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Charlotte Sample Baird
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Birth: Jul. 16, 1906
Death: May 26, 1983

SHEEP CAMPS, CIRCA 1920 by Charlotte Baird

In the old days, women didn't take part in the ranch work, but we did go into the sheep business.

In 1927, my father was going to Arizona to buy some cattle and my husband joined him. He was about 21 at the time, and we hadn't been married awfully long. He intended to buy a few cattle, too; we had some land we had arranged to use. The two of them had been away for a couple of weeks when my father returned, with his cattle. Somehow, the cattle my husband purchased weren't quite ready. He stayed on with a very reputable buyer, a livestock person my father knew well.

Turned out that the cattle Gordon had in mind were not really available at all. So, this livestock man induced him, or somehow made him realize that sheep would be a better buy. Gordon, of course, knew nothing about sheep. (Most of his experience was on a vineyard.)

Before we knew it, we got word that the livestock would arrive at Piedra Station, east of the ranch-the place where most of the cattle and sheep were unloaded. When Gordon told us he had some sheep, we were amazed.

They were quite expensive at the time. Gordon learned fast: he followed a pattern set by other sheep people. He became acquainted with them and everyone seemed to take him in easily, and that was how he learned. In that patter, then, the existence was nomadic. When the feed was consumed at the family ranch, the sheep moved on. They didn't stay very long. I didn't go along because I had babies and had to be at home. There wasn't a place for women.

The next thing was to find small acreages and drift westward; the goal was to reach the Coast Range mountains on the east side of the Coast Range hills. We headed for Salt Creek, which is, I believe, just north of Cantua Creek, up toward Murrieta Rocks. Drifting that was, small acreages were available. Now, everything seems planted, which is why there aren't very many sheep in these parts anymore.

Gordon would just go from one place to another. As soon as he got to one place, he would arrange for the next night's feed; the point was that he'd get places that had water. Water was as important as feed. Eventually, he would graze all the way to the Coast Range's eastern slope, site of a beautiful range.

Early in his career, Gordon was fortunate enough to became involved with a prominent sheep man, Guillermo Yraceburu. Through him, Gordon was able to become very well educated in the ways of the sheep business. Guillermo would make all the arrangements and hire the Basque sheepherders. Combining bands-we had 1500 or so, and he did, too-made one nice large band. Between the two men, we had a thriving sheep business.

We didn't go to the coast hills until spring, because the grass dries up there very early. The hot winds come earlier than here. When they hit you'd better not plan on fattening any lambs because there is no milk or water. As long as the grass is green and mother's milk available, sheep do not need water. They get all the liquid they need from green grass. Anyway, fifty years ago they didn't have wells there.

The Basques came over as immigrants, just for the sheep. They did the herding. You couldn't hire a sheepherder without wine because that was their main thing along with the lamb. They would make their lamb stew and their wonderful bread.

I still have ewes. I couldn't be without my sheep. They are as individual as dogs.

The Fresno Bee, May 27, 1983

Private graveside services will be held for Charlotte S. Baird, 76, of Fresno.

Mrs. Baird died Friday.
A lifelong Fresno resident, she was a farmer and livestock rancher 55 years. Surviving are two daughters, Sally Coffman of Clovis and Claire Baird Zylka of Fresno; a brother, William Cole Sample Jr. of Sanger, and six grandchildren.
The Palm Funeral Service is in charge of arrangements.
Family links: 
  William C Sample (1873 - 1963)
  Gordon K Baird (1906 - 1977)
  Charlotte Sample Baird (1906 - 1983)
  William C. "Jack" Sample (1908 - 1987)*
*Calculated relationship
Academy Cemetery
Fresno County
California, USA
Created by: Lester Letson
Record added: May 30, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 37706959
Charlotte <i>Sample</i> Baird
Added by: Lester Letson
Charlotte <i>Sample</i> Baird
Added by: Lester Letson
Charlotte <i>Sample</i> Baird
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