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The gate is a prayer retreat center in Otaki Forks, New Zealand
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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.

learning new things

I found I had adjusted the hive thinking I would be taking off a box of empty frames only to find the hive in an distressed state until I put it back into the hive at the bottom instead of at the top… peace at last as the bees all headed into the entrance.

I saw and photographed a small ‘joey’ possum baby after I killed it’s mother as part of the possum control work I have been doing on the dam track. A day off today from such a long walk and so much killing….I have been out doing it over a number of days. I was away from the house for 4 hours.

How to remodel the hen house to prepare for some more hens… hopefully laying smaller eggs to use in the DOC 200 traps. I took the back off and found all these red looking groups of ? what? were they red mites. It wasn’t long afterwards that my hair felt very itchy, in fact until I had a shower before tea. I replaced the back with another nesting box and re arranged the perches, put some more shavings onto the floor and into the boxes before replacing the ladder and door to the east. I have yet to put a proper lift up door over the top of the boxes area but had a sheet of metal covering it overnight. It’s not quiet the same as it was and so it will be interesting to see how the hens adjust.

I am on a journey of trying to catch the pesky, toilet paper removing possum by the outhouse, long drop toilet at the Springs paddock. I went yesterday to find the apple had been eaten and so rearranged the trap and put flour and icing sugar lure on the tree bark. It does seem a pity to try catching it but after the removing of 3 toilet rolls in various containers I am intent of catching it. I have also been thinking of how to get a water supply in the area… many ways could be possible but 2 are an option… harvesting rain by setting up a system or trying to find if there is a spring we can tap in the hlllside> I have yet to investigate.

Lots of ideas take time to process. Another could be getting another micro hydro made from the bits we retrieved from the destroyed one. The process is still to be jelled in my head.. photograph the parts then send these to the man who engineered it in the first place in Taranaki. Then what? does it connect to the generator shed or the house? how much would it cost? who would do the work?

then there’s the floor I would like to have at the remote hut… covering the foundation? then the question on how to glue butynol onto another surface? So many things to keep my mind busy yet I know if I ask God to help me the answers will be made clear. That’s wisdom.

sunny no cloud day after snow on the mountains

It has been the usual May blast from the south with hail, over 80 mm of rain on one day and 48 the next, so its dam underfoot and cool. But time to keep doing what we can to keep rats and stoat numbers down. It is amazing to have the sun after a few overcast days. Mind you the fire in the kitchen feels like a necessity in the mornings now.

A delivery of 17 DOC boxes to use for the stored cleaned and oiled traps meant I stayed around the house for part of the afternoon, waiting for the delivery of the by GWRC staff. I had spent time trying to get the DOC 200 traps to be set off with a weight under 70 gms so with Paul’s help we adjusted one that is close to the house. While waiting I did some potting of plants… an ongoing activity over the next weeks. In fact I have been thinking I need a new place to put them as my nursery sites are full.

Preserving fejioas continues with some small Agee jars and bottles with lids that seal. So that’s been a good way to keep them as I had 2 bucketful’s meant I need to do something as the neighbours didn’t respond to my offer, except one that doesn’t like them.

I have been trying to sort out what thickness the wool I have spun and dyed is so that I can find a suitable pattern to knit up. It’s all a bit of a journey but finally I had some hand written notes in the back of a book on wool to help me. It indicated that depending on how many times it is wound around a ruler per cm or inch one can decide if it is double knitting or chunky or 3 or 4 ply. So the journey to be creative continues.

Focus for the rain in coming

Over the past week it was days of possum traps being checked with lots of walking plus an afternoon when David took the quad up the dam track carrying chainsaws to cut trees that had blocked the tracks. He headed down to remove one had had used a hand saw on and now that’s tidied up and on the dam track where a slip had occurred. All for access. I left traps unset till this time of rain and unsettled weather is over.

I only killed 10 possums over the many days but River killed 20 so the Hill of Hope ridge and beyond are now being cleared. How fit one needs to be to keep the hill climbing happening.

A comment from Steve about the wide bike tracks on the dam track, “one needs to keep the thigh muscles working”. I can see his reasoning as he bikes up the road to the top ridge of Cyrus Hills forest instead of using an electric bike. Mind you it’s something I have toyed with lots as reportedly they give a great sense of freedom so hills are no obstacle.

Lots of overnight rain but no damage to the road edge seen as I walked north and south this morning. A welcome change when we haven’t had a decent fall for many weeks. Time to catch up on a few indoor activities like knitting and writing up plant names on tile pieces ( this has been a work in progress for a week or two now.

We have had a couple of restful days with more time on the internet watching services, teachings and connecting with Hub people and family. Great to see Brian and Joy Saturday and Sunday plus Dan and Joy even though the children we not all that happy. What for our future? when can we go out to see people in person? so many questions as we wait the instructions Government is giving re Level 3 and 2.

Not a possum in sight for me

This morning I took a long walk with no possums caught but an opportunity to take fungi photos and collect a few more plants to pot. So that’s what I did arriving home for lunch. The afternoon has included a zoom prayer meeting with members of the Hub, some weeding in the vege garden, using the hedge trimmer to prune a pathway beside a garden shelter. Some greens picked for a pesto mix and collecting the fallen fejoias added to the afternoons activity of potting the plants including a few small ferns and tawa seedlings.

The sky has been grey but sure looks good now that the sun is setting. Greys with white and orange/pink breaking through. So the end of another day comes.

I had a part of a song on my mind after tea and couldn’t find it anywhere and as I don’t use my computer after tea it challenged me…………” my soul, it is the Lord”. from a hymn and so having looked at a hymn book wrote a number of possible beginnings… eg rest, find peace, and many others only to find Google, the wealth of information said it was ” Hark my soul it is the Lord” from the words of William Couwper. It was a question based song about my love the Lord?

I was intently concentrating on milling some flour… noisy machine and Steve DOC Ranger and a new ranger Phillipa came to visit after he had been helping Dean remove slabs of macracarpa from his property as others have been stolen with other things in the past weeks.

So life in the gorge goes on .. more traffic now travelling at a faster speed. SO is life likely to go back to normal or has there been a shift. The economy has been challenged in NZ as it has in many countries around the world. Many older people have died, especially in care homes. We have been living quietly, yet with purposeful activities.

out and about

A lot more traffic since level 3 with cars driving faster too.
It has been a good day for pest control with River catching and killing 15 possums and changing lure and gas canisters of 7 of 10 lure good nature on the Hill of Hope.. looks like I will need to take a visit in future. Dee and Tim arrived about 9am to change baits and clean traps on the dam track and I followed them up to check possum traps. I caught 3, moved 10 traps to new locations along the track and so work goes on while the sun shines. It was another opportunity to collect small plants so I potted them up this afternoon, plants like kawakawa, pate, putaputaweta and some tawa I believe.

David has made the place look very tidy with the weed eater and I did the garden paths this afternoon so it is a general tidy up. Fejoias are falling so we are enjoying them now with some to share.

I have been trying to get the water flow sorted for the glass house and toilet block… to get the pressure up. Not sure how it has worked but today I turned off the tap at the tank and ran all the taps until nothing was coming out then went back and turned it on again. The flow is greater when there’s only one tap open.

Night falls and David has been in Otaki getting groceries, mail and taking the lawn mower into be serviced as it hasn’t gone for the past 5 weeks I believe. At least he was able to get the chainsaw going today so that was positive. Last nights meal of goat meat again tonight… an easy tea with potatoes and salad.

Satisfied with a sunny day

what a cold day yesterday so it was a welcome sight seeing no clouds. The trip to on the dam track was not as fruitful as yesterday as far as catching possums. It was good to collect a few plants for potting up so that’s what I did this afternoon. I put the plants out to sell and had a couple of young men stopped and bought some. We had a great conversation as they studying environment/ecology at the local Wananga. They were keen to spend time in the bush so we might see them again. River called in after he set some traps on the Hill of Hope to collect the lures and gas canisters for the 10 good nature traps there… a new skill for him to learn so gave him a demonstration. The first car headed up the gorge road at 5 am this morning… could be a hunter or a tramper in Level 3, first day.

Half a bucket of fejoias off the lawn. David is cooking tea for tonight as he needs to learn the skill of managing time after a days work. We put the goat shoulder given to us by Steve to cook in the slow cooker about 2 pm so it will be tender.A bath will have to wait as he had been strimming paths. I set some possum traps close to the house as some of the plants in the garden are getting eaten, like the brassicas and spinach.

Possuming in earnest

A big commitment to go walking every day… today the total for me was about 4 km for a 3 to kill and pluck. Not an easy job when one screamed loudly at me and was ready to attack just when 2 walkers arrived on the scene on their way to the dam. I stopped and talked to them before heading onwards with my work, after killing the one which was screaming and ended up cutting 2 back legs off… might try eating the meat.

We had another time at the river a couple of days ago late afternoon with a hot drink and pancake, I had a thought of going back home to cook a chicken pastry pie for tea which I changed to lasagne instead after reading a recipe on the paper wrapping the tin and frypan. It was good to sit there a while to listen to the running water… yes it has changed since last time we were there as rain has come, depositing sticks for my fire.

I have finished the book of Hadassah by Tommy Tenny. It was a rewrite of the story of Esther. An amazing answer from God himself in a very difficult situation. Having been taken to be among the new concubines in preparation to be a queen and the eunuchs who would serve them… all forced to a life of service against their will. Their freedoms are more curtailed than mine that’s for sure.

Time to fix the problem of having air in the pipe to the shower block and caravans…my simple method is not enough I found out today so we will need to extract the pipe from the bushes that have covered it and have it drain the air out and then put it back into place. Probably need the hedge trimmer to help us clear the way.

The white flour Brian Titter delivered has been helpful as I mixed it with icing sugar and use it to help lure possums. I have also been using Calf mooslie in plastic cups screwed to trees (protected from the overnight rain). He also bought us some blueberry and cashew cheese having heard David was interested in some arriving unexpectedly next day with it. It sure is nice.