With help from her goats, her husband Matt and Northwest Farm Credit Services, Rachael Taylor-Tuller found the therapy - and purpose - she needed to transition from veteran to farmer.
Rachael Taylor-Tuller didn’t grow up in a rural community. She came from a military family that moved every couple years. As a young girl, she longed to put down roots on a little land of her own one day. But the military life was all she knew, so as a young woman, she accepted an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.
After graduation, Rachael spent four years at McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, Wash., where she functioned primarily as a mortuary officer. Her duties involved working with not only deceased military personnel but also the families of the fallen. In 2007, she deployed to Iraq as a protocol officer.
After serving her commitment, Rachael was honorably discharged from the military, but struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She enrolled in military funded therapy and continued working on herself for two years after leaving the military. But therapy alone wouldn’t be her answer.
Rachael gets her goat
Out of the military and uniform, Rachael realized her dream and bought some land and a few backyard chickens. She soon found the health benefits—both physical and mental—from producing her own food and she was determined to start her own farm and share the experience with her community.
Then, Rachael met a goat. “My first goat captured my heart so much,” she says. “I had to come up with a job where I could have all the goats I wanted. A goat dairy seemed like a great idea.”
Getting started, however, was not easy. Being a young, beginning farmer with a big dream, she struggled to find a lender. Northwest Farm Credit Services was the only one that believed in her and saw the farm’s potential. Through the AgVision program, she bought an 11-acre farm and started building on her dream. “This farm is part of me,” says Rachel. “From the first time I set foot on its soil, a piece of my soul awakened.” Three years later and just two weeks after having her second child, Rachael and her husband, Matthew, licensed their Grade A goat dairy, Lost Peacock Creamery.
Therapy meets farming
Everything Rachael was learning in her counselor’s office started to make more sense once she started farming. The goats and the farm were becoming her therapy. She was growing stronger than ever. “Farming has a beautiful way of building you up and making you stronger. Now, a few years in, it's harder to tear me down, or for me to feel like I'm flailing,” Rachael says. Getting her hands dirty and working hard enabled her to get out of her headspace and find some peace.
“When you’re in the military, every single day you wake up with a sense of purpose. When you leave the military, it's easy to feel like you're floating through life with no direction,” Rachael says. “Farming helped to ground me, to give me new purpose, both in caring for animals and feeding people. I have always liked feeling I was part of something bigger than myself. First, it was the military, and now it's farming.”