The United Dairymen of Idaho and Idaho Tourism thoughtfully brought me to Idaho to show me the full scale and scope of parts of Idaho I had never seen before, and I am thankful. All opinions are my own.
I came back from Idaho a couple of weeks ago, trying to figure out how I was going to put into words everything that I learned down into one post. Then the little man from the Princess Bride popped into my head – IMPOSSIBLE!! I didn’t want to rattle off facts about the 189 varieties of crops grown in Idaho, or that yes, they are the largest potato potato producer with 75 different varieties of spuds, and they also raise the largest number of trout in the world and dairy suppliers in the west. It’s interesting, no doubt, but it doesn’t adequately engage or encompass the depth and breadth of everything that Idaho is, or more so what it means to me. Or what I hope I can convey to you.
My ties to Idaho goes far beyond this trip, luckily for me. Having spent time in Idaho throughout college during my days as lumberjack, and on my friend’s ranch outside of Boise. Idaho has a special place in my heart, much like the Palouse and the farm.
What strikes me most of all about Idaho, much like what has taken me about home on the Palouse, is the people and their passion, and commitment to what they do. Every moment of every day goes into their land, their animals, and what they produce is an all consuming part of who they are. The two never shall be divided.
Like getting to meet the family members behind a fifth generation dairy operation, whose family immigrated from Switzerland, to become one of the leading producers and innovators in the state. And to have one of their brand new (and still gooey) calf fall asleep in your hands, is a transformative experience. In that moment, you can see a fraction of the care and compassion that goes into their work.
It kicks you right in the feels.
Innovators are trail blazers are all over Idaho, like a Ste. Chappelle Winery, where their head winemaker, the first woman at the vineyard, worked her way through from the bottom of the organization all the way to the top, learning every aspect of the process along the way. The Idaho terroir is such an unappreciated arena for winemaking, and having tasted so many different wines that weekend – I can attest to the tenacity of the winemakers and craft in each bottle.
When you drive through all of the hills, valleys, deserts, and mountains of Idaho, you appreciate all the more everything the people of Idaho do, cultivating the land, and producing truly magnificent things. The land is carved and etched with eons of glaciers and volcanic loam, set off with whisping grasses and sagebrush galore. It’s peaceful, and harsh. A dichotomy that is alluring and frightening, and captivating most of all to those who just give it the respect it is due.
We ambled through orchards and met with growers of crisp new crop apples, picking a couple for ourselves naturally, and chatted with the pickers along the way. One of the women I met, had been working amongst these trees for 15 years, marrying into the family, and growing her own roots deeper into the land itself.
And we tasted all we could – from the apples, to the wine, and beer. Everything crafted with care. I’m still trying to find one of these wine vending machines for my apartment… I mean, my 30th birthday is this weekend. *Hint, Ben!!*
For all the times that I get to spend in Idaho, the panhandle, or down in Boise or Sun Valley, each part has a distinct feel and aire about it. They are all different and captivating in their own way, and the people that call each area home, and provide us with amazing grown creations are to be thanked and held high for what they do.
It’s most definitely a home away from home.
Cheers to that.