There’s a reliable cadence to Rachael Taylor-Tuller’s life—twice a day she milks the goats, three times a week she turns that milk into cheese, and once a week that cheese ends up in shops along the Interstate 5 corridor from Olympia, Washington north to Marysville. With grit and humor, she and her husband have willed 11 acres into a micro dairy that produces some of the most sought-after cheese in the Pacific Northwest.
It’s a far cry from the life Rachael knew growing up an Air Force brat, never in one place long enough to put down real roots. Her dad, a Colonel and F-15 pilot, was her hero back then and when it came to choosing college, she entered the Air Force Academy, followed by a tour of service in Iraq.
“When you come back from a place like that, you’re kind of dead inside,” said Rachael. “You want to feel things and there's nothing more real than weathering the storms of farming.” Admittedly though, she didn’t know the first thing about farming. She and her partner Matthew soon learned the secrets of agriculture the old-fashioned way—many hours on YouTube.
“When I first moved here, the land was dead—it was dirt,” said Rachael. “You couldn't even pay a worm to live here.” Success with chickens stoked their farming ambitions.
“I bought my first goats and it’s like potato chips. You can't just have one. I wanted all the goats. So, I asked myself, ‘what job can I have where I get to have all the goats?’
These days the herd numbers 60 and with a wink, she sometimes refers to herself as Chief Milkmaid. “Every time milk becomes cheese, it feels like magic,” she said. Nobody thought they would make it a single season, but six years later, they’ve earned their status at Lost Peacock Creamery as successful first-generation farmers.
They’ve added pasture-raised hogs to their farm—pigs that feast on the daily whey byproduct from the cheesemaking process. They set aside two of their 11 acres for reforestation, planted 2,000 trees, and created a refuge for wildlife. For Rachael, this isn’t just about making a living, it’s about making a life.
“If I can farm in a way that not only repairs the earth, but creates a haven, well someday my children will have a little slice of land that isn't ripped of its resources,” said Rachel. Their two young children know the seasonal rhythms. They have responsibilities and chores. They’ve seen life and death and they know exactly where their food comes from.
When the family carves out time away from the dairy, it’s to go out on packing adventures with their horses. As a girl Rachael always wanted a horse, so she finally got one. But horses are kind of like potato chips too, and now they’ve got a small herd. “If you look at those animals, they want to get out there,” she said.
We love being in the mountains and the best way to be in the mountains is with horses. All you worry about up there is that moment in time and you can really drink each other up, experience what it is to be human with the people you love.
If there’s a farm-raised product she’s most proud of, it’s her kids and the community this farm has created. When her dad died of cancer, her mom bought a parcel of land next to Lost Peacock. And then her best friends bought land next to her mom. The rootless Air Force brat has now placed herself firmly in this place.
Not long ago, Rachael’s daughter asked her if they were rich. Rachael turned the question back around and her daughter fell quiet for a few seconds. “Yeah, I think we’re rich,” she said. “Because we eat dinner together every single night, because we will never want for food since it's all grown on this farm, and because we go into the mountains with horses. There's no better life than that.”