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We buy a hill

Once we Earthlings reach a certain age, many of us are inclined to look for a different lifestyle as we realise we have fewer years in front of us than are behind us. Some choose to travel extensively, some relocate to be nearer children and grandchildren, some downsize and move into town so social lives can take precedence over home and section maintenance. Then there are those who do just the opposite …

As a child, Judy Sutherland dreamed of life as a farmer’s wife. When neither husband turned out to be a farmer, she took it upon herself to fulfill her rural dream. Follow Judy’s blog every fortnight, to read about how she happened to buy a hill, and everything after that.

Once we Earthlings reach a certain age, many of us are inclined to look for a different lifestyle as we realise we have less years in front of us than are behind us. Some choose to travel extensively, some relocate to be nearer children and grandchildren, some downsize and move into town so social lives can take precedence over home and section maintenance.

Then there are those who do just the opposite—we up-size and move out of town, so we can live a lifetime dream of owning a little more land than the city section allows.

Reasons for this vary from the simple desire to escape city living, to a perceived need to grow things and add to the continuance of the ecological welfare of our world.  What is grown varies from vegetables, flowers and trees—exotic, native or food-bearing—to animals from chooks, pigs or sheep, to the more interesting varieties as alpacas or miniature horses. Some of us simply have a desire to become farmers.

My husband and I did just that. Though, to be honest, I’m the one who had the dream of becoming a farmer, or marrying one to be more precise. And having married for the second time a few years ago, I decided that increasing our land size from a few hundred square metres to a few thousand was as close as I was likely to get, not willing to trade in present spouse.

Husband Jim’s motive for extending our living acreage was more focused on building a shed large enough to contain his building equipment plus vehicles plus workshop, followed by the construction of his dream home.

So, following a search of a year or so, we happened upon a hill. Yes, a hill. Now this hill was accessible via a walk over the current owner’s farm. Down a rough, rutted and slippery track, past the picturesque pohutakawa tree under which the sheep shelter and up an even more muddy, rough and slippery track.

Oh, did I mention the vehicles we passed?  Vehicles as in wrecked vehicles, that is. No? Well, there seemed to be several dozen of these on our short walk to the hill. But more about them later.

Not our junk

The Real Estate Agent carefully ignored this conglomeration of rust and suggested the zig-zag track wouldn’t take too much money or effort to seal. (How would he know?)

Now I must digress and introduce my 80-plus-year-old mother, who lives in a unit adjoining our home.  Consequently, when we move, so also must she. I promised myself that I would take care of her as long as I was able—and I’m horrified at the cost of retirement homes! As we were inspecting the hill, Mother was watching from the safety of the car.

Now, Mother is physically active and walks every day. She also drives a car, but only during daylight hours, through as few intersections as possible and ninety-nine point nine percent of the time in forward gear. Get the idea? Mother is not a confident driver: only her close friends will drive with her; family members drive her!

So, while Jim and I explained that Mother would not even attempt to drive such a long, windy driveway, even if sealed, Real Estate Agent suggested that we build a small unit for Mother on a handkerchief-sized grassy patch on the roadside. I thought a ’causeway’ down the gully and back up the other side would be more feasible but, then, how would I know?

Looking out to sea

To continue our ramble, we negotiated a steep bank, avoided grabbing hold of gorse seedlings, minded our knees didn’t leave imprints in sheep droppings and stood atop the hill to see what we could see. I was sold! Here was my ‘slice of heaven’. Looking beyond the further accumulation of non-decomposable waste below what would be our front door and in a 270 degree turn, I could see the mountain, the ranges, the sea—facing north, west and south and unable to be obstructed by man-made structures. The remaining ninety degrees, I decided, could be removed, cleaned up or sheltered from view by Jim-made structures.

The tranquility, serenity, peace was amazing. The sound of birds; the sweet fragrance of the countryside; fresh air on our faces; a voice screaming from over the gully, “Those cars will all be moved!” With a promise like that who could resist?

Consequently, we purchased our gorse-covered hill with the wondrous views (keeping one’s eyes focused above nine to three o’clock) and the fun of learning to become farmers began …

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