Homesite Picnic


HomesitePicnic1 HomesitePicnic2 HomesitePicnic3 HomesitePicnic4

Taking advantage of some warm, sunny winter days, we enjoyed a home site picnic last week.  The western view from our hilltop is just stunning, and it was easy to imagine including a deep covered porch in our house design to take advantage the evening sunsets.  Tucked in against a northern forest, the future house site just feels so right, and so exciting.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might notice that this land looks somehow different than what you’ve seen before.  That’s exactly true – we have decided to relocate to a piece of land just to the north, and join two other families in creating a community land trust on 60 acres.  How this came to be is really a result of trusting our intuition, being open to new possibility, and communicating openly about feelings and desires.  And there is a tiny dash of crazy thrown in there for good measure, but this decision does not in any way feel impulsive, but rather like a curvy path to getting to what was meant to be.

I am so excited to share this journey over the next few months as we begin to literally dig into new ground.  Right now our nightly conversations center around driveway construction, gravel trucks, hiring Amish neighbors to plow a field, ordering local oak lumber from the Amish mill, and designing a “summer shanty” to move to in April.  We’re in a time full of overwhelming details and almost impossible goals.  But it feels really good to remember my intentions for 2013:  TRUST.

Wishing you a beauty-filled weekend! Teri

P.S.  I’m giving away a copy of the book Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes.  If you’re interested in a chance to win, check this post out, and say hello in the comments!  The giveaway will close on Wednesday January 23rd!

Touring the Tri-Communities

After years of hearing about the “tri-communities” of Northern Missouri – Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, Red Earth Farms, and Sandhill Farm – we finally had the opportunity to visit the three communities yesterday.  To say that it was an inspiring day would be an understatement.  The three communities are vastly different, in size and in focus, but I came away from each of them feeling so invigorated and excited about the path that lies ahead as we seek to create our own homestead.

Our primary goal for this tour was to check out the basics of food, water, and shelter.  How are people building in Northeast Missouri, and what kinds of materials are they using?  What kinds of irrigation systems are in place for growing food?  How are communities meeting their drinking water needs?  What about electricity?  How can we adapt what we see for our own needs as a family of four?

What was truly exciting was to see a diversity of systems that worked well for each person or family.  For instance, the first small home we visited cost less than $3000 to build, had one single solar panel to power a light and radio, and the owner only built fires indoors when the temperature got below 40 degrees!  Contrast that with the exceptionally comfortable and spacious community building at Dancing Rabbit, in which there is internet, hot showers, composting toilets, refrigerators and washing machines.

Here are some of my favorite buildings:

A south facing sun room/greenhouse provides growing space and warmth.  In the winter, the residents open the door to their house, and let the warm air from the sun room enter.  In the summertime, they shade/screen the sun room.

A south facing sun room/greenhouse provides growing space and warmth at this Red Earth Farms home. In the winter, the residents open the door to their house, and let the warm air from the sun room enter. In the summertime, they shade/screen the sun room.

A composting toilet at Red Earth Farms.

A composting toilet at Red Earth Farms.

30 x 60 foot greenhouse.  My dream.

30 x 60 foot greenhouse at Red Earth Farms.  There were still greens and carrots growing, even after several 20 degree nights. 
An underground cistern collects rainwater from this house's roof.  Water is pumped through a filter before drinking.

An underground cistern collects rainwater from this house’s roof. I love that they used an antique hand powered pump to move the water from the cistern to the house. Water can be poured through a filter before drinking.

The community building at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

The community building at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

A temporary structure at DR.

A temporary structure at DR.

Many of the dwellings at DR had living roofs.

Many of the dwellings at DR had living roofs.

Mosaic in earthen plaster exterior.

Mosaic in earthen plaster exterior.

This house really captured my heart with its big windows and warm colors.

This house really captured my heart with its big windows and warm colors.

Another awesome building at DR.

Another awesome building at DR.

Timber-framed strawbale house in progress.

Timber-framed strawbale house in progress.

There was a very wide diversity of houses at Dancing Rabbit, including this old school bus!

There was a very wide diversity of houses at Dancing Rabbit, including this old school bus!

Check out these communities’ websites.  They have so much to offer and share!








Getting here

Our “Missouri Trail” adventure took us across eight states, three time zones, and into the homes of four friends.  To my delight, we followed much of the original Oregon Trail route, through the Columbia Gorge, across Goodale’s Cutoff, and along the Platte River.  The trip was fun, exhilarating, boring, desolate, terrifying, and wonderful.  Here are a few highlights:

One of the many potty breaks along the side of the road, with our modern covered wagon.

Lava beds, in Idaho.

The remote Centennial Valley in southwestern Montana, close to the headwaters of the Missouri River!

Yellowstone National Park.  This was one of the scenic highlights of the trip for me, and I cannot wait to go back some day and explore the backcountry!

Old Faithful!

Driving through a herd of bison in Yellowstone.  Bison and bison poop might have been the biggest hits for the kids.

At Firehole Falls. Happy to be out of the car!  I regret to say that I did not take a single photo of anything east of Yellowstone. It was SO windy.  Windy to the point of tipping over semi trucks on the interstate!

And then onward through Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, an itty bitty bit of Iowa, and into Missouri we went, where we are unpacking and settling in!

Embracing the Unknown

In our grand division of homestead labor, goat care has fallen squarely on the shoulders of my husband in the past year or two.  I still spend time with the goats, and really look forward to the day when I can resume my share of their care, but for now I’m focusing my energy on other homestead chores.  So it took me by surprise to help put the goats away last night and look over to see Sable’s stall empty.   Even though we had all gone as a family to bring Sable to her new home (a lovely homestead where two of her half-sisters already live), somehow the sight of the empty stall was so viscerally real and final.

These weeks are full of goodbyes – teary goodbyes to friends that we won’t see again, transporting goats to new homes, bringing our cat to live with a friend (who was the cat’s original owner 10 years ago), packing items in boxes knowing that we won’t open them for months or years, and tossing books and clothes that we don’t want to move across country.   Saying goodbye to the comfortable and familiar, to the routine and habitual, to this beautiful and wonderful land and home.

Entering into the space of possibility, potential and the discomfort of the unknown is downright scary!  I have been having a really hard time with this transition, imagining all sorts of 11th hour strategies to remain here in our little home.  Yet although my heart really truly wants to stay, my gut somehow knows this is not the answer.

To arrive at the decision to move to Missouri (a two year-long, fairly agonizing process), our family has visited the MO land three times.  We have had countless conversations with friends, consulted the I-Ching, met twice with a tarot reader, and made endless lists and flow charts (yes – flowcharts!!).  Ultimately, the decision has rested on a vision of what we want to create in our lives.  Some of the guiding principles include:

  •  We want to lovingly and mindfully create a homestead that will nurture our family with food, shelter, and beauty.
  • In order to fully invest in our homestead, we choose to be HOME, and not working full-time at off-site jobs.
  • We purchased a piece of land outright, so we have no debt, and we will build small, beautiful, and functional living spaces as funds become available.
  • We wish to be surrounded by a community that shares our values and will support us in our vision.
  • We want to live within walking distance of other families and friends with whom we can share the joys and challenges of raising children.

What has been so difficult in this process is that we already have so many of these gifts here in Oregon.  We are blessed with wonderful friends and neighbors in a truly beautiful community.

I don’t know if we’re making the right decision.  The only way we’ll truly know is to go to Missouri and give it a try.  What I do know is that we are going to get the opportunity to challenge ourselves in ways that I never imagined.  As my sweet friend told me the other day, “the journey is the prize.”

So friends, I am going to sign off this blog for the next two or three weeks while I concentrate on packing, moving, and settling into our new (temporary) home.  I will continue to post updates on my Facebook page and I anticipate returning to this space in mid-October.

Thank you for joining me on this journey, and I look forward to connecting in the near future!


Home again, home again

We’re home.  After three weeks of travel via planes, cars, subways, trains, and swan boats.  Home after visiting family, old friends, and new friends.  Home after swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, watching a thunderstorm roll in, sleeping on the Amtrak, witnessing a marriage ceremony.  Home to a garden that is about to burst, piles of “things to do” and the most gorgeous weather imaginable.

No trip to Boston is complete without a ride on the Swan Boats in the Public Garden!

Ev and Ella with Quack, Pack, Ouack, and Mack.

Four generations of women in my family. Grandma Barbara, Ella, my Nonni Antonetta, and me. This photo was taken on Nonni’s 92nd birthday!

Northeast Missouri has the most incredible skies and breezes that dry cloth diapers in mere hours!

Ella and Bella, a 25 year old Percheron, and the work horse of our dear friends in MO.

And this, my friends, is the site of our future shop/temporary home on our very own piece of land in Northeast Missouri.  Yes, we will soon be leaving our beloved home here in Oregon for new adventures in the Midwest.  I look forward to sharing these adventures with you in the very near future.

Wishing you a beautiful day!