This Valhalla Project blog provides updates on the 200-acre pilot property in the Ozark mountains with information on our homesteading programs for post-9/11 military veterans. Valhalla has established a very special retreat and reintegration facility for post-911 combat veterans and war zone civilian workers transitioning back into the civilian world; see our "Valhalla Vision" page for an overview.

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for more detailed information about the Valhalla Project
and how to apply.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Candidates wanted for Valhalla's Second Annual Homesteading Marathon


OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME 
FOR INTERESTED POST-9/11 COMBAT VETERANS

Travel Back in Time While Testing Your Prepping Skills
-- The Valhalla Project's Second Annual Homesteading Marathon --

The Valhalla Project, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, is looking for post-9/11 combat veterans who want to test their emergency preparedness skills by participating in our second annual Homesteading Marathon from December 20th through January 20th (Christmas and New Year’s included). Do you have what it takes to survive -- and thrive -- for 32 days behind locked gates on a 200 acre property, without outside assistance or resupply, days without electricity, while mastering traditional skills that may become your lifeline in the event of a serious long term emergency?

We’re looking for three veterans to test themselves during the height of winter here in the Ozark mountains by chopping firewood to stay warm, properly caring for small flocks of life-giving farm animals (goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, and turkeys), dealing with predators that are constantly trying to get into the farmyard (coyotes, wildcats, wild hogs, raccoons, snakes, hawks, and many others are prolific here), living for days without electricity or running water, tending plants in a small greenhouse, hunting and butchering deer or wild hogs, preparing all meals from scratch (including grinding wheat into flour for bread and making fermented ketchup for your fries), and basically traveling 100 years backwards in time to meet many of the same challenges that most people would be utterly unprepared for.

Survival and preparedness are hot topics these days – with good reason. Of course it’s easy to talk about bug out bags and fantasies crawling around in the woods while trying to survive after a major emergency… but quite another to live for even a single month in a truly rural property with zero outside assistance or spending a single penny on anything at all.

Valhalla has been set up specifically for combat veterans who may not have supportive families of their own to rely on during times of need, so Marathon Candidates must understand that their children, spouses, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and pets are not included in this special invitation. The Homesteading Marathon will be carried out by Valhalla’s founders and three enthusiastic combat veterans alone for the entire 32 day period.


The Homesteading Marathon has three very important objectives: (1) Reach out to post-9/11 combat vets who may not be aware of our many homesteading programs and our other veteran support endeavors that are conducted throughout the year; (2) Test Valhalla’s infrastructure, animals, supplies and overall operations to ensure that all critical systems are adequate no matter what the weather in winter (this region lost all electrical power for up to a month following massive ice storms in January 2009, so we want to be ready for a repeat on those conditions or worse);  and (3) Raise funds to help cover Valhalla's operating costs and program expenses in 2016.

What Will Happen During the Marathon? What Kind of "Traditional Skills"?

Valhalla's Homesteading Marathon Featured Activities shown on the calendar below will focus on five winter survival themes: food, water, sanitation, heat, and recreation. Note that the actual dates of the various activities may depend on weather conditions -- for example, indoor activities such as fermentation will take place during any snow or ice storms, while outdoor activities may be rescheduled to take advantage of sunny or warmer days). No Power Mondays -- when all power to the property is shut off for 24 hours every Monday -- are shown in bold, and the Featured Activities on those days will subsequently be carried out without running water or electrical tools of any kind.

Basic carpentry, farming, gardening, food preservation, cooking, and other experience would be helpful but are not necessary; any successful post-9/11 combat veteran applicants who ultimately participate in the Homesteading Marathon will receive both instruction and assistance in mastering these essential skills.

Click to enlarge this calendar of Featured Activities:




In addition to the Marathon's Featured Activities, each participant will also help run all aspects of Valhalla while gaining valuable experience and new skills in the process. We will be turning back the clock roughly 100 years for morning and evening chores to take care of the animals, laundry, cleaning, and most cooking and simulate what life may be like for weeks or even months following a serious emergency. A target routine during this Homesteading Marathon will be based on this simple schedule:

7:00 - 8:30 Feed the working dogs; coffee or tea; breakfast; wash dishes and tidy the kitchen

8:30 - 9:00 Daily briefing, planning, meal prep/chef assignments, and Q&A

9:00 - 10:00 Morning chores: clean and fill all animal waterers (carry warm water when needed); inspect, feed and hay the goats and sheep; let the sheep or goats out on alternating days; inspect, feed, and release the poultry flocks; tend to the rabbits; check all animal housing for problems or required repairs

10:00 - 1:00 Start the day's featured activity (meal prep/chef excused at 11:30 for the kitchen)

1:00 - 2:00 Lunch

2:00 - 3:00 Finish/clean up after the day’s featured activity

3:00 - 4:30 Personal time: rest, read, nap, do laundry, or optional follow up on various featured activity projects

4:30 - 5:30 Evening chores: exact reverse of morning chores with minor adjustments

5:30 - 6:30 Meal prep and cooking; start bunkhouse and/or fireplace fires early on especially cold days

6:30 - 7:30 Dinner; informal daily debriefing

7:30 - 9:30 Outdoor bonfires, telling war stories or just plain lies in front of the fireplace, subject-specific research using Valhalla's extensive libraries, and/or time with personal phones / internet (note: two hours of cell phone and internet service will be allowed six evenings a week because the Marathon is, in part, an attempt to reach out to veterans and also publicize Valhalla's various programs; participants may also need to follow up with employment or personal business and this will be the time to do it). 

9:30 on: Personal phones / internet are turned off and secured until the next night (except before and on No Power Mondays). Dining and living rooms remain open while restricting all other areas of the house to quiet time with respect for those who want to sleep or read in peace.

The term "target routine" is used here in place of "typical day" because there really aren't any typical days at Valhalla -- or any other homestead. Farm animals spend a lot of their time trying to figure out new creative ways to accidentally kill themselves and occasionally need intensive first aid; predators are never predictable and are constantly trying to trick or sneak past the livestock guardian dogs; the guardian dogs can sometimes be destructive and require immediate corrective action; snow and ice storms hit without warning and cause a lot of unexpected problems; grommets fail, bungies snap, tires go flat, and essential tools suddenly need repairs; somebody will almost always burn dinner, use salt instead of sugar while baking a cake, or have their glasses stolen by a curious turkey who then runs away into the woods with them (yes, this has happened). In short, there is no end to the unexpected even on the very best of days -- so flexibility, paired with sharp eyes and situational awareness, is alway required.

WHO CAN APPLY

Post-9/11 combat veterans with a valid DD214 and honorable discharge from any US military branch who are willing to appear in short veterans outreach and support videos during the holiday season, as well as video shorts focusing on preparedness and their hands-on experiences during the Valhalla Project's Second Annual Homesteading Marathon. Accommodations and meals will be provided along with firewood, building materials and use of necessary equipment, laundry essentials, and of course fellowship. Additional information and details will also be sent during the application process. Applicants will be solely responsible for their transportation to and from the Valhalla Project property outside Yellville, Arkansas.

HOW TO APPLY

Interested post-9/11 combat veterans are invited to send an introductory email to valhalla.mailbox@gmail.com outlining your military service history, describing exactly why you would like to participate in the Valhalla Project's Homesteading Marathon, what special skills or preparedness experience you have (not required but always valued), and spelling out what you hope to gain from this truly unique opportunity. Following a formal review of your written introduction you will either receive information about continuing the application process or an explanation of why you may be better suited to one of Valhalla's other programs later on in 2016.


* * *
The Valhalla Project needs your help and support
We need YOUR help to keep Valhalla functioning efficiently - while at the same time expanding vitally important programs to assist post-9/11 combat Soldiers and war zone civilian workers to transition back into the civilian world. 


The Valhalla Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity recognized by the IRS.
Nobody, including cadre or board members, draws a paycheck here, nor will they ever: we simply give everything we have to make Valhalla possible. 100% of your donation via Paypal will go directly to program expenses, period. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Take Action for the Valhalla Project’s New Roof!


Want to express tangible thanks to combat veterans for their service? You can do just that by assisting the Valhalla Project in repaying the cost of the brand new insulated metal roof.

The job started with ripping out old skylights and replacing the old
rotting plywood with sheets of heavy OSB above the Park Lounge. It
was an understandably messy phase of the project.
The roof of the Valhalla Project's Main House, which can house up to eight veteran participants at a time, began failing this summer in the most dramatic way. The original shingles -- installed more than 30 years ago! -- had degraded to the point of crumbling. The plywood underneath became soaked in some places and began to rot.

Valhallans froze in the winter and baked inside during the summer due to the complete lack of any insulation whatsoever on the towering alpine rooftop above the living room and sleeping loft.
The first insulation panels being installed over
the towering alpine portion of the roof above
the living room and sleeping loft.
Worst of all, Valhalla simply did not have adequate funds to pay for a new roof this year. But with winter fast encroaching, we were pressed for time so we had to float a quick $18,000 loan to make sure that the roof was up before the storms hit. We literally had no other choice.

After nearly three weeks of hard labor by roofing professionals armed with a mountain of replacement plywood (OSB), sheet insulation, lumber, and endless stacks of metal panels, the new roof was completed last week... just in time for Veteran's Day. And now we must raise the funds to repay the emergency loan before the end of the year.

The first metal roofing panel being installed over the insulation.
Unlike many fundraisers that say contributions will go to some future project, the 5,630 square foot Valhalla Main House roof is now a tangible reality.

The final bill for materials, hardware, heavy equipment rental costs, and labor came to exactly $17,337.14.  We watched every penny very carefully, and collected all receipts as the project progressed. Not a nickel was wasted during the course of this huge undertaking.
A cherry picker -style basket had to be rented to provide
access to the various roof extensions around the house.

Ice dams and commercial-grade gutters should be purchased and professionally installed before the first snow flies, yet paying off the existing loan for the completed roof remains Valhalla's #1 top priority.

Those of you who contribute to paying off the roof will have the satisfaction of knowing that the work is already done, no money was wasted on non-essentials or hidden luxuries, and that the veterans who stay at the Valhalla Project property will be comfortable and dry for generations to come. 
The east and west wings of Valhalla's Main House have attics
and therefore didn't need exterior insulation, thus saving a lot of money.
Pinching pennies is not the same thing as cutting corners: the roofing
job was done correctly yet without any unnecessary extras. 

The ultimate proof of success came to us on Sunday morning, when the outside thermometer recorded the season's freeze at precisely 32F -- yet the living room remained at 63F even though we had left the central heating system off all night!

Note that last winter Valhalla's electric bills averaged at over $400 per month despite keeping the thermostat set to only 50F and wearing parkas inside. Those days are over now because of this successful roofing project, and Valhalla's utility bills will be much lower.

So here to have the opportunity to help veterans directly and know full well that any and all contributions will go immediately into a Pay Off the Roof fund designed to improve quality of life for all veteran participants at Valhalla! Thank you for your assistance and supports – without it we will be unable to continue our work. Press the Donate button to make a difference today!


The Valhalla Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity recognized by the IRS.
Nobody, including cadre or board members, draws a paycheck here, nor will they ever. We all simply give everything we have to make Valhalla possible. 100% of your donation via Paypal will go directly to program expenses and providing a very special reintegration homestead for combat veterans, period.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A few highlights from Valhalla's Summer 2015

It's been a very busy summer at the Valhalla Project, with our days filled with gardening, tending the animals, and working on countless "Homesteading 101" projects. Time available for blogging and posting up pictures is very limited -- since every minute in front of a computer screen means a minute lost for far more exciting and productive endeavours.

Many Valhallans value their privacy. The veteran wearing the eagle's mask
decided to build a special locker for the backup generator using mostly
salvaged materials. Located by the main electrical box to allow quick
access during any power outages, the little weatherproof locker
looks more like a doghouse than anything else and therefore blends
right in outside the chicken house next to it. Thank you again
Gene Hanratty for donating the generator -- it's still in mint
condition after more than two years, and one of the Valhalla
Project's most prized emergency backup assets.
Valhalla Project participants sometimes choose to work on special projects that they dream up themselves. While help and assistance is always available, some individuals simply love the sheer peace and tranquility that goes with taking on solo challenges.

For example, one particularly camera-shy combat veteran saw that Valhalla's backup generator would be more useful if it was stored next to the main electrical box instead of in the car port. He spent a few days building a simple yet very practical weatherproof house for it using mostly salvaged materials.

Loki helping to celebrate the completion of Loren's Dragon Moat,
which will help keep the turkeys, chickens, and duck down at Hospital
Row dry this winter. He managed to dig deep enough so that water is
forced to defy the normal laws of gravity and flow uphill. Also
notice the big stump at the left of the trench -- Loren claimed
that he enjoyed the physical challenge of hacking away at the roots
with an ax. Sure, Special Forces guys can be a little "different"
all right... although the birds living in the apartments behind
him certainly were impressed and thankful. Great job, Loren.
Likewise, former Special Forces Sergeant First Class Loren from Colorado spent the better part of two weeks digging like a crazed gopher down at Valhalla's Hospital Row after he saw the drainage problems that occasionally flooded parts of the poultry housing units there.

Loren loved going out in the Viking for target practice sessions, playing with the dogs out in the woods, learning some new cooking skills around the kitchen, and just chatting hour after hour at the dining room table... but most of all he loved working on his Dragon Moat. Digging in the rocky ground here in the Ozarks is almost like trying to scrape a hole into solid concrete with a spoon... but there he'd be with a miner's pick swinging away. During one downpour he ran out after borrowing my floppy rain hat to check if the water would drain uphill as he'd so carefully designed his Moat. And it did! Then came the 2am trek out into the forests on a moonless night with Loki at his side to collect and drag 50 pounds of small rocks back to the moat in his rucksack...

As seen through the eyes of new Valhallans: compiled snapshots
that various Ft. Leonard Wood lieutenants took during their
time here this August. 
Of course many other Valhalla Project participants prefer to learn about homesteading in groups, and along these lines this summer we've had the pleasure of hosting some of the Second Lieutenants from Fort Leonard Wood.

These young officers are currently in a very intensive Military Police training program and only beginning their new careers, yet still wanted to come learn more about the issues facing veterans who are retiring back into the civilian world. Some day they too will be veterans, and there is also great value of building their awareness of Valhalla's programs so they can pass the word to other Soldiers over the course of their careers.

Second Lieutenant Dominique guiding the sheep home.
This may look a little odd but the best way to herd
sheep is to simply walk behind them with your arms
out -- never chase them, just walk with purpose
and 99% of the time they will trot to wherever
you need them to go.
Two separate groups of new Lieutenants were completely immersed in hands-on homesteading essentials ranging from milking Roxanne the goat, harvesting potatoes and a bumper-crop of hot peppers, finding and collecting eggs, repairing gates and animal housing units (plus sometimes using power tools for the first time ever), herding sheep, and what it means to get seriously attacked by ticks and chiggers.

The Valhalla Project's budding "Nutrition Through Culinary Arts" program also continued to evolve this summer after we ran out of venison and wild hog a couple of months ago. Wild meats from animals that eat dozens of varieties of herbs, weeds, roots, and wild plants instead of commercially produced grain provide superior nutrition -- yet supplies here on the property are naturally limited, therefore we had to turn to other sources (at least until next hunting season coming this October).
Second Lieutenant Jeff performing "Mise en Place"
for the stir-fried ginger-basil chicken with tinkerbell
peppers and coconut rice that he later made alongside
his buddy Dominique.  Lt. Luke was working at the
other end of the kitchen with Valhalla President
Gordon to make seared salmon and panzanella
with corn, shishito peppers, and Thai basil. 

The gardens provide plenty of vegetables and herbs while the chickens, turkeys, and ducks keep cranking out omega-3 rich eggs. We could have slaughtered some of Valhalla's own poultry and older lambs but instead opted to take advantage of the wonderful bacon, beef, pork chops, and other top-quality meats from the Twin Lakes Meat Packing Company in Gassville (about 25 minutes away). We've also started subscribing to Blue Apron, a service that sends a big box of quality ingredients along with cooking instructions each week. This allows Valhalla to access many ingredients that simply are not available in the Ozarks, for a very reasonable price.

Note that all Valhallans not only learn at least some of basics about the critically important roles of essential amino acids, magnesium and calcium, Vitamin K2, healthful cholesterols and fats, plus naturally occurring probiotics for the daily diet but also how to prepare gourmet-quality meals from scratch that embrace all of the above.

The Valhalla Project's living room with the newly built library
shelves, which contain hundreds of specially selected books on
cooking,  nutrition, food science and history, recipes from all the
different nations and cultures around the world that we could think
of, the uses of herbs and spices in not just recipes but also for the
prevention and treatment of various illnesses and diseases --
as well as hundreds of other books dedicated to homesteading
topics such as farm animal care and housing, off-grid
construction, permaculture, gardening, bare-essential-to
advanced carpentry, soil and water conservation, wildlife
enhancement and management, and there's even a manual
on what to do if you're somehow bored after thoroughly
studying everything as described above (impossible to be
bored after all of that really, although we had to put The Sacred
Book of Poker Variations/Rules/Regulations somewhere).
Along these same lines, Valhalla's living room floor-to-ceiling bookshelves were finally completed in July -- and it was then discovered that the cooking and nutrition books alone took up a full half of all the shelving! It has taken four years to research and purchase a significant library that can answer just about any food craving.

As an example of such a special library, ask yourself: are you craving chocolate right now? The confectionary books provide hundreds of recipes for homemade candies, fudge, bon-bons, and much more -- while at the same time the nutrition books go on to explain that chocolate cravings are often caused by magnesium deficiencies.

Valhalla's approach to teaching about both the equally relevant chocolate craving *plus* nutrition lessons at the same time is perhaps unique.

Cheese buns are not a sin: they are packed
with essential amino acids, omega-3 and
Vitamin K2-rich eggs, and other life
sustaining nutrients provided here at the
Valhalla Project property by free ranging
farm animals. These buns are absolutely
delicious with stews, soups, and chilis. This
specific batch of cheese buns was successfully
baked by retired Special Forces Sergeant
First Class Loren -- who had helped install
a desperately needed brand new oven into
Valhalla's kitchen only two days before.
 
First, when a chocolate craving is duly announced by a suffering participant, all interested Valhallans will then spend some time making chocolate candy from scratch with pure, traditional, unprocessed ingredients (high fructose corn syrup and other bulk filler ingredients are never allowed here at Valhalla). Afterwards, while everyone who participated is still licking their fingers in sheer ecstasy, comes the more serious discussion of why magnesium deficiencies cause chocolate cravings, why eating even the most delicious pure chocolate goodies will never make those cravings go away, what magnesium really is and what it does for a healthy body, and finally how to incorporate more magnesium into delicious main meals so only a tiny chocolate treat will be "...needed..." the next time.

In short (and continuing on with the magnesium-oriented example), it's far better to first fill up on a rich and satisfying dinner of Valhalla's chili made with grass-fed beef stewed in wild venison broth and sprouted magnesium-rich black beans that are spiked with raw cocoa, pure raw molasses, various herbs plus tomatoes and hot peppers harvested from the garden, in addition to organic spices (of course including cumin, coriander and fennel seeds) over rice. Veterans and other Valhalla participants who *still* have room for their already-satisfied cravings are still welcome to indulge in desserts -- summer usually brings plenty of peach crisps with crunchy almond toppings or from-scratch apple pies -- and only after that, eat all the homemade chocolate treats that you want. That said, it's been our repeated experience here on the Valhalla Project property that cravings for sweets (or, GASP! Junk food!!) is almost always resolved by simply enjoying pure, satisfying, rich traditional foods that are jam-packed with not just nutrition but also the tastes that we all instinctively crave.

Melonie the turkey hen with her poults. Most chicks and poults are
raised in the living room brooder to protect them, yet Melonie
was doing such an exceptional job in keeping track of them that
we let her stay with them in the heavily fortified Turkey Chalet.

Another neat story from this summer came from Melonie, one of the turkey hens, who managed to hatch nine poults right in the middle of the vegetable gardens. She was so obsessively attached to them that we didn't have the heart to take them to the safety of the living room brooder. Sure enough, three tiny poults eventually lost their lives despite every attempt to keep them safe.

However, we did get to observe a semi-wild free-ranging turkey raise her young with minimal human intervention. It turns out that poults spend a great deal of time riding on their mother's back and shoulders. Then one day we noticed Melonie bleeding from a terrible wound on her side. Perhaps a weasel managed to sneak past the dogs and somehow wiggle into the Chalet. The six remaining poults didn't have a scratch on them so it was clear that Melonie purposely took the hit while protecting them. We treated the 5" gash under her wing several times a day for about a week (it continued bleeding on and off for the first two days) and the wound finally closed without any infections. It was a close call, and today she is currently escorting her now teenie-bopper offspring around the edge of the forest as I write this. A happy ending!

*  *  *

Subtle: instead of 6' lifesized statue
that costs tens of thousands of dollars
we were very happy to add this 2'
high concrete figurine into Valhalla's
Welcome Island flower garden
this summer instead. 
Please remember that as a relatively small nonprofit organization, there are simply a very limited number of hours available for describing what typically goes on at the Valhalla Project's 200 acre homesteading retreat for transitioning veterans.

Why is that? Because every day our operations require all available hands on deck to focus on the animals and tasks right in front of them. Put down those smart phones, quit taking pictures, and actively live 100% in the real world (rather than on Facebook or in cyberspace) for at least a while has become a key part of the Valhalla Project's core programs. 

The mark of a small yet very busy nonprofit often translates into a limited number of blog entries, website updates, and other internet-visible signs of life... due to the fact that there aren't any paid public relations professionals, social media coordinators, or advertising experts on staff. 

Obviously this puts smaller outfits like the Valhalla Project at a severe disadvantage with fundraising and outreach efforts. On the other hand, where would you like your dollars to go? Into actual activities and programs for the benefit of America's veterans, or to administrative/publicity/fundraising/staffing costs? We strongly believe that every penny of your donations should go directly to supporting the programs here, so we need your help to spread the word about Valhalla.

If you know a post-9/11 combat veteran who's having a tough time adjusting after leaving the military, please tell him (or her) about our programs. We offer qualified veterans and war zone civilian workers beautiful wild spaces, peer support, and the opportunity to actively participate in the creation of a truly unique facility while they at the same time regroup and prepare for their new lives as civilians.

Some of this year's flowers inside Valhalla's Welcome Island garden.


* * *
The Valhalla Project needs your help and support!!!
We need YOUR help to keep Valhalla functioning efficiently - while at the same time expanding vitally important programs to assist post-9/11 combat veterans and war zone civilian workers to transition back into the civilian world. 


The Valhalla Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity recognized by the IRS.
Nobody, including cadre or board members, draws a paycheck here, nor will they ever: we simply give everything we have to make Valhalla possible. 100% of your donation via Paypal will go directly to program expenses, period. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Remembering Tank: A Very Special Wall Oven with Massive Cooling & Storage Racks

In memory of Gordon "Tank" Calder of the
Warlords Motorcycle Club, who helped
raise the money for Valhalla's new wall oven
before his very tragic accidental

death on June 10th.
Valhalla's tiny 1970s-era wall oven finally stopped working last March and everyone therefore had to live without any baking for a period of many months (no cakes or cookies, no muffins or casseroles, with a lot of sad faces). It was a terrible oven anyway, and entirely too small for serving larger groups of veterans. 

Yet replacing that outdated appliance wasn't a simple matter at all. A new oven big enough to serve our needs would require ripping out a large hole through an unwired wall, building a recessed cabinet, installing the necessary electrical connections, and then reorganizing the entire kitchen around a more practical storage system. The sad fact was Valhalla Project's 2015 budget did not include money for purchasing and installing a suitable large-capacity replacement oven. 

But we did have a $250 Home Depot gift card that the Lake Forest Men’s Golf Association of Daphne, Alabama donated last December. Then the Warlords Motorcycle Club raised $1,000. Marjie and Jim R. in Round Rock, Texas sent another $1,000. Much smaller donations trickled in (every nickel, dime, and single dollar always counts) and added up to finally make the entire project possible, and here is the resulting wall oven with cooling and storage racks:


Behind the scenes

Tearing a big hole in the wall was fun! Housing for
the new oven was then built within the bunkhouse
closet on the other side.
There was only one place in the kitchen where the new 30" oven could fit: a section of wall
that had the bunkhouse closet on the other side.

The oven cabinet extended into the closet, although several Valhallans agreed that they'd rather have cookies than storage space anyway.

Loren (on the right) became the first Valhallan to 
use the new oven by baking Swiss Cheese Buns for 
dinner. At first we didn't tell him that he was in fact 
mastering a classic French recipe... since "Cheese 
Buns" sounds a lot less intimidating than
"Julia Child's Gougères."
Army SFC (retired) Loren helped with
installing Valhalla's brand new 30" GE Profile Self-Cleaning with Steam Plus Convection Oven, and became the first person to use it. He learned to bake Swiss Cheese Buns (aka Julia Child's classic French Gougères) from scratch. His English Yorkshire pudding was also very tasty.

Recall that every Valhalla participant is required to learn new cooking skills while they are here, and although some are already accomplished cooks or grillmasters, most are intimidated by... baking!

The mere idea of singlehandedly developing a

Friday, July 17, 2015

Valhalla's vegetable garden renovation, Summer 2015

The Valhalla Project's main vegetable garden has 16 raised beds
measuring 8' x 4' each. This year's crops include peas, tomatoes,
squash, asparagus, onions, shallots, bell peppers, sweet potatoes,
baking potatoes, okra, many different varieties of chili peppers,
and just about every herb known to mankind.
Many veterans who come to the Valhalla Project are eager to learn about growing their own food. Since this is an integral component in our program of self-sufficiency we’ve spent the last several years working on a model raised bed garden that allows vets to grow vegetables and herbs and discover how rewarding the deliciously edible fruits of their efforts can be.

Our major innovation this year was the addition of cattle-panel arches over the tops of our raised beds! Never seen it before, and it was the brainchild of Valhalla founder, Chris, who suggested that it would be an effective way to prevent the chickens and turkeys from tearing up the beds as well as allowing the sheep to graze throughout the garden and keep them out of the plantings. Sure cuts down on the need to mow the pathways, and Valhalla's chief mowers -- the sheep -- just love it.

Check out the asparagus supported by the new cattle panel arch -- they're standing as straight as
soldiers in formation! Also notice the removeable doors that lock out the sheep, chickens, turkeys, and 

ducks. The doors are easily removed for harvesting vegetables and weeding, although mulch 
keeps almost all the weeds out.

The concept worked better than originally envisioned. The arches not only kept the unwanted critters out but also – as a big unexpected surprise – provided structural support for the taller plants. The best

Friday, May 15, 2015

Three month old Loki arrives!

3 month old Loki, a Great Pyreneese / Akbash puppy, has joined Valkyrie and Sadie as a future guardian of the Valhalla Project's 200 acre homesteading retreat for post-9/11 combat veterans. Very special thanks to Lindy and Lee Benitz for bringing Loki to Valhalla!





* * *
The Valhalla Project needs your help and support
We need YOUR help to keep Valhalla functioning efficiently - while at the same time expanding vitally important programs to assist post-9/11 combat veterans and war zone civilian workers to transition back into the civilian world. 


The Valhalla Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity recognized by the IRS.
Nobody, including cadre or board members, draws a paycheck here, nor will they ever: we simply give everything we have to make Valhalla possible. 100% of your donation via Paypal will go directly to program expenses, period. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Day 9: Valhalla's own RECONNECT 3 CHALLENGE. If you are a combat veteran then you hold the keys to reaching out and reconnecting with battle buddies who you haven't heard from in a long, long time. Civilians can't do this. The VA can't do this, nor can any other government agencies or nonprofit organizations. Only *YOU* can do this for yourself and for some of friends who you've lost contact with... and you'll undoubtedly have a lot of fun while also generating a great deal of joy in the process. Meet our challenge before New Year's Eve, and you'll be glad that you did:



* * *
The Valhalla Project needs your help and support
We need YOUR help to keep Valhalla functioning efficiently - while at the same time expanding vitally important programs to assist post-9/11 combat Soldiers and war zone civilian workers to transition back into the civilian world. 


The Valhalla Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity recognized by the IRS.
Nobody, including cadre or board members, draws a paycheck here, nor will they ever: we simply give everything we have to make Valhalla possible. 100% of your donation via Paypal will go directly to program expenses, period. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

It's Day EIGHT! We're still locked inside the gates without shopping, outside contact, or internet access aside from the two hours required for uploading these
video updates... plus checking email for any messages associated with
this very special and unique Valhalla Project outreach event. The bunkhouse needed a little work and we also describe some of the chow that is eaten here on a regular basis, check it out: 


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The Valhalla Project needs your help and support
We need YOUR help to keep Valhalla functioning efficiently - while at the same time expanding vitally important programs to assist post-9/11 combat Soldiers and war zone civilian workers to transition back into the civilian world. 


The Valhalla Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity recognized by the IRS.
Nobody, including cadre or board members, draws a paycheck here, nor will they ever: we simply give everything we have to make Valhalla possible. 100% of your donation via Paypal will go directly to program expenses, period.