Last year I bought a microwave oven. ‘So what!’ I hear you say, ‘everyone has one.’ Well, for us it was a big deal and a sign of how far we had come. In 1995, we bought a piece of land without house, power or telephone and for a long time we couldn’t afford any of them. We sold everything we could to buy the farm and embark upon the biggest adventure of our lives.
We first saw the 430 acres of bush and farm with the Man of the House’s brother. He had camped up there and knew the owners were selling so took us to see the waterfall and collect native tree seedlings for our garden. He may have had an ulterior motive. He knew we dreamt of owning a bit of bush and I was turning our back yard into a miniature version of te Urewera National Park.
We arrived with winter sunshine highlighting every shade of green on the ridges and pockets of mist rising from the stream. The Man of the House fell instantly in love with the beauty and isolation and decided he had to have it. He dropped this bombshell on me a few days later when I was out in the garden, planting the seedlings we had collected. I take time to warm up to new ideas, especially big ones like this and I burst into tears. I thought he’d lost his mind.
Neither of us had permanent jobs; as an antidote to my previous life as a Probation Officer, I had started a small business doing garden maintenance for mostly elderly ladies and The Man of the House was earning a few dollars repairing motorbikes from home. It was a carefree life; no mortgage and just enough work to get by. Perhaps we were marking time; too young to retire but not sure what to do next, waiting for an opportunity. Once I’d had time to chew over the idea though, I was in and we started to plan the new future.
The farm was up for tender and ours won; 200 acres of bush and an equal area of rough pasture was almost ours. But first, we had to find full time jobs, which was the easy part and sell our home, a converted packing shed without council consent, the hard part. The lack of legal paperwork for our house scared potential buyers off and lowered the price which meant we had to lease out the new farm to cover the mortgage. It was going to be tight but we would make it work.
It took time and thankfully the people selling the farm wanted us to have it. They waited, and a few months later, we adopted out or stored everything we owned except our clothes, bed, table, 2 chairs and 2 seater settee and moved to our new home.
We started with kerosene lamps, a two burner gas stove, a solar shower, bucketing water up from the stream, no power, no bathroom (a toilet seat on a beer crate over a hole, umbrella essential on wet days) and no money. Now we have a mostly finished log house, water wheel produced power and cell phone coverage on a good day. It’s been a long road from those early days of kerosene lamps to comparing the merits of microwave ovens and at times it felt like we would never get this far. But, as it says on a fridge magnet my sister gave me when we moved, the longest journey does not begin until the first step is taken.
Over the next little while, I will share a bit of the journey so far.