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Life Summit 2016

by Going Slowly

We recently held a “life summit,” a semi-regular event where we sit down to review our life plan. We've canonized our hopes and dreams in a document that starts in 2008 and currently runs to 2026. Most of the time, reading our plan is a life-affirming check-in, an opportunity to intentionally recognize how far we've come, and to get inspired about where we are going. It's also an opportunity to question what we are doing to make sure it still feels right.

Unsurprisingly, our homestead was the focal point of our "summit." For the past five years it has pretty much consumed our lives. Here are the broad strokes of what we've done with it so far, and what we plan to do in the years to come.

Phase One (2011-2016)

Phase Two (2017-2022)

  • We have a septic system (designs are underway).

  • We have a home to raise a family in (~1000 square feet / timberframe / strawbale wrap).

  • We have a bath-house for guests.

  • We open our cottage to artists and begin a residency program.

Phase Three (2023+)

  • We have extensive gardens and spend our days maintaining them.

  • We have beehives, chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, geese and all the associated infrastructure required to manage them.

  • We have and regularly use a beautiful outdoor gathering space with a cob oven for baking, community pizza nights, etc.

  • We have a sauna in the woods near our rehabilitated spring-fed swimming pond.

While reviewing our plan, we came to a few important realizations. Chief among them is this: we are burnt out on building. It has been nearly five years since we returned from our world bicycle tour. Since then, our lives have been dedicated to learning building skills and putting them to practice. It's incredible how much we have learned, and how much we have accomplished.

Us Shaping a Rafter Rick & Tara Clearing Home Site Tyler Laying Earth Stabilization Fabric Grindbygg Timber Frame Workshop Straw Bale Cottage in Progress Us Plastering Our Tiny Straw Bale Cottage, Facing East (Ladder Swung Out of the Way)

When we first embarked on our homesteading adventure, we felt a deep desire to be responsible for our physical survival. We wanted to build a beautiful shelter, be as energy independent as possible, grow our own food, etc. As it turns out, this road is a lot longer than we realized it would be. In actual fact, we've come to accept that self sufficiency isn't a goal we'll ever check off a list. It is something we will be pursuing for the rest of our lives.

So, it's time to draw a line in the sand and declare this phase of our adventure a success.


We've decided that the next five years of homesteading will not look like the previous. As we look to building our next and likely final home, we're pretty dang sure we don't want to do all the work ourselves. While the satisfaction of living in a shelter we built ourselves is immense, the amount of life force it requires is more than we are willing to give. As we prepare for the next building season we're looking at hiring in some help. We're still committed to our plan but the road to completion is one we're actively evaluating in a way we never have before.

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awesome to see some new posts guys. congrats again on all you've accomplished over the last 5yrs. hope the orchard is coming in well this spring and maybe see some updates on that and the garden! keep up the great work!
cheers from sunny seattle!
Posted by aaron on April 21st, 2016 at 3:23 PM
Good post. You guys have done so many amazing things, and I totally understand your decisions. Just keep us updated! I've been following since 2008, and I don't want it to ever stop!
Posted by Erik on April 21st, 2016 at 6:08 PM
So glad to see this post, and that you are still in 'onward and upward' mode. I love your dreams and how you go about realizing them (snags and all) and reporting on them. I hope to continue to see these posts in the years to come!
Posted by Nancy Kane on April 22nd, 2016 at 9:29 AM
So glad to see this post, and that you are still in 'onward and upward' mode. I love your dreams and how you go about realizing them (snags and all) and reporting on them. I hope to continue to see these posts in the years to come!
Posted by Nancy Kane on April 22nd, 2016 at 9:29 AM
I love this post and the fact that you guys can say.. enough is enough(for the time being anyway) and your faces...especially the dirty ones in that last photo. You're just adorable:)
Posted by Natasha on April 24th, 2016 at 10:59 PM
How funny, it seems we have similar ambitions!

I'm about to head off on a 5-10 year world cycle trip with my partner, after which we plan to settle down and open our own eco-hostel (not quite a homestead, but similar). We're actually hoping to speak to different eco hostels/ lodges etc along the way to find out the best ways to go about achieving our dreams. I'm not sure where you guys are based, we we're starting the trip by cycling across Canada then the USA... would be pretty awesome to stop by and see the progress if you're based along our route..

Either way - good luck with the building, and we'll be following along through your website.
Posted by Kelly on April 25th, 2016 at 12:21 AM
So grateful for this post, as it helped me see the holes in my own planning. I'm desperate to get past the "if wishing made it so" phase, and unfortunately, we have a lot of debt to overcome first. You guys rock!
Posted by Melanie J. on May 9th, 2016 at 12:51 PM
Aaron - Thanks! Orchard update-- great idea! I'll post one soon. In the meantime, just for you: the trees made it through winter unscathed, and they're leafing out now. :)

Erik - Wow, that's awesome! Thanks!

Nancy Kane - Thanks!

Natasha - AW <3 We love you!!

Kelly - We're in Vermont. Send us a contact via the button in the top right corner of our website, and we'll see if it'll work out to meet up. Best of luck on your journey!

Melanie - Glad you found it helpful! Keep on truckin' on realizing your dreams!
Posted by Tara on May 10th, 2016 at 8:23 AM