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)
We have a guesthouse for friends/family/artists-in-residence to live in (a.k.a. our cottage).
We have an art studio (a.k.a. our workshop in progress).
We have an orchard that grows abundant fruit.
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.
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.