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The gate is a prayer retreat center in Otaki Forks, New Zealand
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Life in lockdown..level 4 and 3

The slipface is still walkable but not drivable although a small motorcycle and bikes come over it. We saw a pig balanced on the motor cycle this past week.

We are here at home… there’s plenty of time to get work done around here with tidying, spraying, mulching, garden preparation, repairing and making new things. It’s been a fruitful time with the weather being sunny and warm, usually following a frost each morning. I have been glad of this time where we have felt it’s been productive around here, even to doing some spring cleaning work of washing curtains.

I have been out a couple of mornings to look for where one duck who consistently is found eating grass on the area outside our bedroom window.. I felt ‘ I’m on a duck hunt, a duck hunt” but not successful so far as I can’t find how it gets out or the route it takes. What a challenge. We are adapting our lives to seeing a few people now heading into the hills for hunting or walking, some of these are willing to stop and talk.

A few maintainence jobs including fixing a clothes line, remaking a shall shelter with pallets and different roofing. It ‘s a bit difficult to get things perfect without the chance to go out shopping but its amazing what we have lying around or stored here and there. Good to work out the situations as they come to my notice. Even to sorting out more rubbish, yet to be collected including the mouldy bait that may need a different way to be disposed of.

A time to have a day of less work today. We need to not always be working so on my birthday we headed away from the house to the new shelter near the dam track entrance to sit in the sun and boil a hot drink on the gas cooker. A good place to retreat from all the work that calls.

We keep focused on the Lord during this time with thanks and praise plus the times of quiet meditation.

My oh my the weeks go by

With wind and rain

days pass and go on

We continue to wait

passing the locked gate

Yes it’s different and long

but there’s hope to go on

We are warm and comfortable

in this latest storm

I am grateful for the opportunities the place we live in gives with walks, possuming, garden to tend with veges to eat, birds that I can’t always identify and of course the occasional walker and bikers passing by. We are heading towards the 11 month mark… it’s hard to believe nearly a year has gone by but it has with it’s challenges, connections and of course changed lifestyle. We continue to pull in or push in groceries and David has had the 2 operations with time to rest while he recouperates. Help has come with the support to cut up wood, trees removed from the dam track to keep it open, visits on a monthly basis by Mark from KCDC and of course interested neighbours. Lots to be grateful for and of course one of these would be the internet and phone connections which means I can join prayer meetings on zoom, send emails, do research and order goods on line. It’s a bit difficult not attending meetings at night but we haven’t suffered for that really.

While we wait we try to be sensitive to heaer God’s voice of encouragement, direction, correction and such like.

May that continue for all of us … be blessed

Tick of the months as they go past

The last 10 months have been a huge change in our lives, eventful with David having 2 surgical procedures, a helicopter airlift in the middle of the night for David in pain, a number of people we have had conversation with that are passing our gate, the mounting rubbish and the clearing of the dam track tree obstruction.

All this in the months plus the continuing pest control with the different tracks being slowly recorded on the trapnz site on the cell phone with some transferred to the website. It’s hard to keep doing it all on technology after using paper. yes there are rats and stoats being caught and bait eaten. I have finished the 40 weta motels and have started being more proactive killing possums, especially the ones around the house. It will be time to begin on culling ducks as they are mature and a good size for eating before spring comes and all the females start laying….8 extra drakes and 4 extra females. My effort on trademe hasn’t been all that successful.

WInter woes…not that many. I feel the garden is in good heart with the fruit trees and berry fruit pruned, some mulched added to beds, seeds bought in preparation for future planting with ideas for more bags for edibles like parsnips and carrots. As always there’s a number of things to keep doing.
We heard from a hunter that there are some hives across the river about 700 m away so that was interesting as there are some hives about 2 km from home further down the valley.

Walking… on the road or the emergency track is still happening, no quads now but one hunter has scored 3 pigs as he and a friend used motor bikes they had lifted over the gate on different trips into the gorge. One was caught just above our house when he located his dogs with the gps after they went missing. Well I never you would say.. we never knew it was there. There may be more… hunters are ever hopeful and they rely on their dogs to sniff the wind.

The rep from the council came this past week. His visit to discus future developments as they are yet to be planned for after the engineers get back with reports from their measurements and study of the site. We also wait on the rubbish being collected with David needing to drive the quad so it’s good that has waited until he can wisely do that after the recent op.. what a relief that has been, the pain has been relieved.

So as I read this week in trials have endurance that produces character and character produces hope so may these be in us in abundance as we face every challenge. This past week it was clean out the water settling tank as there was silt in them. a 2 wheeled trolley I pulled up the hill with broom, buckets, etc, cleaned everything out but the intake hose got a stone in it blocking flow. It meant I needed another visit next day with a hose carried in a backpack and after 2 attempts the water was flowing again ….the moral of this for me, one needs to take the time necessary to do these maintanence jobs.

lots of rain and wind

Changes come slowly or quickly… rain helps to weigh down the gravel sitting over the rotten rock at Blue Bluffs so we wait to see what the result will be of todays wind and rain. We have not had the quantity of water that the South Island has had but the river is running very high.

David is now staying in Otaki having had an emergency call to be helicopted out after experiencing severe pain on Tuesday night.. a gift for him to stay in Otaki with a family for a few days with a Doctor’s appointment on Monday to assess the situation. The challenge of getting help meant an amazing experience of havign a helicopter, bigger than other previous ones, land in the area across from our entrance. He’s not had a reoccurance of the pain but didn’t want to stay here in case he had to call the rescue helicopter again as this was a sudden and unexpected experience

We know that the last rain left slips on the dam track that will probably need clearing but as yet we haven’t found out the extent of them. The ones affecting the emergency track have been cleared by DOC workers. Life is surely different with wintery weather and unexpected changes, but I am assured that I am not alone and we have a good supply of food and fuel here.

the photos on KCDC website tell it all

As you see there’s a change that has come… less flat area to walk across so life is uncertain or at least the length of access time across the area. It will depend on any future heavy rain falls. We have KCDC closing gaps to try to stop quads, not sure about bikers and trampers.. I think they will find a way through

Rain changes everything

We have had rain and lots of it over the past 2 days with the result that the slip area as changed markedly with a number of slips so that there’s a large surface about 100 m wide on the river side with the river lapping strongly at the bottom which has fallen, possibly about 11 pm last night when ‘ Thunder” was heard and one of our guests had a dream of the edge of the room falling… It’s the edge of the road and there is marked subsidence where we usually walk. Both guests have headed out, the later when 2 council staff came to look at the area after 2 pm taking her to a train station on her way. It was obvious with the rain and the situation that it was better to stay at home today.

We have been living quietly and simply with David recouperating and we are glad to say, he’s improved over the past weeks. Help came with one of our guests who labeled new traps and worked on other pest control equipment that has been purchased and made over recent weeks. Great to also have some maintanence things done as well as having come company.

So a good to slow down with this winter experience…till next time. I bless you

diffent days with different challenges

We live in a place were there a predators and rodents as we have been finding out by experience. The harrier hawk did some damage to the ducklings and then this week a falcon (Karerea) attacked a hen so this is a new experience for us.. Of course we have the meat to eat but it can seem inconvenient the timing. David and Sean saw the falcon at close hand and got the chicken off the bird, rather damaged it was.

The rats and mice have found a warm place to settle for the night Tand have a feed of wires… even though we have traps and bait outside the car and inside now as the car needed to have about 5 hours in the garage to get the wires back to a good condition to repair the damage. … Oh the cost!

There is not clear plan for the road improvement… will they make it legally passible with some extra monitoring in place or will we still wait for the decisons to be made after the recent testing. It’s a slow process it seem with nothing likely to be done before the end of December.. months away and even longer. A meeting with the KCDC roading manager gave us an update but no clear future plan, just further decisions to be made.

Well we live quietly with David recouperating a repair operation… slowly he feels more revived but the expected outcome hasn’t happened so we continue with what we have been doing and now he has been instructed to squat a few times a day. How great it was to get our wood supplies organised by a visit of friends as we weren’t prepared for 6 weeks of no lifting. It was good timing as we had our usual cold spell of weather in late May come over last weekend ,followed by a few frosts.

Pest control work goes on … a busy week walking the tracks, purchasing supplies to spend the grant money from the Kapiti Coast District Council. This was helped by a few supplies from the Greater Wellington Regional Council staff member that I met with on Thursday to help me get better at recording with the Trapnz website/app so that I have up to date information as I go rather than double handling it. .. I will see how it goes, probably being very helpful for a couple of volunteers who have been offering assistance as they can log into the same site from their phones.

The Lord is good and does good, He is near those who fear HIm…. all verses that encourage me on this journey.

woopsy or was it Eeek?

A rat in the glove box yesterday… it was soft and moved when I put my hand in there. What a shock! I usually deal with dead ones in traps so this was a surprise.
“David I need you to deal with it”. He took a while to respond but it stayed in tne one position probably because of the rat bait that had been put under the bonnet of the car as the bait outside hasn’t been touched. So that’s the life of a car in the wild…visited by vermin.

I had Sunday with dedicated pest contol workers and bird monitoring helpers at a property in Paraparaumu. What a privilege to be among some knowledgable people, one who is willing and putting together graphs from the records of catches I have been making over the years. I was told we are doing an amazing job, so got to keep it up. Today I headed out into the wind and showery weather to empty pitfall traps to find out what insects/ beetles we might have here. All the pottles were filled with water so I am not sure what was found…. all put into isopril alcohol.

Thinking about the dam and prospects is on the agenda as we have been told that the one on our property is under the jurisdiction of the Waikato Regional Council as are all other dams in NZ. There is a proposal to have the unused ones removed by 2023 so we have a few years of grace. We wait to see what God and man will do about this.

The subsidence looks like there is some sinking on the river side but the road it self is flatten and therefore deceptive about what is going on underneath with the digger smoothing it all over. Of course people are asking what are the findings from the digging and drilling, I guess we will hear in due course.

Such lovely weather for pruning and garden work, planting and making mulch…. a great heap of this is brewing under a tarpaulin. The ducks were under shelter for a week and so not extra killings by the hawk recently which is helpful, I am just beginning to let them out more.

So here we have it… a sort of catching up for this week.

journeying with a closed road

7 months have passed with changes in the condtion of the road with cracks widening and slumping occuring slowly.

Now it’s time to investigate with a million dollar drilling machine using water as part of the process going down through the rock layers… not able to reach 20 mitres for the first hole beause the drill head had a piece sheared off. There will be drilling happening for 2 days probably on a second hole as the machine is due to go to Bleheim for starting to work Monday. Yesterday an excavator dug 2 holes then covered them up again while I was away for the day… all looking to see what is underneath the cracked earth.

People still journey past on various things like feet, bicycles and quads leaving the road surface affected. It’s hunting time with the roar so we continue to watch and wait , wondering who we will meet next and when there will be any changes to access so that it becomes unsafe to venture over the unstable area. Surveyors keep a fortnightly watch on the area with their measurements showing any changes. A gate has been installed which has made it easier to get to and fro with shopping as we take the buggy and trolley to the car.

How do we live like this? challenges come in many ways, recently it is finding ducks attacked and I saw the reason this morning as a large dark brown bird flew away from the upper duck run where all the young ones are…could be a hawk who killed the one I found today. do I bury it or not? The first one we found had a bloody head so we took it out of misery before a trip to wellington on Wednesday. Killing is part of living in these places… with all the pests that we have caught in traps over the years but a hawk is a different story… what now?

I walk, enjoying doing so again after purchasing some new tramping boots from Mackpak… Scarpa’s a light with lots of tread. My backpack has been fixed and fitted so that makes carrying things to and from seem easier even though it takes a lot of room on the bus I found when I headed to Paraparaumu yesterday, This is my life, being adaptable and cheerful, glad to be in this beautiful place. There’s plenty to occupy us on the land with garden mulching, pest control and the like and the occasional trip on the bike to the end of the road to check toilets… that’s a good opportunity to be reminded that staying has meant we have tracks open, grass under control and pruning getting done. I team of workers will be needed to get things in order in days ahead with the DOC facilities I am sure. They are still being used, in reduced numbers of course but people are enjoying the walk.

the waiting continues with some land movement

In talking to those who come to look they say they notice quite a bit of movement on the road without tarseal. The Kapiti Coast District Council has contracted a company to do some test drillling so we will see changes in the future with a machine on site. the concrete barriers have been moved aside with a plan for a gate to be installed. Now it’s raining so that may wait.

Challenges this past week have been with vehicles.. first of all the lights in the car, the ABS and the break warning lights with no obvious reason found with the wheels or with the scanner test… then the auto electrician who found finally be looking along the line 2 wire chewed with a nest being made beside the passenger seats at the back of the car… yes a mouse or rat entered the car sitting outside under the pine trees.. such a warm and cosy place. WIth that cost we will need to keep bait inside the engine area and under the car to prevent that again.

The other car is in for repairs after coming off road on the gravel… fortunately David had no injuries from that incident.

I continue to walk the hills with pest control work… needing a new pair of hiking boots without plastic soles in this area. It’s amazing to be among the ferns and trees knowing there’s still rats around as well as the birds, some of which I don’t recognise the call of.

Rain has come, just as I was harvesting tomatoes in the garden to ripen inside or use as a green tomato dish. There’s other veges I want to harvest but I am glad that I came inside before the heavy shower have just had. All predicted so it’s out with wet weather gear when we go out now.

Daylight saving has come, the nights are sure earlier with the sense that winter isn’t far away even though it has been quite warm lately.

Keep well, keep dry and keep smiling in thankfulness in and for whatever comes your way.