Today is the fourth anniversary of us taking legal possession of the little chunk of land we call home. Four years. Nothing’s quite gone to the original plan, but we are still here and doing our best.

Things have changed quite a bit since 2019. We’ve all been through a lot. Looking at some old pictures made me think that now would be a good time to show our progress.

Because there has been progress.

So I went through my oldest pictures of this place, then I tried to recreate the same photos today. That turned out to be harder than I originally thought, but I’m pretty happy with what I’ve managed to capture here for you.

I’ve installed a fancy new plugin to show the befores and afters. Please let me know in the comments if you have trouble with it.

Taken 27 July 2019, we didn’t even officially own the property when this photo was taken. Though we had paid the lawyers for it, and the vendors had given us permission to begin moving our stuff up.

Our container hadn’t arrived, and we hadn’t planted a single thing. We didn’t have the keys, but we were so keen to look around that we trotted around the property with a packed lunch in the pouring rain.

A few of the ‘before’ photos on this post are from that trip, because it is truly the most ‘before’ I can get!

On that same trip, I took a rainy photo of the garden I had inherited. The beds were in a totally different format, running along the contour of the slope. It’s a smart plan for water capture, but made controlling the kikuyu impossible!

Today, I have much larger beds. While I still struggle with kikuyu, it’s much less work now!

You can also see our herb garden which was built on an existing compost pile; the washing line (which was the very first thing we decided on and installed once we moved here); the edges of our feijoas; native plantings; and bananas from this point of view.

I try and take a version of this photo every month, beginning not long after we moved up. I could probably do an interesting timelapse with it eventually. 

You can see what we’ve been up to in the foreground, and the planting we did for our neighbour last year on the left of our compound.

But the more interesting activity (in my opinion) is happening over the valley in the hills straight ahead, where we’ve been watching a forest disappear for nearly a year now.

Another photo from our first trip, looking in the same direction, but from a slightly different angle.

I remember taking this photo. The rain cleared for a moment and I thought ‘oh, I can see out to our back boundary from here’. This particular photo has stuck in my mind due to the lack of gorse.

You can’t really see the boundary for the gorse now. We’re making slow and steady progress on that. But if I could go back and tell 2019 me anything at all – it would be to spend the summer of 2019 ruthlessly spraying every gorse bush she sees.

This is another one where you can really see the forestry that’s been going on lately in the background.

Looking back towards the cabin from the top of the race that runs along our southern boundary. 

I did try to find a few ‘photo points’ in the early days – spots that showed a lot of the property. This is one of them, giving a view from the other direction to the last couple.

There hasn’t been a huge amount of activity here – painting and planting mostly. There’s a ‘duck shelter’ which we removed gleaming in the middle there. Our orchard is a little bigger now.

I’m hopeful the next time I publish something like this, this one will show a house in some stage of being built.

I took this photo the day after we took possession. Things didn’t officially happen until towards the end of the actual transfer date, so I came up the next day.

I collected the keys, installed our weather monitor, and planted the garlic – which by this stage was very keen to be planted!!

Up on the hill, you can see one of the plantings that pre-dates us has matured nicely. But you’ll also see we are expanding the plantings and introducing some wind protections.

The shadehouse cover also exploded in 2021 and was re-covered with bird net and shade cloth to transform it into a berry house.

Ganoderma applanatum (Artist’s Bracket Fungus, Pākaiahi) – this is an incredible mushroom with many valuable uses. They can live up to 30 years. The original photo here was taken 6 November 2019, and it’s still growing in 2023!

This specimen pushed me to learn more about them. It turns out they’re super-duper flammable, making them excellent firestarters especially in wet conditions.

They’re also a highly valuable rongoā and also used in Chinese traditional medicine to treat chest and lung conditions. I’ve taken a few photos of this one over the last few years and I couldn’t help but include it – I think it’s cool.

That’s all, folks

I’d hoped to have more of these photos to do, but it turns out that figuring out exactly where you stood and pointed a camera 4 years ago can be incredibly difficult! I’m happy with how these turned out, but they’re the best of hundreds of shots.

Still. I think they go a good job of showing our progress so far. And having gone through the pain of figuring it out now, I should have less trouble taking these photos again in the future.

The last four years have really zoomed by, and a lot has happened in that time. It will be interesting to see where we get to a few more years from now.