By Jessica Freeborn
Lynn Taylor, owner of Taylor Ranch Yaks, has become quite a famous rancher in this neck of the woods due primarily to the pet yak he used to ride and haul on a flatbed trailer behind his ATV. Articles have been published about him and his herd of fascinating yaks in the Spokesman Review, local newspapers and Coeur d’Alene Living Magazine. And of course, after enjoying the famous Yak burger from Pilgrims Deli, I was overjoyed with the opportunity to meet Lynn and tour his ranch in Athol, Idaho!
Sydney, her new baby Reed, myself and my son Jared were made to feel at home in Lynn’s wood-stove heated oasis. He showed us his debut in the papers and a hand- woven yak wool scarf and hat made by his friends. He treated us with some colorful stories you might expect from a North Idaho yak rancher. Wild stories aside, what struck me was his unmistakable love and concern for the well-being of his grass-fed animals. He loves nothing more than to see them grazing on the abundant prairie land on his ranch. He never dreamed that he would one day he be a yak rancher after making a career as an engineer and many years of working overseas. But to him, living out here is paradise. And I can see why. It is innately peaceful out here. The views of the valleys and neighboring mountains are picturesque and stunning. The melodious sound of the flowing creek next to his bedroom window lulls Lynn to sleep at night.
When I asked Lynn to give me some facts on yaks, he responded, “I think yaks are great because they tend to be so people-oriented. Even when not tame, they are spirited and fun to be around. They are very interesting, and relatively easy, to raise. Their horns, long hair and flowing tail give them an impressive appearance. I have never regretted my decision made 18 years ago to raise yaks rather than another kind of livestock.” And boy did we get to experience these majestic creatures up close when Lynn took us for a hayride to feed these horned beasts! We were cautioned to not get off the hay wagon because they are known to charge at strangers. But once we started feeding the males who are kept separate from the females, I became more at ease. They were curious and friendly towards us. After we fed the males and chatted a bit more about yaks, Lynn pulled us on his ATV over to the lady yaks. The females are kept in the Creekside field to graze and raise their babies in. I was happy to see that these yaks have so much free range. Yak meat is quite delicious, nutritious and a keto dieter’s dream!
Yak is juicier than buffalo and never gamey like Elk. It is extremely lean and is considered healthier to eat than chicken or fish. It is very juicy thanks to its high content of Omega 3s and Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLAs). Because it is about 95% fat free, yak steaks, filets and burgers, finish faster than other red meat on the grill or pan. In order to keep it juicy and flavorful, yak meat is best cooked to no more than medium rare. Our meat department sells Taylor Ranch frozen ground yak, patties, and filets. Our deli makes a mean yak burger that attracts tourists from all around. The next time you’re in, make sure you try the Spicy Cajun Yak Burger. It has just the right amount of spice and oh so tender!
Today, Taylor Ranch is one of the largest producers of yak meat in Northern Idaho. Pilgrim’s Market is one of his best customers. He mentioned that over the years, he has probably made over 300 deliveries to Pilgrim’s! We proudly carry this delicious local yak meat from a Rancher who truly cares about his animals. Known as Himalayan Beef, yaks are originally from the Himalaya Mountains and neighboring Tibetan countries. Yet these domesticated animals seem to be right at home in the mountainous valleys of North Idaho and their burly coats keep them nice and warm during the winter.
When we asked Lynn if he ever gets tired of working so hard, he responded, “what do you mean, this isn’t work?” Lynn, you are a gem to our community and we thank you for your ethics and honest hard work (even if it seems like play most of the time).