A life less technical

By Katie:

Here is a totally non-technical update of what the kids and I get up to in Atamai.

The kids enjoy playing outside a lot of course. There are plenty of trees to climb, dirt to dig in, bikes to ride, bulldozers and diggers to watch. During the summer we were spending one morning a week helping out in the orchard and community gardens. We still do sometimes, but have not been so regular as the weather has become colder.

We have spent a few days making cheese, either with Tracey and her 3-yr-old William or just by ourselves. So far, I have made successful feta, ricotta and have just tried Camembert (too early to tell whether that has “worked” yet).

We have tried out a lot of playgroups in the area, mostly homeschool ones. There are a lot of homeschoolers around, especially here in the Motueka Valley (as opposed to Motueka itself) because it is a bit further out of town. There are 3 groups we are involved in currently but they are all a bit irregular, there are usually one or two happening each week. They meet mostly on beaches and at parks. Sometimes they meet at peoples houses for a specific activity like woodwork or pottery. I’ve noticed that the homeschoolers here are mostly more informal with their lessons that the ones we met in Chch. Many of them are what could be termed “unschoolers” because the way they learn is not lesson based at all. Unschoolers learn by living, by playing and by being exposed to all the activities of the adults around them, and by investigating things that interest them. It is very self-directed learning.

One of the things I love about this area is the number of little communites there are. Each one is different so you can really pick one to suit yourself. Many of the children in these communities are homeschooled so we have come into contact with them through the homeschool network.

I have been doing quite a bit of knitting socks and hats recently. I’ve also crotcheted string bags and sewed some children’s clothes. I’ve got a book on making soft children’s shoes and I’d like to make a rag-rug. Following on from the success of our grain grinder we recently bought a roller/flaker (to make rolled oats) but are having some trouble with it. It will roll wheat and rye fine, but not oats…. Hmmm… will keep investigating.

Alysha and Jordan play the piano at some point most days. Alysha has made the breakthrough that I always loved watching when I was teaching. At some point each child realises that they don’t have to get someone to show them every note, they can work out the notes themselves by ear. Alysha is very excited about this and Jordan of course copies everything to the best of his ability. I hadn’t intended to teach piano again until we got our house built but I’ve been asked if I will teach one of the local homeschool kids. She had her first lesson this week and it went well :)

In accordance with living in an eco-village, we are monitoring where our food comes from. We would like all our staples to come from within NZ. We don’t mind eating things produced outside NZ as long as they are luxuries and not necessary. Most of our fresh produce comes from within Atamai so that is easy. Most of our bread grains (wheat and rye) are grown in the South Island so no problem there but there are many other classes of food that we haven’t yet managed to obtain within NZ. All our rice is grown overseas of course, and most of the dried beans/peas/lentils. Also nearly all our spices are grown overseas. We are starting to do a permaculture plan of our land and will really be investigating what can and can’t be grown locally.

We are excited about the changes happening in September. The family who has bought this house is coming to live in it and we will move (probably just in a caravan!) onto our land. It will be great to have another family with children here. There is also another couple planning on moving into their caravan on their land in September so that will be more neighbours. By the end of the year there should be at least one more couple in a Lockwood house on their land. It’s a very exciting time to be involved here, everything is happening!

The main (regular) social event here is the village meetings and potluck dinner. This event is every 2-3 weeks and involves a 2-hr meeting (while the kids listen or play in an adjoining room) then a potluck dinner and a lot more talking. We thoroughly enjoy these events and the kids look forward to them too. There are usually about 10-12 adults and 4 children.

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