Doctors, nurses, blood and a whole lot of chaos…

Hi Readers,

Thank you all very much for your patience.  Victor last updated you about an acute health crisis that caused me to be away for awhile from the blog.  I’m sorry if that inconvenienced anyone or caused any concern.  As Victor probably mentioned,  I have an unusual health problem which causes me to be very sensitive (allergic) to a lot of things.  I had a reaction that led to an ambulance ride and a three-day hospital stay.  After that, today I had a pre-admission appointment which turned out to be an (almost complete) waste of time.  My previous hospital stay had revealed some unexpected things about me, which has meant that flags were assigned to my health file.  Those red flags have caused my cardiologist to rethink the minor operation I was supposed to have tomorrow (10 July).  He’s postponed it until he can arrange for two other specialists to attend the operation.  He basically wants backup because he’s afraid that the drugs, the surgery itself, or a lack of good IV access (or a combination of these) will cause a negative outcome! On the other hand, at least it means that we should have all our ducks in a row for the procedure itself.

So now we wait and try to get my symptoms managed until we can proceed with the minor operation.  I need to see a few more people before I’ll be in good enough health to write more consistently.

On the home front, we are still making (an albeit slow) process of getting our house on the market.  We discovered a major drainage issue which is now (thankfully) resolved.  We’ve made a large leap on the packing process and the tidying up process.

We have also spent a bit of time actually looking at what we’d like in our future home build.  We know that we want to prepare for a future in which one or the other of us will be ‘less’ able so we’re planning on building an “accessible” home with double wide doors, bigger hallways (if any), and probably walk-in or wet-area shows.  We will likely do ramps instead of stairs on the entryways as well.  In the short term this makes it easier to get our wee one’s buggy in and out the door, but in the long term, it will make our home safe in our old age.

Keep your eyes out because we’ll likely be putting a post up with our “dream” home blueprint soon.  We may even show you what we decide on when we go to talk with a builder.  We are also close to finding the right land for us.

Stay tuned and God bless you and your household!

~Grace

Another unexpected event

Hi Everyone,

So some of you who live in New Zealand may remember that there was a significant flooding event last winter in suburban Christchurch when a few of the rivers were overrun after a storm.  Fortunately, our house itself did not have ingress of water, but our yard and side yards were flooded up to the top of a gumboot (around 1-2 feet) in places.  We noticed after the flood receded that our yard was not draining as quickly as it used to and so the other day we called a plumber out to clear the drains.  We initially thought they might just be blocked.  It turns out that the flood waters caused more damage than we thought.  The flood apparently brought lots of silt and debris which has filled our soak pit which will prevent the water from draining away.  We also discovered that the soak pit is buried underneath one of our outbuildings!

As you would expect it’s going to be a bit costly to fix this problem and it must be done before sale.

As a piece of advice towards anyone who is buying a new property, please try to get an excellent building inspector. Ask around to see who is best or better yet, hire two different ones if you can afford it.  Make sure you’re present at the inspection.  Finding nearly $15k worth of problems over the last 2 1/2 years that the building inspector certified as being in “good condition” which were not even up to code has left an especially bad taste in my mouth.  Make sure you know the basics of current council requirements for houses.

As always – have a great week and keep following Kiwi Homesteading for more updates.

~Grace

Delays

Hi Guys,

Sorry for such a long break between posts. Sometimes real life can get in the way of being able to communicate clearly. Right now I’m going through a few things that are pretty challenging, and so you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t post right away.  Victor and I have recorded part of a segment on the property we’re actively looking at now. I’m not sure if it will be “the one” or not and I’m not even entirely sure we’re ready for the next big move, but hopefully we’ll hear some answers soon and things will get easier.  For now, please stay with us and keep bringing us your encouraging comments and your wonderful friendship.  Thank you for being so patient!

~Grace

10 Subscriber Milestone!

Hi everyone,

I thought I would share that we’ve reached 10 subscribers! Wow! I want to thank everyone who has followed our journey thus far and encourage you all that even though things haven’t quickly moved in the direction, we’d like, we’re still striving for our future goals.  We haven’t given up our dream of building up a small rural lifestyle block, and we’re still working to find solutions to our property situation!  Your support means everything to us, and with your help, we’ll eventually reach our next milestone of 50 subscribers.  When we reach that goal, we’ll host a special event so don’t miss out.  As always, please like and subscribe if you enjoy our page.  Visit us on facebook too if you’d like to get in touch! Keep busy and have fun! God Bless you!

~Grace

Sickness and more possibilities for property!

Hi all,

I’m sure you have all been wondering where we’ve been and why we haven’t posted in awhile.  Well, right after our big adventure post, Victor the kids and I all came down with the flu! We all spent pretty much the whole of last week with 39°C/102.2°F fevers.  Our youngest two children are recovering pretty slowly with runny noses, sore throats and a lot of tummy troubles.

Meanwhile, Victor and I have been browsing the internet on properties!  We found one with a small home on it for sale in our price range near one of the big rivers north of Christchurch.  We also saw a lifestyle size section of bare land that is quite desirable for us.  The section has 3 large tiered paddocks (upper, middle and lower) and a small extra bit of property that has a creek, massive trees and small waterfall in it.   It’s also wholly deer fenced so we won’t have to worry about stock getting stuck in there or mucking up the water, but we can still access it for picnics or an afternoon dip on hot days!

I’ll update this post with some pictures I took as soon as my camera and my phone are charged up enough to download them!

~  Grace

An Unexpected Journey

Yesterday was a warm Saturday afternoon in late autumn. During the week, we had found another possible rural property, this one in the valley of the Okuku River, one of the tributaries of the Ashley River in North Canterbury. About 3:30 in the afternoon, we left where we are staying, drove out there, stopped at the bridge to walk the puppy (more on her later) and were on our way back around about sunset.

This is where things got interesting. I was driving, as I usually do on family trips, and when we were in the village of Loburn and about to turn right to go to Rangiora and so eventually back home, Grace asked me to turn left instead. It was about 5:00, and late afternoon was giving way to sunset.

We headed up the valley, a pleasant green space mostly occupied by small farms. We passed one or two more farms and blocks for sale and made a note to look them up later, and through Loburn North and on to White Rock, which we think got its name from a stunning limestone outcrop, now an active quarry and lime works but still with the rock face clearly visible to travellers. We wished we had brought our good camera with us. Note to self, do so in future.

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The route over the Okuku Pass and through Lees Valley. We made it approximately 40% of the way before our path was blocked by the Okuku River.

The last few houses petered out, and we headed up towards the Okuku Pass. We climbed on a narrow gravel road through mixed pine and beech forest, and up into subalpine tussock and matagouri. At this point, we hoped to follow the road through to Lees Valley, coming out near the Ashley Gorge and the town of Oxford.

Coming down from the Okuku Pass, the road became more challenging and the countryside more isolated. Descending down a series of hairpin bends, we came upon a murky stream of uncertain depth that blocked our path. We tried to go around on what appeared to be a dry weather route, and the bank was too steep for our car. We were just considering turning around when another car (not a four wheel drive or SUV) came along and drove calmly through the ford. The driver said he was just going for a drive, but seemed a little lost and asked us if the way would take us back to the main road. Thinking he meant the main road at Oxford, we said it would and set out after him.

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The crossing of the Birds Eye Stream, the first of many fords we encountered on our journey.

For the next half hour or more, as darkness fell, our impromptu convoy drove through a starlit landscape of barren hills, punctuated by the occasional farm gate, somewhat more frequent fords over the small streams that drain the hills, and various animals (mostly rabbits and hedgehogs, but also two horses). Finally, we found our way blocked by what we think was the upper Okuku River, still a substantial stream and impassable to either of our vehicles. After some work to get out of the gravel riverbed typical of Canterbury’s braided rivers, we turned around and went back the way we had come under the dim light of the rising new moon.

The following clip is a typical ford crossing in our people mover. You can hear Grace practicing her poise and dignity while Stargazer cheers us on from the back seat.

We were a little concerned for our travelling companion, a road construction worker, who said that he was low on petrol and furthermore that one of his tyres was flat, so we took care not to lose him as we drove back. It was now well after 7 p.m. and he would have to make it to Rangiora, the nearest town by road with a 24-hour service station (or, for that matter, any service station). Seldom has a sealed road and the sight of the distant clustered lights of a large town been more welcome than when we came back over the Okuku Pass and down into White Rock.

Not long after that, our lost companion (who had been trying to make it to Waiau in far north Canterbury, accessible via a quite different road) pulled over, saying that his tyre was so flat as to be unusable. In a strange injection of modern city slicker technology into a country setting, we performed a field tyre change by the light of a smartphone (we, naturally, carrying a jack and a wheel spanner with us at all times). We finished the day’s adventures by escorting the gentleman to the nearest petrol station, taking a hungry and weary family to McDonald’s, and returning home for a long sleep.

We still don’t know all of why Grace was led to feel as though turning left at Loburn, instead of right, was the thing to be done. But for us it was an opportunity to learn more about trusting God, help someone in need, and have a family adventure. We also learned that there is a limit to the remoteness we’re physically and mentally equipped for as yet, a valuable lesson as we consider our next steps.

~ Victor

Property Woes

Hi everyone!

I thought I would start our day with a brief update on where we are at.  As you know we began our journey at our city home and have gotten to the point where we are ready to move out to a larger homestead or lifestyle block.  We put an offer in on a residence outside Christchurch, the big city on the south island of New Zealand.   The house is very old (made in the early 1900s) and in poor shape but we thought we might be able to fix it up affordably.  The price seemed right for that, but as we began to do our due diligence on the property (property inspections, engineer’s reports etc.) we discovered many things that we did not expect.  Some of the things we discovered were minor, but then we got a big bombshell dropped on our heads.  The engineer and the building inspector both reported that the house had substantial borer beetle damage in the timber subfloor and the foundations were even worse than we first believed! We took this information to the vendor’s insurance company to see if we could get continued home insurance and of course, there was a resounding NO!  They were completely unaware that the home had not received any maintenance at all over the last 5 1/2 years since the vendors had purchased it.  We think this may well cause other problems for the vendors’ insurability even now, but we won’t go into that.

The home and improvements are worth approximately $150,000NZD on Rateable Value “RV” (New Zealand’s government appraisal for property tax purposes).  The insurer says they will not cover the home unless and until a number of problems they consider critical are remedied to what they (the insurance company) think an acceptable level.  They require any future buyer to

  1. Replace/repair the foundations on the whole property where needed,
  2. Fix the subfloor by removing and replacing any borer damaged timber,
  3. Replace the roof,
  4. Rewire the whole house
  5. Replace all interior gib (plasterboard) as it is scrim and sacking which is a fire hazard.
  6. Replace all the plumbing to current code standard as it is an old type which is significantly prone to leaking.
  7. Replace weatherboard and external cladding.

If you look at this list and add them up in your head you’ll realise as we did that they’re basically asking us to build a brand new house.  The only things that are allowed to remain are any existing timber structure that is not damaged by borer beetle, and surface things such as joinery and cabinetry.  Thus we’ve come into a big problem.  We are willing to purchase the property as land only for a fair price but the vendors believe they will get the full price of RV land plus improvements value prior to our findings and are not willing to accept significantly less. We understand that they’re in a difficult situation – they probably bought the house for much more than it was worth even then and can’t afford to sustain a loss of this magnitude on it. But we can’t afford to get them out of this mess, and none of the banks would be willing to lend to new buyers on a house like that in any case.

So where does this leave the Kiwi Homesteading family? We’ve instructed our lawyer to pull the plug on our offer.  Now, this doesn’t mean we are giving up on finding land, and we aren’t even giving up entirely on this particular section.  All it means is that we’re telling the vendors that their desires for that property are unrealistic and we expect them to either come up with a better price or they can go back on the market again.  We also expect (given the recently added properties of much better quality in the area at similar prices) that they will not find anyone to buy it at their asking price.

~Grace