Eric & Kathy Boyle | Set builder/props maker and Domestic goddess/animal wrangler
Oratia, West Auckland | February 2014
"We love our farm and everyday we think how lucky we are to live here amongst such beauty.” ....more words below images
We are a North East facing small lifestyle block in the Waitakere Ranges, part bush, part open paddocks, originally surrounded by mature Macrocarpa shelter belts. Our land is mostly marginal clay based soil, so not so good for pasture, but great for trees.
We moved here in ’93 with the desire to be self- sufficient and improve the property so that the land could be productive and balanced, an oasis preserved for the future. We have gone about this by removing most of the Macrocarpas which we milled on site with a portable saw mill and have used the timber in our building projects, like a barn for goats and chickens, a honey house to process our bees honey as well as making all of their frames and boxes, raised garden beds and fences.
We have planted thousands of trees,some in a forestry block for future production, some in orchards both citrus and apples, as well as plums, cherries, pears, olives, feijoas, cherimoyas, persimmons, macadamias, walnuts, chestnuts, pine nuts and of course a huge variety of natives and ornamentals which include over 30 different Magnolias. We have also planted over a hundred fodder trees like willow, poplar and tagasaste which we cut and feed to our milking goats.
We grow most of our vegetable and herb gardens in raised beds and have a unique system for our salad garden which keeps growing lettuce almost year round. Because we are on the slope of the Waitakere Ranges above the Oratia valley we rarely get frosts and only in small pockets. This means we can also grow bananas, which we do, it also means we can’t grow peaches or apricots very well, which we don’t try to do anymore. Our heavy clay soil also means we have never been able to grow avocados, though we certainly have tried.
We have a variety of animals, currently a dozen milking goats, 6 shaver chickens for eggs, around 20 adorable bantam chickens, 4 white Indian runner ducks and 3 dogs. We have had a pet Kunekune pig (Poppy) who lived a long happy life free ranging with the goats and chickens and hope to get a new one this year, as well as much loved Jersey cow (Felicity) who raised a dozen calves for us over the years as well as providing us with rich creamy milk and a delightful Muscovy duck (Madeleine) who successfully raised many huge flying ducks, a story in itself.
Eric is the heavy labour guy (now assisted by our teenage son Evan) who has built all the garden beds (as well as milled the timber to build them with), dug, mulched and planted all the veggies, fruit and trees. We all pick the produce as wanted and needed and Kathy does most of the processing (washing and turning produce into meals). Eric and Evan do all the bee keeping jobs and Kathy is the head goat keeper and milker.
We love our farm and everyday we think how lucky we are to live here surrounded by such beauty and whenever we go out, we are in a hurry to get back home to our oasis.