Back in Action

Hi Everyone!

We know you’ve all been waiting patiently and urgently praying for our family’s health recovery.  Thankfully, it seems we’re through the worst of it!  We are about a week and a half away from listing our old house and eager to start a renewed push for finding that “special” place to call home.

Many of our readers will be aware of our previous property offers which were not so successful, and some might ask why we’re still making this move at all.  The critical thing to be reminded of is that this isn’t just a “whim” or a “dream” to us.  It isn’t something we’re jumping into without research, and it isn’t just a phase or emotional response to our situation as a whole. This is our goal, our future.  This is something that we know must happen and we’ve heard God’s firm call to it.  There have been many setbacks, but that hasn’t changed what we are hearing from God himself.

For reasons unknown to us God has asked us to walk through a dark and scary, illness and chaos, filled valley to show us His grand plan for our lives.  We feel He’s shown us that the right section will come not only if we are patient, but if we fulfil His requirements of us first.  One of those has been for Grace to learn to trust Him more and to fight once again with a renewed spirit for her own life.  She had many setbacks healthwise which made her doubt her purpose, but through attention to detail and a whole lot of prayer, Victor and Grace have worked through those health crises.

We’re reminded of Today’s Verse of the day in our experiences:

Matthew 6:34 says: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble”.

Whenever we’ve doubted God’s plan, we’ve been made aware that He is listening to our every thought.  Just recently Grace mentioned out loud that she was disappointed Victor would not be able to carpool with a workmate if we move further out to Oxford.  Then God showed us (when we visited a potential section recently) that a likely new neighbour was working right across the road from Victor and that neighbour even brought up the desire to carpool with Victor as a desirable thing.

When Grace had doubts about her ability to traverse the steep slopes of one property in the rain and mud, God showed her that another property was as flat as a pancake and had excellent drainage but and no possibility of damp setting in.  Grace’s desires that the children have a place to play with trees has also shown up there.  Victors love of mountains and hope to not get “bored” with what surrounds him was also taken into mind.  Even the chickens and the dog have been considered with fencing where we need it right away.

All along God has been guiding us, showing us what we need to do, and what we need to avoid.  He’s given us lessons to guide us in our choices as the landscape of the earth changes.  We know now that we can’t do this ourselves and we’ve been truly humbled by the amount of help we’ve received in hard times from our church and our friends.  We will be forever grateful for the support that God sent our way to help us push through these seemingly impossible feats.  Our only wish is that we’d not doubted in the first place and trusted in Him entirely from the beginning!

If you like reading our blog please feel free to click the like and subscribe buttons so that you can stay informed about everything that happens as we keep exploring God’s creation and bringing you more of our fun adventures!

May God be with you today as always!

~From all of us here @kiwihomesteading

 

 

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Two steps forward, one step back

Dear friends and readers,

Please accept our apologies for this long break. While we have been doing our best to keep this blog updated, the complexities of life have threatened to overwhelm us. We’re surfacing for long enough to give this update.

We’ve posted before about a few days of illness. What we didn’t say at the time is that Grace has been unwell since partway through her pregnancy with Ducky, a sickness that has caused her ever-increasing pain as well as fatigue and heart trouble. After several months of this illness, and multiple doctor’s appointments with no clear way forward, last Friday (29 June) we went to Wellington to see a specialist. While Grace was able to get a provisional diagnosis and start treatment, it was too late to prevent her from becoming so unwell that she needed emergency treatment in hospital.

She is now well enough that she has been discharged, but is still weak, tired and in considerable pain. We are resting at her parents’ place so that we have help with the children, since I am still working full time.

This chain of events hasn’t weakened our resolve. On the other hand, it has strengthened it, for two reasons. One is that Grace’s condition seems to be exacerbated by mould and pollution, both of which are very common in Christchurch during winter. The other is that while we hope that Grace can make a full recovery and enjoy many healthy years, it may be that we face times when she or another member of our family is temporarily disabled. The best way to be able to manage that is to have a suitably accessible house.

At the same time as all this was unfolding, we discovered a feature of our current home that was contributing to our particular mould problem. While we try to keep a clean and dry home, the grounds outside were not so dry, and flooded every time we had a substantial rainfall. I thought this was simply a result of a blocked storm drain, and called in a tradesman to flush the lines. It turned out that most of our storm drains went not to the street, but rather to a device called a “soak pit”. A soak pit is a hole in the ground filled with rubble and surrounded by a filter cloth, which collects water in the hollows between the rubble, from where the water gradually drains away. But over time the filter cloth becomes clogged, and eventually the soak pit stops working. This happened to us during a heavy rainfall last year.

So, in preparation for sale, we have had to get new storm drains put in. In the short to medium term, this will help us to have a better property and a healthier life while we’re there; in the long term, the new owners will have a superior drainage solution.

Peace,

~Victor

A “Grace-full” evening

My birthday fell this year on a Monday.  Birthdays are the few days a year that we go out for dinner, so we decided to go a night early.  This year I wanted to try a small Japanese Restaurant in Rangiora called “Secret“.

Secret Japanese is hands down the best Japanese I have eaten in New Zealand.   I have tried many different restaurants all over the globe, but this one is up there with the better ones.  New Zealand Japanese Food is usually about par for the course (excuse the pun) with the likes of pop-up sushi shops on every corner, but tonight I got to taste some pretty darn good sushi from their sushi and teppanyaki chef.  The evening’s meals consisted of 3 sushi rolls which were quite large quantities compared with most and reasonably priced.  The most substantial roll had 14 large pieces.  We shared one rainbow roll, one dragon roll and a new one for me which was called a Godzilla roll.  The Godzilla was a California style roll with shrimp instead of the usual imitation crab.   It also had cashew nuts sprinkled on top and a wonderfully sweet glaze with a sharp, tangy ending note.  We also had their teppanyaki, mostly because it was late and the kids get bored quickly.  Little Duckie is still feeling unwell too, so it was nice that she wasn’t too easily disturbed by the shouts and cries of her older sisters which have become standard experiences when out to eat.  The manager was very accommodating and came around many times to clear dishes or entertain the little ones so that we could enjoy our evening in peace.   The customer service at Secret is fantastic.  When they did not have an item they sent someone out to get it rather than having to change my order.

The teppanyaki was delicious.  Each course was not overly rich or oily and had mild to moderate spice to complement the choice of meat, vegetable or fish.  Our two oldest girls had salmon (a treat I know, but they eat it rather than play with their chicken, so it works out more cost-effectively with very little on the floor).  Victor and I had a mixed set from the menu which came with seafood, steak, veggies, chicken, and rice as well as the customary miso soup and salad.   My parents also had set menu items as well as my brother.  After dinner, the manager greeted my husband and I privately and said that the kid’s menu item did come with a bit of frozen yogurt, but he didn’t want to offer it to them without speaking to us first.  So they enjoyed a nice dark chocolate one.  He also informed me that I would be welcome to have a frozen yogurt on the house because it was my birthday.  I shared this with Victor too as it was much too large for me to eat after such a wonderfully large dinner meal.

Cost wise I’d rank Secret as somewhere in the modest middle for a meal of this size and quality.  Each of adult dinner sets runs from $35-50NZD, drinks are extra, but water is free and served cold.  The restaurant itself is immaculate and well presented.   The music played varies from classic rock, soft rock, and some lighter notes with classical music.  It was not loud and even when other families were chatting I could always keep up with conversations around the table.  As I’m hard of hearing on my left side it’s quite nice to have a conversation and not have to shout because of the noise.

We ended the night’s meal and returned to my parent’s house to round out the night with an ice cream “Mud Pie” which is my preferred dessert for a birthday cake substitute.

It was a good night.  Hope you had a good one too!

~Grace

The Lord speaks and we obey

In today’s post,

I will talk about something I’ve had on my heart to write about, but I didn’t really know what to say. You see, Victor and I are firm believers, but we are also cautious to write much about our views in a public forum because topics like religion and politics are very polarising (and quite emotionally aggressive) today. We don’t want to end up with people trolling us or making our lives difficult, but at the same time, we do want people to know where we are in Christ. We are reformed Presbyterians. We believe that God, through His son, Jesus, saved us from our sins through grace alone.  By this, we mean we cannot do anything to “win” or earn our salvation. It’s not up to us to try to get His love because it’s a free offering to anyone who believes and puts his trust in Jesus (John 3:16).

In New Zealand, there are a lot of different people from different backgrounds. Religion and belief in God are not central to the New Zealand way of life. Practising Christians aren’t exactly rare, but they are not as common as they used to be and the world as a whole is becoming more hostile to anyone who does not share the same beliefs as the status quo.  We want this site to be a page where anyone can come to gather information without feeling judged, but also a page where many might see through our actions what a real honest family does to represent God on the Earth.  We are by no means a perfect family, and we will undoubtedly make a lot of mistakes, but God offers forgiveness and helps us to grow.  That growth is what we want you to see.

This week we have learned that God is asking us to wait on Him for the right time to sell our current house and purchase the next.  He’s shown us that right now the market isn’t strong enough to list our home. There are properties that we could buy, but we believe that God is telling us a better option (or perhaps even one of the same options) awaits us in the future. So for right now, we will stay where we are and wait until springtime to sell. We will continue to blog on this page, talk about our progress with our home, bring you stories about our newest companion, and have many more fun adventures as time goes on. Please stay in touch and share our adventure with your friends!

~Grace

New Ground

Hi Guys,

Instead of posting the pictures on my last blog post I will include them in this post.  Victor and I have set off on this adventure with new vigour.  We’ve contacted several banks as well as talked to the local council in the area we are considering purchasing land.  We also got some positive comments back on one property that appears to not only be in our budget but also has very sensible covenants.

A Covenant, also called a building scheme, is a restriction placed on a title or a LIM usually with the aim of maintaining the quality of the subdivision and the value of the properties subject to the covenant.  These can sometimes be very aggressive with regards to what the purchaser can do with his or her newly acquired land, but most of the time the restrictions are just about what type of house you can put on it and other things like that.  I’ve read about one particularly nasty section with covenants which mainly limited the buyer from growing anything on the 5-hectare block except for standard grass. The developer said that even pumpkins were considered “pests” and would become out of control if allowed.  Can you imagine having 10 acres of lawn?  I can’t… that’s like having your own golf course for a backyard.

Please have a look at this beautiful stretch!

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New Ground

The land is advertised to be 4 hectares (10 acres) in size. It has some extra bits which we think make it a bit more special than the others available in this subdivision.  It’s a bit more affordable because the developer believes the included creek and trees are a downside to the property.  It does contain a significant drop off on the second level, but that part is fully fenced off and contained so that animals cannot get to it.  The trees do make the middle section a bit more damp in the rain, but they made some improvements to the drainage so it won’t cause any issues for stock.  The trees are mostly over the creek area which is not somewhere we would build and not somewhere stock would go anyway!

You can’t see how significant the drop off is from these angles, but I will probably get a better shot of it at a later date if we go ahead with the purchase of this property.


The property has deer fencing, and all the paddocks are enclosed.  I’ve tried to show you as many shots of the various tiers as I could, but I didn’t go into the upper or lower sections.

So what do you guys think?  As always if you like seeing our adventures and you like reading our blog please like, subscribe and share it with your friends so we can continue to bring you content!

Thanks for reading!

~ 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