We love animals of all shapes and sizes.
We love sunsets and clean air and planting trees.
We love closing nutrient loops and healing broken cycles.
We really want to live in harmony with the land: we support it, it supports us and everyone and everything thrives.
Cherstin is a visionary. She has a deep soul yearning to live outside the system and is the driver behind a lot of our self-reliance efforts, even if that means that she sometimes feels crazy and overwhelmed.
Burton is a compost nut. He loves exploring nutrient cycles and how to best improve soil biology and health and he's working on building the world's best vermifilter! He's also currently enabling all this with his day job.
Elena loves animals. She has a particular love for poultry and a passionate interest in genetics and flock improvement. She wants to do this heritage farming thing for the rest of her life, which we are grateful for.
Clara is the comic relief. When life gets crazy and feels like it's too much, don't worry, we have Clara. She keeps us grounded with humor and perspective. She also loves researching fruit trees and garden plants that will thrive here.
Grandpa is a builder. Anytime there's something that needs built Grandpa's the one who figures out how to do it. Whether its a building, a finger attachment for the backhoe, or a wooden sword and shield, Grandpa's your man.
Maren is a rock. She brings stability to the whole team. She's also an explorer and a tracker extraordinaire. She is our connection to the native world around our little fold and keeps us in tune with the natural environment.
Aaron is a worker man. He loves being part of whatever project is unfolding and brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm with him. He also wields a mean power drill!
Hannah's a mover. She gets started on a project and just drives and keeps things moving. She also loves rabbits and is the instigator and mastermind behind the development of our rabbitry.
Aunt Christy loves systems. She loves seeing how all the parts and pieces fit together and always wants to be a part of everything. She is also deeply in tune with the hopes, desires, strengths, and weaknesses of those around her and likes to help everyone achieve their dreams.
William is an inventor. He's got a great eye for design and whenever he can't figure out how to build it himself, he enlists the help of others to make it happen. Grandpa knows that when his other work is done, William will have something for him to build!
Grandma is an organizer. She knows tactics and helps everything run smoothly. And she's a solutions genius. We often say to Grandma, "let me put something in your cooker." And it's not idle talk because we know that amazing things will pop out!
Everyone is a cheerleader. While not everyone in our family is directly involved in the daily efforts on Peaceful Valley, they all support and encourage all the work, and we are very grateful. We wouldn't get very far without the support of the people who believe in us!
Christy reads the Omnivore's Dilemma and wants to live more connected to the earth. Cherstin and Burton get married and start trying to be more self-reliant by making and eating brick bread and planting grapes and an apple tree at their townhome.
Cherstin reads the Omnivore's Dilemma and books about healing plants and green cleaning. The idea of building a family farm is born, and we all start looking for land.
We get our first chickens (25 because that is the minimum order). We learn about mean roosters and how to pick the nice ones. Elena falls in love with chickens and turns into a chicken aficionado. We make our first start at The Farm Chronicles, our blog about this adventure.
Cherstin learns about the benefits of raw milk and starts looking for a herd-share raw milk program. She decides it would be cheaper to get a cow. We find and get Hope, a full size Jersey. We learn how to milk, what to do with 7 gallons of milk a day, and begin the grand process of learning how to manage the back end of nutrient cycles (translated: manure and spent hay). We get more chickens who start out their lives in a cardboard box paradise in a townhome.
We build a barn on the Greeley homestead.
Hope dies, which is very sad but comes with tough learnings and lots of growth. We get miniature Jerseys.
We find and buy Peaceful Valley. The Sparks family move up to Greeley ... what is going to be a 6 month layover turns into a 5 year adventure.
We get some free Alpacas.
We get Sheep, Goats and a Rabbit. We start learning about regenerative grazing.
We experience our first lambing and kidding season. We start building the barn/bunkhouse on Peaceful Valley. We graze animals on Peaceful Valley all summer but have to cut bait and retreat to Greeley when the water lines start to freeze. We winter over in Greeley with too many animals ... yeah that was awful.
We get Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs) in preparation for moving everyone to Peaceful Valley. We discover that having working LGDs and close neighbors are incompatible. We restart work on The Farm Chronicles and start a YouTube channel. The Sparks clan makes the permanent move to Peaceful Valley and spends the summer in tents which is very toasty! And then spends the autumn in tents which is very chilly. Brrrrr! There is a lot of learned appreciation for our pioneer ancestors when it snows 8" in September. The Sparks family moves into the bunkhouse with dirt floors and no electricity because it is winter, whether we're ready or not. They enjoy the delights of indoor plumbing, lights, and propane heaters.
We figure out how to manage composting toilets and building thermophilic compost piles at -10 degrees with lots of wind. We experience our first blizzard at Peaceful Valley and learn about snow and wind and drifting and how to position animal shelters. We discover the advantages of building slowly so you can adapt as you go along and things turn out better.
We build a water house on the hill and tap into the high yield well and learn about regenerative grazing in the 3rd year of a crazy La Nina. We start to diversify our goat, rabbit and poultry populations. We learn that winters at Peaceful Valley include lots of snow when you're not in a La Nina so we start learning about snow fences and snow blowers.
We start diversifying the cow population and our mentorship program, The Fold, where we hope to help support and encourage others on their journey to self-reliance and earth stewardship.
We're not going to lie, it's a lot of work, but it's also super fulfilling and you don't have to do it all at once. You can even start and then take a break for awhile. For example, we've done a lot of work with gardens, but right now we're focused on larger scale land management, and we know we'll get back to building gardens when the time is right.
It's about persistence and long range vision, putting the puzzle together one piece at a time. This is really important, because sometimes the finished puzzle is different than the one you started out thinking you were building: same long range vision, different implementation.
We didn't either ... we still don't ... well that's at least how we feel sometimes, which mostly happens when we're thinking too far ahead and rushing the process. The truth is we all know enough to take the next step and that step will set us up for the step after that.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that sometime you'll be "done." Becoming an Earth Steward means you're signing up to be a lifelong observer and learner. You're joining the team of dynamic ever changing systems that adapt to shifts in climate and season. Go with the flow, observe, observe, observe, and learn to love the process and the growth.
You're right, you can't avoid it! Bad stuff will happen: you'll lose animals you love and you'll make mistakes that have painful consequences. But you'll also save animals you love and avoid mistakes you might have made. Throughout it all you'll see the wonder of life in a whole new way and experience a richness and depth you've never known before.
Stop worrying about trying to stop bad things from happening and then blaming yourself when they do. Simply do your best, learn from mistakes, accept things you can't change, build on everything you learn (good and bad) and it will work out perfectly in the end. We promise!!!
That you're here means you're being incredibly courageous, and that you're either already on or that you're getting ready to start your journey to Earth Stewardship...
Build a team of people who believe in you and who can help you through the ups and downs of your journey: to empathize when it's hard, to trouble shoot the problems, to help you push past the plateaus and the valleys and to celebrate the victories!
When you join our mailing list you'll get updates on all the happenings at Peaceful Valley ... everything from our latest thoughts on Earth Stewardship, to updates on available products and animals in the Sale Barn. We're delighted you want to stay connected.
By sharing your contact information you are agreeing to receive communication from us. We are committed to respecting your information and will not share it. You can withdraw your consent to receiving communication from us at any time by unsubscribing.