Origin Story


As we (Kristy and Nathan) began to dream about our future together after we married in 2010, we realized that most of our waking hours were being spent working within a system that left us depleted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We dreamed of spending more of our time with those we loved: each other, our families, friends, the local community, and the land. That is where our wild dream began: with the desire to leave our 9-5 jobs behind and find a place where we could draw family closer to us (literally and figuratively) as we worked to build a more sustainable life on the land.

We spent the next several years dreaming, scheming, and saving far away from our families in Portland, Oregon (where both Kristy and Nathan finished their college degrees). In the meantime we started researching places that we thought we might like to live. We eventually started visiting some of those places to ground-truth whether they could be our future home. Sandpoint, Idaho; Sequim, Washington; and La Grande, Oregon were all places that we seriously thought might have potential. We even tried to convince both sets of our parents to uproot and join us on this adventure, wherever it took us.

The one place we definitely were not considering was South Dakota. Both our families still lived there and we both graduated from high school there as well. Despite those facts it seemed to meet very few of our other criteria. It was too cold in the winter, had too much heat and hail in the summer, and was not the first place we would have considered as “welcoming” to some of our “crunchier” tendencies.

However life has a way of presenting opportunities that you don’t expect. Nathan’s parents had shared our dream with various friends including the previous owners of the land that would be become Toad Hollow. For about 10 years Ken and Peggy had been living at and stewarding a property outside of Hot Springs, SD where they had tended their own gardens and fruit trees. They mentioned to Nathan’s parents that they were planning to move and that they were hoping to sell to someone who would take care of the property in the same spirit that they had. Ken and Peggy thought we would be perfect candidates and they invited us to come visit. Nathan’s parents mentioned this to him periodically and he basically brushed off the idea and didn’t even mentioned it to Kristy. There was no point in even looking. It was in South Dakota after all… that could never work.

In the summer of 2016 we were back in South Dakota visiting our families. During that visit, Nathan’s parents again mentioned Ken and Peggy’s property. While still not taking it seriously, Nathan suggested that we take a trip down to Hot Springs. In all honesty, he was definitely largely motivated to have an additional excuse to go swimming at Cascade Falls while we were down there.

As Ken gave us the first tour of his property we weren’t paying that close of attention since we were skeptical that we would be interested. Ken showed us around and told us about the house, the other buildings on the property, the gardens, the fruit trees, the well, the spring, and the natural prairie and forest. It slowly dawned on both of us that this piece of property was actually checking off most of the boxes on our mental “wish list” for the type of land we were hoping to buy someday.

It was official. Our interest was piqued and Ken and Peggy wanted to sell to us if we were interested. The catch was that they wanted an answer in the next month or so. We had to decide if we were going to purchase a property in a place that we seriously considered living.

We took the next few weeks to ponder the property and our future. We weighed the pros and cons. It had a lot going for it but it wasn’t perfect. Should we make this big leap? Should we make this large purchase several years earlier than we expected? Ultimately, we decided an opportunity like this was unlikely to come up again. So we made the leap.

In October we returned to South Dakota to meet with the local small-town lawyer to draw up the paperwork. The night before we signed the papers Ken and Peggy invited us to spend the night with them so that we could truly get a feel for the place. It also gave us the opportunity to get to know them better. We already knew they were lovely people, but the overnight stay confirmed it. And we didn’t have any second thoughts after that visit. The next morning, all four of us signed the paperwork. We hugged each other afterwards, not standard for a buyer and seller from what we hear.

Then the journey truly began…