Although I’m on leave this week, there is a lot that needs doing around the place. Guilt and the stern gaze of SWMBO has so far prevented me from just loafing on the couch with a book and I have been gainfully employed each day working through the ‘Honey, do!’ list.
As mentioned last week, Wendy bought a well worn but sound homemade shed from a guy at the other end of the district. Although well built from treated timber, having seen action first as a playhouse for his kids and then a mansion for their rabbits, it has seen better days.
After a morning spent ferrying the womenfolk around the shops of West Auckland, this afternoon was ear-marked for cleaning up the shed. After the best part of three hours with a Karcher pressure washer, the Palais de Poulet stood gleaming in the afternoon sun and I was encrusted in all manner of filth I’d rather not think about.
Le Palais de Poulet – before
Le Palais de Poulet – after
Hopefully, the weather will hold and I can do a few repairs and set about converting it into Wendy’s dream chook house. I’ll also need to give some serious consideration to how I’m to get it over the fence and into position in the home paddock – I suspect I shall need to call upon the services of Johnny and his tractor.
As I have already said, I was also keen to do more reading this week. Long weekdays in the office interspersed with evenings and weekends doing stuff around the farm have meant I’m barely able to get a page read before my eyelids close. As usual, I have a few books on the go on my Kindle but fancied tucking into a book for my week off – which was just as well as when I popped over to see my friend and neighbour Johnny last week, he handed me two books he had borrowed from his Dad. Coming from a family that have farmed here for years and knowing that I was interested in leaning more about local history, he had picked them up for me when seeing his folks.
The one I’m reading at the moment is a first edition copy of ‘Men Came Voyaging’, a detailed history of the town of Helensville (which celebrates its 150th year this year) and the surrounding area including where we live. It was written by Colleen M. Sheffield, a local resident and talented Maori writer who lost her life in a tragic bus accident on Brynderwyn Hill on Waitangi Day in 1963.
Written in celebration of Helensville’s centennial year, the book was the culmination of extensive and painstaking research by Sheffield. It covers the entire history of the district—the formation of the earliest forests and sandhills, the complicated Maori history and the changes brought by the Pakeha settlers. I was intrigued to learn that, depending on your theological / evolutionary outlook, the hillside upon which we now live is actually a silted-up sea cliff dating from the Pleistocene period one million years ago.
While sometimes hard to follow, the chapters on Maori settlement were enlightening, detailing the travels and land struggles between Ngapuhi and Ngati Whatua iwi. Our home is between two of the southern most Ngati Whatua marae (meeting area) at Haranui and Rewiti on the side of Tauwhare Maunga (mountain).
I’m looking forward to the coming chapters and learning more about this beautiful valley that we live in.