I am back home after my month long, now annual, visit to Cherry Lane Cottage iin New Zealand. James was busy with Adventure Bible School, Charlee had “kindy” (preschool) three mornings a week, and Simee needed a midday nap, so we mostly hung out and shared Annie’s life as mum and caretaker of their two acres. They are seriously considering buying this “lifestyle block” (for what seems like an astronomical price) so I have been thinking a lot about Annie’s life.
First of all, she loves it—and can think of few things better than owning this little piece of the world. Actually, she visited this house way before she was married and told me that was where she wanted to live. She loved the kitchen in particular, but thought the house was the best. It was/is owned by Peter & Elizabeth Thomas, then principal of Capernwray school. About five or six years ago, the Thomas’ moved to Australia to help with the work there. Their kids have grown and settled in the area, so they are considering selling the house and settling in Australia.
Cherry Lane Cottage is just off the main highway, the second house along a short road consisting of four or five farms and two or three ‘hobby farms. (The difference is whether the farmers also have a day job that supports their lifestyle.) Anne and James live on a narrow two acres, that includes the house, two or three paddocks, a chicken coop, a small hut, and a big shed. It is a bit overgrown, in spite of the fact that John arrived two weeks before me and worked hard clearing some of the overgrowth. Huge pineapple-type trees, hydrangeas, lillies, roses, fuchsia, a “truffula tree” (or Dr. Suess Tree) as well as a large vegetable garden and a small orchard (lemon, peach, apple, fig, avocado, fejoa and grapefruit trees.) There are currently about nine chickens, a rooster, and five ducks, as well as two horses (temporary) and eight sheep. Oh, and a cat and a 14 week old puppy dog.
The house is an old frame ranch with three bedrooms, two baths, a lovely kitchen and living room. It has a wrap around porch hosting a hammock at one end and swing at the other. It also has no insulation and had no screens until John started building magnetic screens a few years ago. I think he has built three or four so far. It also has five french doors to the out-of-doors, which is lovely in summer but hardly airtight the rest of the year. It is heated with a wood stove and a few room heaters as needed. The water comes from a couple cisterns which regularly run dry in the summer drought.
Although it sounds idyllic, it’s also a lot of work, especially with two small children and a puppy. Fortunately Anne loves physical labor, truly enjoying mowing, working in the garden, caring for her family and pets, and chopping wood. I’ve been impressed with how hard she works.
Some things just take longer. She does a couple loads of laundry most days that are pegged on the clothesline and then taken down later (on good sunny days.) Not quite like pushing a button on the dryer and having soft warm clothes as a result. The towels are rough, the clothes somewhat wrinkled and stiff. Dishes require hand washing. (They do have a broken dishwasher but probably wouldn’t use it much even if it worked because of the water/energy usage. Water needs to be conserved as well as electricity.)
But don’t feel sorry for Annie! She is young, strong, healthy and loves her life here. Her children are growing up with space to run and play, lots of fresh air and fresh food (and boy, are they ever cute!) She and James are supported by (and contributing to) great communities at church and at Capernwray.
I’m pretty proud of my Annie girl.
Below are some typical pictures of the house, land and a few of my beautiful granddaughters.