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The gate is a prayer retreat center in Otaki Forks, New Zealand
prayer, new zealand, retreat, otaki, otaki forks, david campbell, kathleen campbell, the gate
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Changes and opportunities

the amazing environment here is the environment for having birds and pests. We are having a new activity of bird monitoring with 3 monthly walks on the Arcus Dam track listening for 5 minutes every 200 metres. It is amazing to learn new bird sounds that have been present here for years without me knowing what they were. So the tomtit call has become the one I hear even around the house. It’s an exciting thing to hear them in the numbers that we found plus the possibility of a rifleman being at the second creek ( heard but not seen).

Great to have the young people here doing the Papa Taiao pest control course for 2 days. Inspired to keep going with the encouragement about what we are doing here. I have been focusing on how to monitor the wetas that may be here. I have put out some bamboo lengths on the track and on tracks around the house. In an attempt to make a different type I have taken some macracarpa firewood bits into a weta hotel by buying a tool to help with cleaning out the centre……a new skill to learn.

Another change is the slipping nature of the river side of the road. Workers are now putting together a support about 1 km from the house across the Pukeatua stream bridge leaving the digger and other equipment in the area across the road from the house entrance. Yesterday a line of cones appeared close to the Springs Paddock river side as the road has sunk over the past weeks where vehicles turn…. is this the future place of a land slip. It is possible? Do we need to have a vehicle prepared on the other side of the Blue Bluffs slip face?

Spring days for 2020

Back in Level 2 has meant few changes for us, with more people distancing outside the grocery stores and in public settings/meetings, a few people wearing masks but mostly it’s life a usual.

We have had a great spell of warm spring weather now we have the rain of spring, most welcome after such a dry period. Pity it’s a bit cooler with now sunshine to heat the house. The underfloor and rayburn are welcomed at this time. We had a trip with the trailer one afternoon to collect dead gorge from the side of the road… the hottest burning wood available I believe… it was mostly easily broken up after just pulling it out of the ground only needing the chainsaw for the thicker stems. There’s more to collect if we so wish. It has been sprayed by road side spraying contractors.

We are glad for spring flowers again… in the garden -daffodils, on the tree tops- clematis looking like butterflies waving in the wind, the corybas orchids with their spider like flowers seen again on the road reserve, tiny white flower pieces from some native tree that puts a confetti like cover on the tracks, So life is stirring into action again… birds getting ready for laying as I guess that’s why there are more flocks of tui about.

Walkers still enjoy the track to the dam….some commenting that it’s a spiritual, walk others that it’s refreshing, of course it’s wet underfoot as it’s in the shade at this time of year.

Water tank filling from a spring.

It’a been a journey that started during lockdown with thoughts about spring water at the Springs Paddock to the north of the house. I had tried to get spring water into a tank after the pad was made during the time of the slip in 2016 but it dried up… the lower spring.

David read me some verses from the story of Caleb in the book of Joshua and how is daughter asked for land, with upper and lower springs. That caught my attention so I then went looking to see if there was water behind the first level of the slip site where there were ditches behind each level. Sure enough and when I tapped it I found it flowed at 1 litre a minute.

So the journey of getting advice, pipes, fittings and the tank into the area which is filling as I write. Yesterday 24 July 2020 we joined it all together. I have had help at each stage with pulling the tank into position and making the site for it to rest. Another friend pulled the pipe from the area the water is to flow then yesterday David and Steve ( DOC) helped me put the intake into place supported by a piece of spouting. I joined the intake made of conduit with holes in it to that pipe and way it flowed. Hopefully the tank will be still filling and I have tried to put an overflow system away from the tank so it’s not undermined. It’s all amazing and as Steve said another thing to maintain . The Springs paddock now has access to clean and flowing water at the bottom level at the pad, so is getting ready for someone to come and stay. Not sure what it but it’s getting more prepared for a housebus, hut, caravan or something! Mind you it can be a windy spot but from there we could see the snow on the tops of the mountain yesterday.

winter chills

It’s been cold over the past few days as others have found but a good day for all after the storm. Of course there was slip further in as we realised with a digger and trucks hauling fall material away down Gorge road for dumping yesterday. It’s been time for inside jobs… cleaning and sorting in the garage and time to be still with reading. It’s been amazing to see the rata vine flowering for the last 2 months…great red flowers as a highlight in the bush and at the river. Great to have some fantails flitting around the area of the house.

We had a short break in a bach in Otaki and then 2 nights in Wellington. Would you believe we had our first swim then spa at the local council pools in 19 years followed by a roast dinner at the RSA, another first. So it was a good break with books to read and family to see.

Work changes over the winter. The indoor jobs call. Retreats are possible with a house warmed by the boiler and underfloor heating plus the ambiance from the rayburn stove in the kitchen(great for slow cooking in the oven).

Winter has come with varying days

the work outdoors is lessening although the garden called yesterday to dig up yams and jerusalem artichokes. A good supply hidden under dirt and grass. I was able to weed the beds and put most weeds where the now 7 hens are grazing, digging and dust bathing.

David with the help of Sean have been working on completing pruning and improving the dam track so that the quad can now go to the last creek. What a major change after 3 years of no access for the last 1 1/2 km of the track. It is welcomed for carrying tools.

Guests for 2 weekends have come and gone. Challenging some of them but overall it was a special time for them. We are considering how we have a break away from this place…to a warm place? Sorry all flights to Rarotonga are still cancelled. There is a spar pool in Otaki Public pools so that’s an option, mind you we had a neighbour come have a bath here during the week as she is in house truck accommodation without one.

Overcast days, a frost or 2, some rain and so it’s generally cooler. Good time to kill bugs I hope as I saw a large green backed beetle on the deck the other day, not wanted here. The climbing rata has been flowering for a month so that’s a good colour for this time of year…. red flowers covering the plant which the bees go for. Time of year to go to bed early, yeh!

Updating action of late

There’s been a major job done on the slip that had settled with 2 fallen kamahi trees about 3 years ago. With three extra helpers we had the trees cut into lengths, plants uplifted for repotting, earth moved to make a track and drainage done …. about 8 hours work …but there’s more been done to make it safer to take the quad across. All this to help us with track work further on. An amazing experience and educational with fungi, ferns and worms to add to the interest. (Photograph of before action)

It has taken me days to get the potting done, and with the boldness of David getting more pots that were used from Harrison’s nursery the job progresses. I have the new shelter house set out with plants and so we need to get some to move on with giving and sales.

Visitors call sometimes to use the phone having walked from the Forest Park after staying overnight, people coming to stay again with helpers for work on the dam track. It is amazing what conversations with people. It is great to have water tables improved, looking on the property in new ways especially the gift of help to do the first bird monitoring after all these years of pest control…. we saw and heard tuis, bellbirds, silvereyes, chaffinches, tomtits, a kereru and then 2 NZ falcons flying about at the dam ( our last post). We will have another of these in September.

You felt it too I expect

Hearing the overnight rain was great but the unexpected shake of 7.56 based in Levin was a surprise for many and a bit unsettling for sure. No damage noticed but I did think the turtle position was a good one to have beside my chair as I was reading my bible and thinking about the passage.

I have all the possum leg traps at home again after that big effort. A load of our collected rubbish headed out with Steve this morning so some things are getting back to normal. Visitors yes but no church gatherings yet. It seems paradoxical that men can get together to play rugby or soccer but not meet it a church building. How do we move forward from here in small groups? Probably the best for connecting with people for sure.

A quiet day reflecting and writing up a document on the many ways we have seen God provide for us over the past 44 years as a married couple in the places where we have lived up to today. Financial, physical help, encouragement and support on the way, etc. A good exercise for me to be grateful over the many things that have been showing that God is good.

Finished after lots of walking and many hours doing it.

The season of catching, killing and plucking possums on the dam track from tbe beginning of Level 3, now we are in Level 2 of the lockdown. I have had few days break in the middle but for all that effort I caught 30 possums so thats a good number to no longer have ranging there. It was a good goal but I feel over it now, especially as I did a 7 km walk today and collected up most traps and carried back 5 possums in case a neighbour wanted them for meat for his dogs or the bones he was was looking for as part of his craft work. Now to bundle it up and courier it to Woodville to the factory to get $93.50 a kg. I wonder if the price has gone down with the tourist market gone as I had in the past got up to $ 130 per kg.

We are enjoying more contact with locals and friends and looking forward to contact with family again as we have had 2 months without seeing them.

I made a trip into Otaki this afternoon to play the ukulele with a friend from Levin who has been enjoying playing over the past weeks, did shopping including getting more hen pellets as I have now got 4 more chickens from a woman in the neighbourhood ( 7 km away) who has many hens and roosters. I priced the cost of a 1000lt water tank and 50 m of 20 mm pipe plus fittings which will cost about $800 from Farmlands. I called into Brent O”Hagans to see if he had any spare conduit, he gave me some fittings and I headed home with a venison patty to share with David, yum all a gift.

Well, we are ready to a day off… me especially. I trust you do enjoy a day of rest after a good week of work. I was reading Psalm 135 this morning “Praise the Lord of Lords for He his good and he is gracious and merciful”.

Water flow achieved

I had a full day with checking possum traps to find one possum to kill and pluck only on Monday, unsetting them all again as I was away all Tuesday. The Woodville factory is offering $93.50 per kilo if couriered to the factory. It is a lot of walking each day… Monday 5 km.

On my return I headed up to the ‘Springs Paddock’ to see if I could collect and measure the water flow in the ditch of on the hillside of Blue Bluffs. I took a pipe predrilled with 3 rows of holes, a piece of irrigation pipe (15 mm) a bucket and a grubber. I pulled the 25mm pipe that was already up at the pad to the area of the ditch pulling it behind me as I carried it up when climbing the rope. It was quite a job to get everything into place, joined in a temporary fashion and as level as possible, even a little downhill. It ended up that I was able to fill the 15 litre bucket in 15 minutes. ( I dropped the bucket once so had to climb down the hill to collect it). This was a great achievement so we can work towards getting more pipe and a tank with fittings to get flowing water down to the pad site.

On Saturday and Sunday we had people to tea, and lunch Sunday with Jim coming to walk the dam track looking at the areas to put a bird count marker in. We saw and heard a number of birds … tomtit, whitehead, tui, bellbird, silvereye being the most dominant, meeting a number of walkers that day. I took the rata flowers on my visit to the river on Saturday afternoon.

a beautiful day…. sunny again

We are back to Level 2 so life goes back to some sense of normality with retail shops opening like the butcher and fresh food stalls. We had a visit on the last night of Level 3 to Otaki to have fish and chips and to see the sunset at Otaki Beach. What a beautiful sight, oranges and brilliant red. It was a place to see others we knew as we walked to the Waitohu stream together.

It has been a few days of working around the house with the leg traps being unset after I felt that I needed a break from killing possums. Since then I have found I need to send fur directly to the factory in Woodville because the local buyer has been discontinued…. now paying $93.50 per kilo if couriered to them. I have over 2 kg so have to add more as I still have traps on the dam track up to 2 km towards the dam.

I have finally trapped and killed 2 possums that have been interfering with the toilet paper at the long drop toilet at the Spring’s paddock (I sold one for to a man for dog food). Doing that putting me on the path of thinking about a water supply there. I finally climbed up to Blue Bluffs face where there is water coming from the face of the slip. I have yet to find a way to measure how much is flowing from there. I put a rope in place to help me climb up. David and I made a trip up there together… a time of reconnaissance. I had a problem that came from my first visit, I had a piece of gorse pocked into my right eye, so I made a trip to visit the doctor and check the effect. It was checked and no damage found.

Today it’s a chance to do a bird count with a Jim from the Wairarapa. What a privilege and I am glad that I have a person who can identify the sounds of ones I don’t recognise.

It’s was great to have our first visitors to tea… collecting fejioas, feeding the ducks and finishing the evening watching a sample of line dancing.

thoughts from my visit to the river beach yesterday. Have you ever wonderednwho taught the spider to make a perfect web, shimmering in the sun, waiting for it’s place.

Or have you wondered who did teach the birds to sing and fly about, the piwakaka or tui is different so who taught them to how to fly.

What about the different growing around the river bank the smallest so fine and fragile maiden hair fern to the ponga or silver fern that’s growing down here.
I too think and conclude for sure, there’s a designer so amazing and infinitely determined to create beauty all around.