The Three Year Plan

There is a saying in Germany that "the dumbest farmer has the biggest potatoes". I guess this means that there is a lot of luck in growing food. But it also means you can over think things.


Well, I've never been accused of knowing exactly what I am going to do before I start doing it. I like to have a strong idea of where I am going to go, and a couple of cool looking possible routes thought out in my head, but the process of uncovering the journey is usually more fulfilling than trying to predetermine every step. And I do have the biggest potatoes.



For this to work, for me, I do need strong and simple targets. The stronger and simpler, the better.

A statement of intent should be bold enough to be have the power to motivate throughout the life cycle of the project, and simple enough to be able to answer all questions of priority and necessity.


For the barracks, I made a three year plan. I think each year's statement of intent is bold, and I think they are simple. They look like this.


  • Year One: Do Not Die.

  • Year Two: Self Sufficiency

  • Year Three: Thriving

Do you see what I am getting at? Simple, bold and the answer to every question.


I have a million great ideas for how the potager should look - reclaimed redbrick paths laid in herringbone patterns, with mixed wattle fencing. I really want to do this. But I look at my list of intents, and it clearly progresses me not a carrot's breadth towards the year one goal of "Do Not Die". I have almost no interest whatsoever in scraping out the remnants of window putty that barely holds the glazing in place, but does let the Siberian winds flow clean into the loft. It's a boring, repetitive job that even if you do it all yourself (which, obviously, I do. Pay for someone else to do it? Just because it's an awful job.... that's not cool!), and costs a tonne of money in materials. But clearly, dying in my bed one winter's night is the most probable way I will fail to achieve the Year One target, so I guess I had better do it.

(Incidentally, I really really had no interest in sewing curtains when I started. I have never touched a sewing machine before, and it looked distinctly frustrating and annoying. I have now sewn something like 200m2 of them, and I bloody love it!)


The target for year one says nothing about self sufficiency, nothing about having a good time, and even less about shutting myself off from society. It says Do Not Die.


Words to live by.






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