Valerie Walter
Member since 2011

I grew up in Michigan, in a city. I never thought of myself as a farm girl.  In fact I thought my life was ending when in high school I found out we were moving to Indiana. Little did I know that that move was setting me down a path that would lead me here.

There I met Jack, yes, in high school, first day of freshman year. We were friends for a good three years before I finally woke up to the fact that there was something more there. He then broke my heart by joining the navy. I was a “peace loving hippie”. I thought this was the end. Again, endings are just usually beginnings in disguise. We got engaged and then married a year after he had been in the navy. We started another journey. We have lived in many places, South Carolina, Georgia, Connecticut, Hawaii and Washington. All that time we grew as people and we grew together. We started a family and that kind of woke me up. I realized that I did not like the world I was living in and wanted to change it. I wanted my children to grow up feeling love, being respected and respecting the world we lived in.

It started slowly. We changed the way we ate. We gave up cleaning products. We gave up paper. We raised our children with attachment parenting principles, child led weaning, co sleeping, elimination communication, baby wearing.  It was slow and steady progress. But nothing ever seemed like enough. I wasn’t happy with the change, I wanted more. Sometime while we were in Hawaii, in 2004, I started telling Jack that I really wanted to live with like minded people. We were still in the navy and we did have community. In fact I was very active in an attachment parenting group that was at least half military. Believe me, I never thought the military would be like it is. Before you generalize what you think makes up your average military person or family you should get to know one, or a few. I wanted more though. I wanted more connection. At the time I had no idea that intentional communities existed, but I kept telling Jack I wanted to be a part of one.

We moved to Washington and again I was very active in our AP group. We would fantasize about all living together, seeing our children play, sharing work. It was some time during those years that I saw that there were actually people doing this. I was super excited and really wanted to be a part of it.  Jack and I stared increasing our skills at farming and animal care. We only had 2/3 of an acre there but we planted fruit trees, blueberries and an amazing row of strawberries that never bore fruit because of a toddler Gwendy monster who ate them all while they were green. We tore up our front yard and planted the entire thing in raised bed gardens. We got dairy goats, chickens, ducks and rabbits. We milked, collected eggs, fed animals and learned the joys and sadness of raising animals. We loved it so amazingly much. It felt right. We saw our children grow in ways that we hoped they would. We were known in our neighborhood as the “homestead on the hill” and we were changing our neighbors thoughts on what was possible. But it wasn’t enough.

Jack got out of the navy in 2010. We knew that we had two choices. We could play it safe and go on with “jobs” and our half life of homesteading, or we could jump off the cliff of playing it safe and try for what we really wanted, homesteading and community.

I am one for playing it safe. Jack is all for jumping off cliffs. We balance each other well. He was all for jumping off the cliff but I was scared. We had three children, two cats and a dog. Not to mention all of our livestock that wouldn’t be able to come with us. Jack was furiously looking at internships. In two months he convinced me to jump off the cliff. We all packed up, sold most of everything we owned, found homes for our livestock and left Washington.

We interned for ten months in Springfield Missouri. We hadn’t been in the midwest since high school. We hadn’t been away from the ocean since we got married. It was a little bit of a shock. A lot of it because we were now in the bible belt. Our family is mostly pagan but we found refuge in a local Universalist Unitarian church. Our thoughts were, if we could intern on a farm and see if this was what we really wanted, it was the bridge between cliffs. Okay, maybe it was slightly more than a bridge. It was pretty much jumping off the cliff, but it made me feel better.

I found that I loved farm life. I loved being a part of it even more than I already thought I had. I loved my daughters having that sort of responsibility. I loved working as a family. I loved spending time we each other. We had many opportunities to do different things when we were down there. We were offered partnerships, had land opportunities, there was always something. We jumped off a cliff and we found many places to land, but none of them sounded quite right. We found Red Earths website and went to visit. It was a great visit, but again, we weren’t sure if it was the right place to land. We went back to Springfield and over the course of a month we found that we kept comparing all other options to Red Earth. It was decided, we applied for residency.

It wasn’t easy our journey here. Though I don’t think that any journey that is worth anything should be easy. Our journey is not ended though. It is ongoing.

A little bit about me that isn’t covered in here. I am a home schooling mom. We are eclectic. I love unschooling but my daughters like a bit of structure, okay a lot of structure. We take learning very seriously in our family. I am a fiber artist. I love to knit, sometimes crochet, spin, working on weaving. I admit to being slightly more than obsessed with anything fiber related. I love animals. I love caring for animals and forming a relationship with them, even if I plan on eating them eventually. My goal as a farmer is that my animals only have one bad day in their life, and even that isn’t that bad. I love to read and listen to music, mostly Jimmy Buffet and traditional Irish music. I have a lot of ideals and have a hard time getting to where I want to be in them. I strive for many things and hope to grow and become a better person until the day I die.