Phyllis Laird, a wool grower of Dubois, Clark County, Idaho, took over the management of the ranch she operated with her husband, Roy E. Laird, after he died. She was a president of the National Wool Growers Auxiliary and once served the balance of her husband's term in the Idaho Legislature.
Watch a video clip of Phyllis Laird.
I was raised in this country when I was a little girl, but I went on to live in Portland. I came back one summer to visit my father, and I met my husband. I went on to college and four years later came back and married him in 1929. Life was wonderful, although I was a city girl, the greenest of green. I taught school in the same room I went to school in when I was six years old. Before teaching in Dubois, I taught in a one-room school at Birch Creek, a three-room school in Medicine Lodge, the first three grades in Jacoby, and then back to Medicine Lodge, where I had all six grades.
We rented a house from my husband's brother-in-law and sister and lived there the first few months. Then we went and lived on the mountain during the summer. It rained a lot. If you want to see people with straggly hair, be on the mountain when it is raining...
We used teams that first summer I was married. I was out in the Pine Butte area. We were lambing on the range in those days [and] the little creeks in the forest didn't have bridges on them. Sometimes it was hard to get your lambs across. My husband was quite a long time getting them across. He wanted me to stop to lead. I was riding on my horse back and forth, and there were a lot of little lodgepole pine in the way. I thought I would just tie up the horse and walk back and forth. It would be a lot easier. When my husband got there, I started to cry and said, "I can't find my horse!" He said not to worry, we would find it. We made a mark and went around until we found it.
We had a disastrous storm [in 1989]. I lost a hundred or more lambs during that storm and forty or fifty ewes. I shouldn't have been lambing then, but the herder that I had [hired] decided that he wanted to. He left two or three buck lambs in with the ewes. They breed a bunch, so I started lambing in January and February, which I don't ordinarily do. I pray a lot, I tell you. It's going to be tough this year. I also lost five cows and thirteen calves. This was the worst loss I've ever seen because of weather. You must remember, my husband was a better operator than I am. I haven't learned much in the twenty-five years that he's been dead...
I didn't sell it when my husband died because it was my living. What else could I do? I always anticipated that I would sell it. At my age I would like to, except that I love the land. You know, you kind of marry yourself to something. I do anyway.
It gets expensive. A couple of times I've almost sold out...but there are lots of advantages. I bring off good lambs... When I was at the Wool Growers meeting in Las Vegas, I met the man who gets the lambs I sell, and he said, "Mrs. Laird, those are dandy lambs. They grow out with feeding them in the winter." I was real pleased with that.
I do own a condo at Sun Valley...I want to be able to go over there and swim. I don't ski, but I love to swim. I like the sociability. There are lectures and theater in Sun Valley. We don't have that here in Dubois.
One of my girls has taken an interest in the ranch, but the boys, grandsons, don't see the profit in it. Maybe they will some day. If I had my husband, I would do it all over again. We were happy. I have always known that I am not rich in money--but rich in family and friends, which counts the most.
Andrus | Baker | Hayashida | Hill | Laird | Nelson | Oliver
Simplot | Slickpoo | Sorrels | Trice | Zabala