434 Tennent Drive, Palmerston North, New Zealand
February 2014 – December 2014
By now we worked from home so it didn’t matter a great deal where we lived provided there was internet access. But as you know from the previous narrative, there was a reason why we wanted to move house fast.
We had searched the internet and newspapers all over the country and there was nothing suitable. The problem was we had a dog. These days rental agencies and land lords and ladies don’t like dogs.
One of my sisters lives six hours away at Palmerston North. She has a deer farm next to farms owned by Massey University. Massey University is primarily an agriculture university that specializes in animal and plant research. These university farms all had houses that were rented out because farm managers rarely lived on the farm. They were not resident farmers! Who my sister didn’t know wasn’t worth knowing. Yes! There is a farmhouse available on a university farm! And yes! It is two minutes away from where I live so you can visit me often!
The removal lorry (truck) was loaded. I set out in the car with one dog, one cat, and six ducks. Eric set out in the ute (pickup) with the goat. Six or seven hours later we arrived.
It was a typical farmhouse, quite small; in fact so small that none of our furniture fitted. We stored our furniture in the garage and bought some smaller stuff from second-hand stores. But a house is a house – especially when you don’t have one. There was only one electric plug in the kitchen, so we had the microwave, the kettle, the toaster, and the bread maker, on a bench in the narrow corridor!
There was a henhouse to house the ducks at night. During the day I would let them out and they would waddle down to the nearby river and mess about all day. They would return for the evening meal, following me across the fields like I was the Pied Piper. These ducks were a breed called Magpie Ducks – quite an uncommon breed. They were developed in Wales (this is true) by a man called Mr Drake.
We had the use of a field for the goat. Eric made a goat house. The field couldn’t be used on the farm because it was a farm water system experiment and there were plastic funnels here and there that could not afford to get trampled on by livestock. Billy, our single goat, was okay. A fence is no barrier for a goat, but Billy had a long, long chain. It didn’t of course stop every other goat on the university farms from coming for a visit.
We had a good vegetable garden.
Being in the middle of spacious farms we had field after field of wild mushrooms which my sister explored with grandchildren, teaching them which fungus is poisonous and which is edible. It’s a skill one takes for granted!
Twice a kamikaze blackbird smashed into a bedroom window, killing itself on the bed and scattering shards of glass from one end of the room to the other. They must have been attacking their own reflection.
We had always regarded the place as a temporary abode. The office was in the bedroom. The dining table was in the lounge! It had a wood burner but the wind sneaked in through ancient window frames. In winter I had taped up every window to stop the draughts! The house was next to a huge woolshed which was not only the scene of erudite lectures, but was the venue for hordes of aspiring country bumpkins to hold their raucous parties.
Even though we quite liked it, the place had its limitations. We quietly began to look for a more amenable lodging; and an amenable lodging we did indeed find! Although I had to sell the ducks!