By Barb Hauge
My best friend is my sister-in-law, Sara Baird. We are a close, extended family and over the years weve shared all the joys and the sorrows. Sara and I also share many interests including reading, writing and searching for our roots. Sara teaches, paints, sculpts and sews beautifully. Her Centennial Quilt has won many prizes.
In the early years we celebrated Christmas at our farm home here on the Big Flat where we enjoyed wall-to-wall kids and everyone stayed a week. One year ice on the wires caused intermitted power outage and every time power came on wed wash at least one load of diapers and do the dishes. Wed do puzzles, play pinochle and all the kids games; go sledding, skiing and ice skating. Everyone brought food and it was a time of family fun which ended with New Years Dance in Canada. After they built their spacious log home on the Baird Ranch (which our sons named Fort Apache) our Christmas celebrations moved to The Ranch. It has been the scene of anniversaries and weddings, 4th of July celebrations and family reunions; of cattle roundups and branding and fall hunting. For all of my life The Ranch has been my refuge where I could return to be with nature and think things through. Yes, we all go to the hills when our hearts are lonely. Thats why Americas Parks are such national treasures.
Sara and I were often surrogate mothers to one anothers children and our sons worked on The Ranch to earn money for college. The work ethic is firmly ingrained in farm and ranch families. We wouldnt survive without it. My brother, Wes, has been a workaholic all his life, barely taking time out to eat and sleep. The family joke is; its a miracle they have six children.
Sara and I have done a lot of research into family genealogy. She has a computer and we pursue old records, write letters and make phone calls. We located the separate diaries of Frank Baird and Frances Taylor written in Wisconsin in 1880, before they were betrothed. My very religious and straight-laced Grandmother began her diary on her 21st birthday and said her uncle was going to help her in the matrimonial market. At her age she felt obliged to marry soon. Grandma was active in the Womens Christian Temperance Union via her church and her largest yearly expenditure, of which she kept careful accounting, was $10.50 to her church. On one shopping spree, Grandma blew $1.14, giving 25 cents to her little brother and buying yarn, stamps, crochet needles and 10 cents for black beads. Perhaps that frivolous item helped to ensnare Grandpa.
Grandma was right about the terrible toll Demon Rum took in the lives of those whose breadwinners were drunkards. With the best intentions, good ladies of the W.C.T.U. brought about Prohibition and made procurement of booze a national pastime; much like illegal drugs are today.
Grandpa Bairds diary of 1880 is brief and to the point. Killed a beef. Drew hay and corn fodder. Slippery, got Fan shod. Sawed some wood. Drove the cutter. Drew 2 loads of school wood. Helped French 1/2 day. Killed a wildcat. Grandpa wrote poetry and the entry I like best is, This holy day I went my way some place; I shant tell where. A purpose too I had in view. Twas this; well you dont care. Could he have been courting Grandma?
To our Anniversary Party last year Sara brought baked ham and wheat salad. On our card she wrote, Many blessings on your Golden Day. With much love and thanks for years of special memories.