat, while this maybe frowned upon by ‘the powers that be’, the reality is when it becomes a necessity who cares!

However, Goats (if very well contained) and milking sheep take up far less land and food than the average cow, if you want to be self-reliant in this area too. We currently have a low-line cow destined to be our little milker, she is probably a third the size of your average cow.  Making simple cheeses, butter and yogurts will extend the shelf life of your milk even without power-based refrigeration. Though a cool room/store would certainly help here. By choosing smaller breeds or animals this also assists in the need to store meat, though traditionally most larger animals are hung for several days to weeks anyway, which is not so much of an issue over winter in cooler areas. But over the warmer months, again, a cool store is of great benefit. Investigating and learning about the storage of foods e.g. pumpkins, potatoes, root crops, apples, cheese and meats without the use of power can greatly increase your level of food security.

It also pays to consider the feed aspect of your livestock, setting in place fodder and forage systems so you eliminate the need to buy in feed, Kune Kune pigs are a good example of a more sustainable livestock as they are a grazing pig and do not need to be supplemented unless grass growth slows off too much, but this can be catered for with the use of pumpkins and fodder beet etc. stored for winter feed.

When it comes to meat there is also the extended area, wild caught rabbit, turkey, eel, trout or other fish species, shellfish, deer, goat, pig and of course possum. Though it would pay to be aware of recent poisoning/baiting which may have taken place in your area and to source seafood and freshwater fish etc. from ‘clean’ areas. Contaminated food is not something to be taken lightly….

Then of course there is bugs. Huhu grubs have a long history as food in New Zealand but there are many others such as grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas and cockroaches. Mealworms, soldier fly larvae and fly maggots are often bred for high protein animal feed, again these do not take up much room and provide valuable nutrition, both as a food source in themselves and also to improve the quality of your eggs and poultry meat. Learning which insects are edible as well as fungi, native plants and in fact any plants, are essential skills to develop for food security.

This brings us to my final major aspects for food security, skills and mindset. You need to learn how to grow food, how to raise livestock, how to process it, how to cook it if needed and how to extend the harvest by simple preservation. But you also need to re-think the way you eat, simply, seasonally and without waste. Also, as nutritionally as possible, for some foods this will be fresh picked, but for cooked foods the best ways are soups, stews or casseroles as all the nutrients are contained with the pot. There are also some foods which need special ‘treatment’ before eating to make them more digestible, so understanding traditional methods of soaking, fermenting and lime treating etc. will allow foods to be more nutritious therefore you will need to eat less. With our modern diets we tend to over eat due to the lack of nutrient in many foods today, this can include meats, fruits and veges if grown/raised on nutrient deficient soils.

So, at what level is your food security?

Do you have access to clean water without the use of electricity?

Can you produce food all year round?

Do you have access to enough fats and proteins to keep you healthy?

Do you have the skills to feed yourself and your family should the worst happen?

Further reading:

https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/abcs-of-nutrition/dietary-guidelines/

http://www.koanga.org.nz/knowledgebase/design-knowledge/200-sq-m-urban-design/

http://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com/Mini-Farms.html#.XDjuW1wzbIU

http://peakoilhausfrau.blogspot.com/2010/05/resilient-gardening-part-i.html

https://www.wildernessmag.co.nz/gourmets-guide-edible-insects/

https://freezedriedemergencyfood.co.nz/bush-survival-7-new-zealand-edible-native-plants/

https://teara.govt.nz/en/1966/plants-edible-native

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2019/01/hikurangi-subduction-zone-scientists-prepare-for-imminent-threat.html

https://www.civildefence.govt.nz/

Embracing the Pioneering Spirit

As the new year approaches, we reflect on the year that has past and look forward to the year to come. In our fast-paced world, it is easy to lose sight of who we are and what we are trying to achieve in our life time. So, we need to slow down and refocus, rethink our ideas and our choices and reconnect with who we are. But we also need to appreciate what we have and look at the world with eyes wide open. To understand that we all have a story… 

I have always had an interest in living off the land, from being raised on farms in the Gisborne region. To delving into a book as old as me on my Nana’s book self, ‘The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency’ by John Seymour, which even now sits on my desk as I write. I may have taken a 17 year hiatus from living in the country but it was always still there and I never stopped gardening. Now living in rural Manawatu, we are achieving that goal, it has been a long journey with many side roads, but as they say good things take time. It has also been about changing our mind set, changing the way we think and how we choose to exist on this earth. 

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This is a story which is a part of me, one with which I have only recently reconnected, but affects me deeply and I believe partially defines who I am, where I stand in this world and how I chose to live.  

In 1874 my great, great grandparents Bernhard and Johanna Langer left their home in Moravia, Austria to come to New Zealand. Times were hard in their country and Napoleons army was calling up the young men for compulsory military service. They decided it was better to leave their farm and take up the offer from Queen Victoria to their Emperor Franz Josef, of land in the new country. With their six children and Johana’s brother Johann Schubert, they traveled to London to catch a ship to New Zealand. 

It was in London that things took a change for the worst, Bernhard a simple German speaking farmer, was tricked by confidence men (con men) and money changers while waiting for their ship. But he had paid their fare so they boarded the ship with the promise of a grant for 20 acres of land in New Zealand. The journey was a bad one, they encountered terrible storms in the Roaring Forties and the ship was so badly damaged the Captain urged all Christians on board to pray for deliverance. Thankfully two days later the storms cleared and the ship arrived safely in Lyttelton Harbour. The Moravians, Bavarians and Poles were all taken to the Provincial Governments Barracks at Addington, and were later moved to the immigration barracks at Oxford. 

But the Langers 20 acres of land was not to be, through some confusion, it appears that Bernhard did not receive their entitlement. Instead Bernhard utilise his skills learned while living as a peasant farmer in Moravia to earn a living, he found work cutting flax and then landed a job in the timber milling industry,working on the stationary steam engines at Glen Miller Estate. It was there that they realised their dream of owning land as, while the owner was away, the foreman sold them 13 acres of the estate, on which they build a small house and moved in. But this to was not to be, the owner of estate returned and declared the sale illegal and the money to be refunded. The Langers were forcibly evicted with the roof torn from their house to prevent them from returning 

Bernhard refused to give up the dream, the following year he bought 20 acres beyond Coopers creek and immediately set about occupying the land. Trees were chopped and milled and the Langers second house in New Zealand was built. Again, this was not to be, Bernhard had mistakenly built on the wrong land. He refused to leave so the Rangiora police were called and the family’s belongings were removed from the house before it was burnt to the ground in front of them. In desperate need of shelter for his family Bernhard found some unclaimed land,milled the trees and built another shack. But the Oxford police heard he was on a roading reserve and again they were evicted and their house burnt to the ground. 

Returning to Oxford they were befriended by a blacksmith, Mathias Horricks. Who generously allowed them to build on his land and wrote up a lease so they could live there rent free.   So, Bernhard built his fourth house, a more substantial one this time and they developed a garden. Sadly, in about 1880, the Blacksmiths wife died and he decided to sell the property.  The new owner ordered the Langers out.   Again, devastated, the Langers  moved, this time to a Road Board cottage near the cemetery. In six years, they had left their homeland, lost almost everything they owned and been evicted from four hand-built houses. Their dream of owning their own land seemed fated to never be. 

Then, unexpectedly, the deeds to the real land at Coopers creek turned up. Bernhard was not going to let this one go, he decided to occupy the land immediately. The local police officer in charge of the district escorted the Langers to the land, pointed out the boundary and “planted them on it”. But this was not the land Bernhard thought he had bought, instead of fertile flat it was on the cold side of a hill and clay, land that no one else would have bothered with. But it was theirs and he was determined to make it work. He built a basic hut and storage shed and then started on the main house. This time he made sun-dried bricks, diverting a stream into a hollow, he then spread rushes through it and drove some cattle into it to churn the muck. This was then shaped into bricks and dried in the sun. It took Bernhard three years to build a five-room cottage with a dried flax thatch roof. At the same time the family was clearing the land of scrub and ploughing the ground with a make shift plough pulled by their daughter Rose. Through sheer hard work and determination, they transformed their clay ground, carting humus from the bush to feed the soil and create a fertile garden. They grew many vegetables and also rye, which was ground with a wooden mortar to make bread. With a house cow for milk, ducks, geese, poultry, pigs and many beehives they finally had the self-contained farm they had dreamed of. Surplus was taken down the road to sell from a wheel barrow. This was no easy feat as to access their land the Langers had to wade through a swamp, cross a neighbours land and then follow a stream up a ravine to where their farm lay. They may have had their farm but it had come at a cost, they no longer trusted people and kept to themselves, with only a few friends among the neighbours, it was these friends who brought the Langers food in hard times, when they feared they must be close to starvation. 

But it does not end there, according to the maps and The Oxford Road Board there was a road to their farm, in reality there was not. Bernhard refused to pay the roading rates and many others in similar positions choose not to as well. The board decided to make an example of someone to encourage compliance, Bernhard was the unfortunate one. The board applied to the supreme court to have his property sold to cover the unpaid rates, a mere 5s 5d (approx 55c NZ), the process was long and Bernhard refused to budge. On the 2 August 1897 the court ordered the land to be sold, which it was, eight months later, at auction for 21 pounds. But still he refused to budge, Johann Schubert (his brother in-law) died in August 1898 and Bernhard followed him in May 1899. Four of their children had already dispersed to other parts of New Zealand, leaving only Johanna Langer, her son Joseph, aged 25 and daughter Rosalie who was now 38.  

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Then one day in the pouring rain a bailiff and a policeman came to evict them. Their meager possessions were moved on to the hillside beyond the boundary and they were ordered to never go on the property again. Neighbours and even the policeman offered to house them but she refused and built a simple shelter where they stood, with permission of the land owner. They felt bewildered at the way the “Britishers” had used them from London to the shores of New Zealand and beyond. No-one locally knew of the court proceedings and all were shocked, they would have paid the rates for the Langers if they had only known. Instead the people of Oxford, in just three months, raised enough money to buy back the farm for the Langers and cover any future rates.  Mrs Johana Langer lived in her mud brick house until her death in 1907, Joe and Rosalie staying on together after her passing. They kept mainly to themselves but the plight of the “Hermits of Ram paddock Hill” had reached the public in 1900 through an article in the “Weekly Press” and they were gifted money and some comforts. But none of this could shift Rosalie’s deep-seated resentment for the way her family had been treated nor quell the fear Joe had every time someone came to their property,  for he had been threatened with hanging for brandishing a firearm during one of their evictions. 

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Both remained on the property for most of their lives, Rosalie only leaving when, at age 78, she was injured while going home, as they still had no access road in 1937. She died in 1940 at Nazareth House. Joe continued on the land alone for some time, before being taken to a home for the aged in Oxford and then also on to Nazareth House, where he died in 1951. * 

These simple folk from Moravia built a life in New Zealand from nothing, their determination to succeed in owning their own land and their strength to fight against injustice is inspiring.  Bernhard Langer and his family built six houses from the land, while some of them may have been only simple shacks, the process of milling timber by hand means this was no simple task. To build a house from handmade mud brick gives a foundation to your home, a connection of your blood and sweat to every inch of that dwelling. To farm a poor piece of land into a fertile garden is just strengthening that bond.  

Today, not all, but most people have lost their connection with land and therefore,with the bounty it can provide us. For almost every purpose there is a natural resource and knowledge of how to use it, yet this has been stolen from us by these modern confidence men, who legislate not for the good of human kind but for their pockets. A good example of this is the building industry and how it has excluded the pioneer man from building  on their own land with natural products with-out mountains of legislation. They have created a system of forced use of inferior man-made building materials with limited lifespan. Many of these ‘improvements’ are simply not that, ten/twenty years down the track and the issues start to show, leaky buildings, asbestos, health concerns, ‘oops, sorry that is actually not safe’.  Another good example is the wool industry. Wool is a remarkable natural product that should be widely used, yet its virtually value less. Its insulating properties give it such promise and yet we still fill our walls with fibre glass. 

We, the people, rush from place to place, buying what we want without any real thought, consume, consume, consume. We work and are motivated by money so we can enjoy life and things, but yet we have no time to just be. An example of this is the yearly holiday where you rush from one activity to the next with no time to really enjoy and actually take it all in, then you feel as if you need a holiday to get over the holiday  because you are exhausted 

I look at our ancestors and think they had none of this. Most lived simple lives and what motivated them was grounded and were very real needs. In actuality our real needs are simple; warm shelter, clean water, healthy food and companionship. These are the true wealth of our world, as long as we have these everything thing else is a want. The problem in our world is that so many put their wants in front of their needs.  I feel that even though the Langers endured much hardship as a family, they were stronger and more resilient than many people I know today. They fought for their needs and for the land to provide their needs so they could maintain their independence in the corrupt  world that they encountered. In the face of adversity, they simply began  again refusing to give up on their goal. 

Many of us have a story of the pioneering spirit which brought our ancestors to the shores of New Zealand, whether we came from Britain, Europe, the Americas, China or Pacifica. It was the courage and determination of these people, the simple hardworking people not the government or confidence men, which has shaped us and our country. 

So, this year I choose to remember my great, great grandparents’ story, I thank them for the qualities they have handed down to me. Determination, resilience, the strength to stand up for my rights, the hardheadedness to not bow down to adversity and the bloody mindedness to seek our independence.  Also, the ability to appreciate the abundance we have created and are still working to create on our own land. Through this I hope to share our experiences and knowledge gained in the hope that it will help others to create their own abundance, appreciate their own achievements and develop their own  independence. We need to embrace the pioneering spirit and the resilience of these people in the face of a rapidly changing world. 

 

 

*My thanks to ‘The Press’, December 16, 1978, for the information for this story.