Proud to Dairy

I have to tell you about one of my projects.  

I've been wanting to tackle this for a decade, it seems. But life tends to get in the way of good intentions, doesn't it? 

My county has a great history. I think most do, but ours is a true wild west legacy. For many years, Lincoln County, Idaho was the end of the rail line, home of the coldest beer in the west and filled with the stories that only a town populated by miners, railroad men and ranchers can tell. I've lived here about 20 years now and I've always been fascinated by this place. Consequently, I've wanted to share those stories. 

As I said, life got in the way. Kids, family and responsibilities make it hard find time for a labor of love. But my children can all feed themselves now and two of the three can drive, so my time is becoming more of my own. It's time for me to start collecting and sharing those stories that have been collecting in Lincoln County dust for far too long.

I decided last spring to start with the stories of the dairy producers, farmers and ranchers who built this area. The original goal was to collect a few stories from area dairy families and share them at an open house at our local historical museum. We had planned to do this during June, Dairy Month. Then, each quarter, we'd focus on a different commodity group.

Let me tell you: This little project got really big right away! Once farm families heard what we were hoping to do, the calls came in with photos and pictures and ideas. While I had wanted to do this on my own, it was clear I would need a team of people to help. So museum volunteers started scanning old newspaper articles for farm news. A friend volunteered to start collecting stories. And we started to work.

Our original plan didn't turn out the way we planned. Due to some technical problems our open house didn't happen in June so we've rescheduled it for November. We'll do a multi-media presentation with a few stories and photos and video. Then, we'll hear from a couple of area dairy producers who will talk about why and how their family settled here. Plus, we've asked local dairy families to bring their favorite dish so we'll serve some great food and ice cold milk.

It's clearly going to be a long-term labor of love, but I've already been greatly blessed with this experience. I found out the process for drying whey and turing it in the protein powder we now see every where started right here in our county. I heard the story of how my neighbor's family came to the United States during the Bolshevik revolution. I met some gracious and amazing people. 

But here's the best thing; I heard from farm families who were just happy to be asked to tell their stories. Sometimes it feels like history is told by the businesses that settled a town, not from the farmers. The people I talked to were happy for the excuse to look through old photos and reminiscence about the parents and grandparents who broke this land out of sagebrush and built a legacy.  

Our goal is to end up with a book of some sort containing stories photos and recipes of our local farm families. We're also trying to catch as much as possible on video or audio recordings so we can preserve the voices in our archives. 

I'll keep you posted and how it goes, but I'd encourage all of you to start telling and collecting the stories on your family farms as well. If you do, let me know -- I'd love to hear more.

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Comment by Betsy Fleury on November 6, 2015 at 7:03am

Great idea, Karma! It sounds like a lot of work, but well worth it! Congratulations on a fantastic project! 

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