A lot of people have asked why ‘Plum Tree’ as a name for our farm. Some have asked are there plum trees? Nope! Not one! Well we ended up planting two recently just so we can say yes there are plum trees. But they are not looking all that great; actually anyone who knew anything about plum trees would be in hysterics if they saw these two. So I guess we better explain the meaning behind the name ‘Plum Tree Farm’, as it has nothing to do with ‘Plum trees’.
Recently our family was devastated over the diagnoses of a terminal form of cancer with Mals dad. Chemo would buy him time, but as we soon discovered the time would not be quality. He opted to stop the chemo and enjoy the moments he had. Mal spent as much time on the phone or visiting as he could. It was during these visits that the conversations were about moments spent growing up on the Chatham Islands (it was a dream Mals dad had to return to the land he loved so much, but sadly time was ticking fast). Mal and I had been looking for land for a few years; we almost gave up as we didn’t want to grow old with a massive mortgage hanging over our heads. I just so happened to stumble across this place (plum tree farm) but instead of visiting it, I went to bank to see how possible it would be before getting our hopes up. The bank gave us the go ahead, so we viewed (twice) and purchased it, we then excitedly told our parents, both (mine and Mals) were a bit concerned that we were jumping in to fast, that it is so far away from things etc.…the usual concerns parents get. But as time passed and we took possession it became clear that we were happier, relaxed, that perhaps this was not such a bad idea after all. I guess it reflected through the changes in Mal and I.
Mal would spend many days sitting with his dad talking about the farm, which Mr G (Mals dad) enjoyed, I think it is because he saw himself when he was on his farm in his younger years.
When I would visit and told Mr G about our adventures I noticed it sparked some wonderful stories from the Chatam Islands, I loved seeing Mal and his dad talk of their times together and interestingly some of the stories reminded me of someone. It was during these discussions that it occurred to me that I was sitting here watching something pretty special.
You see 10 years ago I married a wonderful man, a man who loved me for me, who took on three children and fathered them like his own. A man with so much knowledge (some useful, some not so useful) a man who had an opinion on everything whether you wanted to hear it or not. He can do anything, build houses, do electrical work, fix bikes, cars trucks, the list goes on. I married a man with a heart as big as hearts can get, a man who sees the good in everyone and everything, and sitting in this room watching father and son absorbed in conversation I saw two peas in a pod, and I have an inkling the older version was slightly accident prone also. It was a good time to chat further with Mr G to see what I am in for with the younger Mr G, just so I am prepared!!
Sadly mals dads health deteriorated very quickly, both Mal and I wanted Mr & Mrs G to visit the farm, I probably pushed more than Mal I guess because while mal was worried about Mr G’s health I was focussing on creating memories. Special memories. Well approx 4 weeks ago an opportunity arose where majority (not all) of the family was up at the farm except for Mals parents as his dad was too sick to drive the 2hours it would take to get him here. Two days prior we cheekily suggested a helicopter and along with the rest of the family thought why not enquire to see if it could be possible. Thinking nothing more of it (until the whanau arrived up at the farm) that we heard back from the pilot giving the all clear for travel in 40mins!!! We all chipped in to make this happen, within the hour we gathered to watch the helicopter land on our top paddock, Mr & Mrs G grinning from ear to ear.
You see prior to this we had a family meeting in Blenheim, and Mr G mentioned that the likely hood of visiting the farm was slim so he had carved a stone, blessed it and the family each tookturns in blessing the stone (it sits on our bedroom window sill) it was such an emotional experience. But as much as the stone would be very special to us, deep down in my heart I felt it even more important to get Mr G to the farm. We felt it would help give some sense of closure for Mals dad (as far as land being back in the family, even though it’s not Chatham Island Land, but it is something). Both Mal and I felt very strongly about having land for our family and future generations. I also knew how close Mal is to his dad, I knew loosing Mr G would affect Mal considerably, so it was important for me to do what I can to help Mals grieving when dad does pass away.
So once the helicopter landed we all gathered around the house while Mrs G began to bless it, it was one of the best experiences!! The pilot was so wonderful; he waited for as long as we wanted.
The Grennell’s at ‘Plum Tree Farm’
Plum tree was the name Mr G came up with when we asked him to name the farm. There is a small bay on the Chatham Islands near where the Grennell’s grew up, a place where Mr G had the fondest of memories and was a meeting place for families to gather and share stories.
Plum Tree Farm is named in memory of Mals dad.