Of course, there’s no surprise in that. May is nearly done and dusted so if anything Jack Frost was a tad overdue. It’s not even like he wasn’t welcome; there’s nothing like the gorgeous day a frost guarantees. We’re not moaning at all. We’re just saying that when we threw open the back door on Tuesday morning as the sparkles descended on the grass (or lack of it in the duck run) the general consensus was that winter has indeed, irrevocably, without a shadow of a doubt, arrived.
The mist rises as Felicity, Gwen and Hilda enjoy their topped up pond in the frost
But this year we’re accommodating a teeny glow of smugness to keep the chill at bay. Bring it on winter! Do your damnedest! Because this year is a Homestead first; this year we can relax safe, secure, and toasty warm in the knowledge that our abode is now weather tight.
Okay, we admit that we may have overplayed things a little. The house has always been structurally wonderful, even when subjected to Mother Nature at her most stroppy (see Quake Anniversary), but there has always been a chink in it’s armour in the guise of a chimney, the fireplace of which was long ago boarded up and concealed behind a wall in The Farmer’s bedroom. Tumble down in appearance when we took up residence, when both the Sky TV installer and the guys putting in the woodburner flue commented within days of each other that you “can see daylight through those bricks” we decided action was called for. Out came the ceremonial ladder (presented to the Bean Counter as a leaving present from a previous post, as the only time said ladder was on site rather than in our garage was during the company’s annual audit), up scrambled the Bean Counter and a couple of rows of the unstable smokestack were removed. Job done. Well, not quite it would seem, but once the earth had moved for us a few (14,000ish) times, subsequent ceremonial ladder appearances saw the removal of all bricks to the roofline. Replacing the worn tarpaulin had become one of those autumnal jobs you just did along with cleaning out the guttering and chopping back the grapevine. In post quake Christchurch a tarped up chimney doesn’t accord a second glance.
Hidden behind the wall
Time marches on and, as dictated by the Homestead Gantt Chart (generated by our Engineer-in-Residence), the moment finally came for our attentions to turn to The Farmer’s room and, in particular, the hidden fireplace. A combined Renovator/Bean Counter advance saw the chimney descend to ceiling height thus necessitating an SOS to that font of all knowledge (and what he doesn’t know, he makes up), Pop. Instructions were taken on how to obtain the required materials (some we may have mucked up just a little), the delivery company chastised for dumping these on top of the juvenile blackcurrant hedge, not alerting us to their arrival and charging us $80.00 plus GST for the honour (and breathe) and a mutually suitable day selected for the undertaking of Operation Weathertight.
The day was one of those utter gems that our gorgeous suburb bestows on us but once or twice a year: clear, sunny and without a breathe of a breeze. After a couple hours of hammering, colourful language, scrabbling boots on corrugated iron and fought phobias it really, truly was job done. Pop and his roofing gang were unlashed, the customary undignified race to put a line through the job (see Listing into 2014) run, and everyone traipsed down to the corner where the view of that portion of the roof is best and photographed the evidence. There’s nothing to compare to the elation of crossing off one of those really big jobs.
Job done! The Bean Counter, Farm Girl and Renovator are justifiably smug.
Now that we’ve got that one off the list, it’s down to the sort of tasks usually reserved for the shorter, cooler days. During the warmer months everything is so bountiful and busy you tend to turn a blind eye to the stuff that’s just not working as it should. So in front of us we have a couple of months to realign the front garden beds, rethink the hay feeder construction (something to withstand Geraldine’s enthusiastic gore, shake and savage hay eating technique), and assemble the inherited picket fence into a firewood seasoning area to name but three time-fillers.
Trouble is that it’s just so blimmin’ comfy inside now the ankle-height gale from the chimney (despite tarpaulin, wall and previous residents fire detritus) has been eliminated, we’re having trouble motivating ourselves. It’s just so tempting to dally over morning coffee in front of the woodburner, sussing out the latest news from SURF New Brighton (check out the tee shirts from Tikidub clothing) , speculating on The Farmer’s weekend away in the big smoke of Auckland (the Homestead is always a bit odd when one of our number is absent) or planning for the upcoming Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Any excuse really.
But what’s that?
The Goat Herd aka Engineer in Residence is advancing, papers in hand advising us the Union Homestead Gantt Chart dictates action.
Time to pull on the gumboots and head outside. There’s more jobs waiting.