Archives for the month of: March, 2014

After a long hiatus, here is a special treat: a whole slew of diary entries from our Mystery Writer!


Mon. May 8. 

Got up more tired than we went to bed baby was so fussy all nite.  Snowed all morning so Jay did no go to the field but seeded in p.m.  Geo floated all day.  Dad went up to the head gate & shut down some of the surplus water.  Bert and Wilbur Vaughn were here for hay and dinner.  I did babys washing in afternoon.  Mama fixed window shades in a.m. 

(Blogger’s NOTE: What the heck is “floating?”  Our diarist mentions it a lot in her spring entries.  I found this entry from Herbert A. Shearer, “Farm Mechanics: Machinery and its Use to Save Hand Labor on the Farm.” 1918, Pp 155-6.  “Clod Crusher.  The farm land drag, float, or clod crusher is useful under certain conditions on low spots that do not drain properly.  Such land must be plowed when the main portion of the field is in proper condition, and the result is often that the low spots are so wet that the ground packs into lumps that an ordinary harrow will not break into pieces.  Such lumps roll out between the harrow teeth and remain on top of the ground to interfere with culivation.  The clod crusher then rides over the lumps and grinds them into powder.  Unfortunately, clod crushers often are depended on to remedy faulty work on ordinary land that should receive better treatment.  Many times the clod crusher is a poor remedy for poor tillage on naturally good land that lacks humus”.  Geez, sounds like the land on this ranch might have been worked pretty hard…now back to the entries). 

Tue.  May 9. 22.

 Jay sowed grain & Geo started floating and disking.  Dad looked for a lost sheep and found her.  A young guy stopped for a .25 cent breakfast going up to prospect for fur.  Keagle sent a man over for hay.   Expected to paper but Mama had the headache to(o) bad.  Churned and baked bread.


Wed. May 10.

 We papered the ceiling in a.m. in the front part of house & some of front room in p.m.  Jay and Dad cleaned grain in a.m. & in p.m.  Dad hauled manure & Jay started seeding across the creek & Geo. floated & harrowed.  (crossed out: a fellow was here from)  Baby was good all day.  Keagle came this far and brot the mail.  Dorma got a little bonnet from Clyde and Mary.  Keagle was here for dinner.  Keen wind.

Thur. May 11.

Washed and got thru early.  Man was here from Swan Lake after oats.  Geo. finished acrossed the creek & started to work on the piece acrossed the road.  Jay drilled acrossed the creek.  Dorma 8 weeks old the last day she wore bands.

(Blogger’s note: Wow, this shows a real old fashioned approach to baby management: swaddling bands!)  Here is what they look like:



Fri. May 12.

 Mama & Ruth ironed in a.m. & I cleaned the cupboards.  Cleaned up stairs in p.m.  I washed all the upstairs windows.  Mr. Sparry and Chas. K. were here for dinner.  Wilbur Vaughn was here but did not eat.  Ruth cleaned the milk house.  Dorma cross in p.m.  Mama, Ruth & I took our baths in the evening.

Sat. May 13.

Finished cleaning upstairs.  Scrubbed the kitchen.  Ruth made an angle (sic) food cake and mama made a molasses cake and pie.  Miss Myrtle Swanson came down on the stage to spend Sat & Sun with Ruth.  We all had a good time.  Dorma knew Mama & was so sweet.

Sun. May 14.

 I had a chill in the nite and got up with a headache & feeling pretty bum so went back to bed.  Ruth made ice cream & Jay took his bath.  Dad & Geo. W. went bear hunting & were at Binco’s for dinner.  We had dinner about 2 p.m.  I moped around all day.  Ruth & Geo. took Myrtle home in the evening after supper.

(Blogger’s Note: Bears were an important source of furs, grease, and meat to historic and prehistoric hunters in Montana.  Below is a roast bear recipe courtesy of



How to Roast a Bear


Eating omnivores, like bear,  can give you all kinds of parasites.  It’s best to cook it well done; I used the same temperature guidelines recommended for cooking pork. I cooked a rump roast, but this recipe should work well for any smaller cut of bear.

1 bear roast; 1-4 lbs
Salt and Pepper
1-2 cups mushrooms (or squash, parsnips, etc.  Something earthy and nice)
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Rinse bear meat and part dry.  Cover generously with salt and pepper.
2.  Clarify the butter: heat it in a microwave until it melts, then gently skim off the fatty solids that have separated to the top.  Pour butter into a cast iron skillet, being careful not to disturb any sediment that may have sunk to the bottom.
3.  Heat skillet over high heat.  Place bear in skillet and sear on all sides until browned.  Add mushrooms to the skillet–it’s ok if the bear is buried in shrooms.  They’ll cook down.
4. Move bear directly from stovetop into oven; roast 10 minutes per pound, until a meat thermometer in the center reads 145 degrees.  Remove from oven and allow to rest before carving.
5. In the meantime, make the sauce.  Pour bear drippings from the skillet into a saucepan and add flour.  Cook over medium heat until the flour is browned, then add water while whisking constantly.  Let the sauce cook until it thickens to your desired consistency–anything from a thin sauce to a thick gravy is fine.
6.  Carve meat into one-inch thick slices.  Serve, topped with mushrooms and sauce.


Our first glimpse of Dorma Ruth--and her Mama?

This photo was found in the dumpster along with just a few others. Since the diary entries have been talking about Dorma’s tribulations with colic, I thought it would be nice to see her in a more tranquil pose. Do you think this is her Mama? Or maybe her grandma? I would love to see your comments on this photo, maybe you can help me create a caption for it!

Little Dorma Ruth had a rough time of it for the next few days and so did her parents.  Have you been around a baby that just won’t stop crying, no matter what?  At first you fuss around trying to fix things, make her feel better, make that terrible noise STOP.  But nothing works.  The babies in my family are notorious for crying jags lasting for hours, even days.

What we now call “colic” is just a “bad old belly ache” or “night-time entertainment” for these tough Montana ranching moms–even a new one like our Diarist.  But although she has a pragmatic tone, at one point she can’t take it anymore and hands the screaming infant to Mama, below:

“Wed. April 19.

I fixed some of the babys clothes up,  Mama made a couple of pies.  Ruth finished Babys pillow case.

Mrs Ricker & Mrs. Keefer & Baby Nelva (sp?) came down for & hr or so in P.m.

Baby had a bad old belly ache all p.m.

The men worked on the M. cabin.

Deim was down all evening & Geo Walker came for dinner & stayed all nite.

Thur. April 20.

Mama & Ruth washed & I bathed Dorma & helped what I could about dinner

No one was over ambitious in p.m. but Baby & she had a bad old stomach ache again.

Clarence York & Fred Ostromeyer were here for dinner came to take Freds father out.

I napped & went for my walk in P.m.

Fri. April 21.

Ruth & Mama ironed & I tried Batheing the young lady.  She cried so hard Mama finished dressing her.

I made a pudding but never got much of anything done of any account.

I varnished in P.m.  Ruth took a bath.  Baby slept all p.m. & entertained us in the night.  Mamas head hurt.

The men worked on the cabin.  Deim & John Anderson was down in evening.”

Call me a bum: I glanced at wickipedia and got the below.

“Baby colic (also known as infantile colic) is defined as episodes of crying for more than three hours a day for more than three days a week for three weeks in an otherwise healthy child between the ages of two weeks and four months. The cause of the colic is generally unknown. Less than 5% of infants with excess crying have an underlying organic disease.”

Well, all you can do at that point is endure!!  But ain’t they cute when they stop?  As a treat for readers who have been hanging in there with me, I’m presenting the first of the few photos of this family that were saved from the dumpster last summer.  It’s in the blog right after this one:  I would love for you to comment on who you think the lady might be.  I’m pretty sure the baby is Dorma Ruth.