Meet our fridge…

Posted in House on October 29th, 2010 by Coffee

Well, the space that it will eventually inhabit, anyway!

Today we had a walk-through with the kitchen guys, who marked out all the pantry, bench and island spaces so we could have a walk around the kitchen and make sure it would all actually fit in the space left by the builders. Which it did. Whew!

As an added bonus, unexpectedly there was another digger in action today. Digging what can only be described as a “bloody big hole in the ground” to contain the pipes for the geothermal underfloor and water heating systems. It’s about 2m deep, 6m wide, and will be about 100m long when it’s finished. As I said, a bloody big hole!

Luckily before they started the digger driver spotted the golden elm and adjusted the pit slightly to make sure that it didn’t get dug out. Just as well after yesterday’s blog entry! I’m glad now we left the floppy bit of bamboo stake beside it which presumably was what alerted them to its existence. I just hope that they manage to remember it’s there when they go to fill it in!


Posted in Plants and Gardens on October 27th, 2010 by Coffee

Those of you with good memories might remember I promised (or threatened, depending on your point of view, I guess) to tell you about the surprising survival of a couple of the trees we planted. Those of you with even better memories might even remember us planting them! We certainly do! Wow. Three whole years ago!

For a long, long time we thought that all of them had died. Every last one. In fact the golden elm seemed to have been run over with a hay mower for good measure, just to make sure it was dead. But we randomly stumbled across the shattered stump of the stake that was holding it up the other week, and when we looked down next to that we saw the little stump had sprouted a little! So we kept watering it, and today I trimmed the “lawn” around it a bit, so hopefully it will survive. And grow up a little bit! As long as the resident hares leave it alone, I guess it’s got a chance…

The red maple up the front managed to avoid the severe haircut that the golden elm experienced, but again we thought it had died a long time ago. But when we removed the tree guard we found a few little buds on the trees that have since exploded into life.

Just a pity that both of them are more or less in the wrong place. The maple’s in the natives spot, and the elm will block sun where we don’t want sun blocked. Ho hum. We’ll just have to find a way around those a bit later. Maybe we can just keep the elm at a nice low height. It seems to like it! But in the meantime we’ll just hope they stay alive a bit longer.

Maybe it’s not that small after all…

Posted in House on October 22nd, 2010 by Coffee

Driving down the final road on the way out today to have a few meetings on site, we suddenly noticed that we saw some timber jutting up where there was previously no timber. It had grown!

Driving in the gate, Bec said “maybe it’s not so small after all?!”. And she might be right! It’s amazing how the space changes with a few bits of timber around the place to delineate the space a bit more. Some rooms look bigger, some still a bit smaller than we thought or imagined, but overall we think it’ll do us. It better do!

Even at this stage there are a few little issues to hopefully get fixed, and we’ve made a couple of changes to some of the windows now we’ve seen the size, shape and placement of them. Nothing too drastic though.

In other news. The sparky’s put up a temporary box, and another switchboard box in the pump-shed, so within too long we can get power on and get some water, so then we can plant some plants! One step at a time, I guess.

After concrete comes timber…

Posted in House, New Zealand on October 21st, 2010 by Coffee

As our obligations to babysit last weekend vanished, we made a call and escaped city life to have had a really nice weekend “over the hill” with T&G, enjoying the obligatory Akaroa fish and chips, chicken life, getting gardening ideas, sipping some nice wine, and enjoying some really great company. Another masterclass in relaxed hospitality, and on short notice too. Just what we needed for a quick change of pace. Thanks guys!

But then it was back to our “normality” on Tuesday with another trip out to see what had happened since the concrete set over then weekend. This trip some large piles of timber had grown around the place.

I really hope they’ve got some sort of numbering or references on them so they go in the right place! Looks like a fun puzzle to try to put together. A bit more complicated than the shed!

And while we were waiting around a bit to see if they were actually going to put a frame up, with the “help” of the builder’s dog we managed to clear the rest of the lambs ears, and accumulate all the various piles around the place into a single heap. That took a few loads in the back of the wagon. The photo really doesn’t give the right idea of the size of that mound!

Now we just have to watch that bit of ground to see if they’re going to try to escape from there!

Oh, and while we were lurking around they didn’t put up a frame – either there was a bit of prep on site still needed, or they just didn’t want us watching while they all stood around scratching their heads trying to work out which bit goes where to start things off. We just left them to it!

Concrete trucks in the mist…

Posted in House on October 15th, 2010 by Coffee

Another early start for us today as we raced out to see the slab being laid. The closer we got to the land, the denser the foggy mist got, until we were surprised by that most rare of sights – concrete trucks in the mist….

By the time we’d got there (and we really did start early!), the concrete boys were almost half done already. But at least we got a glimpse of the underfloor heating pipes before they were buried forever in the concrete.

I have to say it was slightly amusing (though slightly worrying too) to watch them edge closer and closer to the final corner, while they were desperately trying to will the concrete to somehow spread out or swell up and fill the last remaining gap in the slab. Which it didn’t. DOH! One more truck, with just a couple of barrow-fulls on it please!!

We can only hope they sorted that out. As it was going to be some time for another truck to arrive, and as we’d forgotten all the tools we needed to actually do anything useful out there today, we left them to it and headed back into town to try to track down a toilet that was actually comfortably to sit on. It appears that simple thing isn’t as simple as we’d assumed!

Unfortunately (given that everything is now encased in concrete) we think we’ve spotted the first visit from Mr, erm…, Muck-Up. It appears that however many times over many months we’ve tried to make sure that something should be somewhere on everyone’s plans, it’s still been put somewhere else. Sigh. Umm. Shouldn’t be a major issue, but reminded us that we maybe shouldn’t just assume anything. Actually, I think we knew that anyway, but this has definitely reminded us!

Poly wanna cracker?…

Posted in House on October 12th, 2010 by Coffee

Today probably rated about a 3.5/10 in terms of house building excitement. On the one hand we could see that the poly insulation and steel mesh was just about complete over the whole house area ready for the pouring of the floor slab. On the other we had to decide locations for thermostats for individual rooms. Oh, the pressure!

I suspect I really shouldn’t make that sort of remark. I suspect in just a little while we will wish for such easy decisions!

As we had to go out to meet the heating guy we also took the opportunity to dig up another 100 or so lamb-ears. Those things are really starting to get us down! (And secretly the most important part, having to go out there meant I could confirm that the shed made it through yesterday’s gales and sideways rain. Which it did. With flying colours. Whew!)

Roll on Friday for the next big concrete pour. (All going to plan with the laying of the underfloor heating pipes, of course…)

Shed Erection

Posted in House on October 9th, 2010 by Coffee

Stop all your puerile snickering! Stop it now, or I’ll not tell you the story ok?!

Settled down now? Sure? Really sure?! Good.

Ok, so as you’ve been made aware through previous posts, we’ve been getting things ready for the pump-shed to arrive. And last night it did. On a trailer. In quite a few bits! But we’d had a copy of the instructions for a week and I’d managed to get the general gist of them, so I felt reasonably confident. Reasonably confident. And we’d got a good crew organised to help too. And on their Friday night too!

It helped us immeasurably that the guy from the shed place stayed for an extra few minutes and helped us get the four sides up with his expertise and, more importantly, his nail-gun. Gotta get me one of those! Actually, big thanks to the guys at They were brilliant from start to finish!

Anyway, with the walls up in short order we just had to deal with the tricky roof bits. Without the help of the nail gun. Bugger! Have to use muscle power, and my muscles still aren’t used to wielding a hammer yet. Luckily with a few of us around we could spell each other when things just got too sore.

Really, things went pretty smoothly. Roof gables, roof bits, front and back bits, a heap of flashings… Any glitches we managed to iron out pretty quickly, and things progressed along right up until we worked out we needed a slightly longer ladder, and the light faded to absolute black, and we had to call it a night.

This morning Bec and I raced out with a bigger ladder to finish off the last little bits before it rained. Just the top roof flashing and the door closing hardware left to do, and we managed to get the outside stuff done before it pissed down. Our house builder (who was once again working on Saturday) came over and sheltered in the shed though a particularly heavy shower seemed duly impressed too. We’ll just have to see how it copes with a decent gale or two!

So there it is. The first fully complete construction on the ranch. Now we just need to get power and water into it, and we can camp out in it! Or at least have a jug and make coffee out there!

Huge thanks to all involved for making it a fun and successful build! We’ll give you a call when we’re ready for the chook-shed construction…

Cat, Dog, Duck on a hot tin roof…

Posted in New Zealand, Rants And Rambles on October 6th, 2010 by Coffee

So here we were, all out in the backyard having a nice evening around the BBQ, wondering where the wind had gone and wasn’t it a lovely evening, and then, above our heads…

Three ducks decided that having a birds-eye view of our proceedings was necessary, and parked themselves on the roof for a bit, hanging their heads over the edge to say hello. And they didn’t even have an invitation!

And today, as promised, some concrete!

Posted in House, Plants and Gardens on October 6th, 2010 by Coffee

You were warned yesterday! Today it was all about concrete. Lots of concrete! First up, the base of the shed got its fill. Good work by the boys in getting it nice and smooth too!

Then on to the foundations. This involved the big concrete pumping crane and quite a few concrete trucks coming in waves. OOooh! Concrete trucks! Up close! Bonza!

While that was all going on, Henry got the final bit of the backfilling of yesterday’s trenching done. Go Henry!

And while all those guys were doing all that we got on with today’s bit of gardening to try to keep out from under the guys (and more importantly the trucks!). Digging out as many lamb-ear plants as we could manage before it got way too hot. They don’t seem to mind the spray that’s doing a good job of killing everything in the area we want to plant with a few natives, so it has to be manual labour to keep them under control for now. They’re buggers to get out! And the bit we did was where they’re sparser. I estimate we did well over 100. And it looks like a pretty decent pile we stacked up. What we’ll do with them long term, who knows! Need a compost heap quick that will heat ’em up and kill ’em good!

There’s a huge number more that we’ll have to try to tame before they start to flower for another batch to spread next year. Apparently they’re pretty, and some even plant them as border plants, but having seen how they spread out there I think we’ll be giving that idea a big miss!!

Today, it was basically all about trenches and pipe.

Posted in House on October 5th, 2010 by Coffee

As we’ve chosen to build a bit away from the boundary, we’ve known we’ve needed to get power and phone from the fence to the house. Today was that day! As a bonus we were able to organise to get the water pipes in the same trench from the pump-shed to the house as well. That saved us another huge trenching job. Whew!

We did have to help chuck the pipes in the hole though. Felt good to actually do something ourselves that’s a vital bit of the whole house building thing. I just hope we’ve done it right! I assume we’ll know when we turn the tap on and no water comes out.

Only one small drama when we found a massive kink in the pipe and had to get the irrigation guys to pop out and add a join for us last minute. Which they did. They’ve been fantastic so far, as has everybody we’ve dealt with so far. Really fantastic! Hope that continues. I’m sure it will.

Tomorrow: Concrete!