Richard C Davids (1913-1984)

Born May 15, 1913   to Ole and Annie Davids in Bagley, MN. He was the youngest in a household of 6 brothers, 2 sisters, a cousin (Mae Barness), and a beloved auntie. He stood 6’2 inches tall and was color blind. His grandparents immigrated from Norway. One Grandfather a farmer, one grandfather a sailor. His own dad, Ole, owned a lumber mill.

He graduated from Bagley High School in 1930. At age 18 he taught for several years in a rural school south of Shevlin. He had an omnibus class for gifted students and a bird identification class.There were 35 students ranging in age from 5-18.

He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Journalism Degree (Magna Cum Laude & Phi Beta Kappa).

After graduation he wrote the first textbook on conservation in the United States. He was editor for Better Homes & Garden and Farm Journal,

advisor to The Lutheran, contributor to Reader’s Digest & National Audubon Society. He was also, a collaborator on the creation of Ranger Rick at Magazine of National Wildlife Federation.  

Throughout his life he published four books:

“How to Talk to Birds” (some stock available on site)

“The Man Who Moved a Mountain” (still in print)

“Garden Wizardry”

“Lords of the Arctic”

He was the Bagley Garden Club President, a Faith Lutheran Church Choir member, and a frequent world traveler.

Upon learning of his diagnosis of cancer and having never married with no children Richard set out to make his home a home for all to visit when needed. He died in Bagley, MN at the age of 70, happily knowing his legacy was secured in Farm By The Lake.

Some Quotes from Richard:

“I want to convert people to love nature in hopes they’ll then do the right thing.”

“Where people come with questions, not with answers”

“Before God made man, He created a garden.”

“Everyone needs a touch of wilderness.”

Interesting info:

Many people ask why it is called Farm By The Lake?

Richard’s family owned two farms: One a dairy and turkey farm, the other the Farm By The Lake (being on the shore of Lake Lomond).

There was a two famous trees on the grounds before storms took them down: One was Richard’s “Thinking Tree” - where he would go to write, the other “A Smorgasbord Tree” - a crabapple tree bearing 10 varieties of apples. Richard was a teacher of grafting trees.


Richard's Cousin

Mae Barness (1891-1982)

Mae Barness came with her mother to live with the Davids in 1898. She was Richard Davids’s cousin. The Log Cabin, at Farm By The Lake, is lovingly referred to as Mae’s Cabin. Several of Mae’s flower drawings are hanging in the cabin to this day.  

She graduated in 1911. She attended college at Moorhead State, and taught school in a log cabin in Clearbrook. Mae was elected County Superintendent of Schools in 1918, a position she held for over 50 years. 

As Superintendent, Mae supervised over 70 country schools. She tried to visit each school once or twice a year. At first she traveled by horse and buggy. Later, she got a car. Mae was known for driving fast. She was once clocked going almost 90 mph down the middle of the road!

Mae appreciated the teachers in the country schools; she felt that they gave a lot of themselves in their jobs. The teacher had to be a nurse, janitor, musician, philosopher, peacemaker, wrangler, fire stoker, baseball player, professor, and poet for a salary of less than $50 a month. Equipped with little more than a blackboard and a few textbooks, teachers taught their pupils cultural values and a sound knowledge of the three R’s. The admiration that Mae felt for the teachers was returned. Many teachers considered Mae one of their closest friends. 

Students also loved Mae. She would always have a special smile or a kind word for each and every child. If a student had a problem in school, Mae would look at the whole child, not just his time at school, but also his background and home life. Mae did everything she could to make school fun. She was also generous; many student’s higher education was started with a loan from Mae.  

Mae officially retired in 1971; however, she worked two more years without pay, as she felt that there were not enough rural schools left in the county to merit a salary.

After she retired, Mae traveled to many different countries around the world. Some of the places she visited were Norway, Bolivia, Greece and the Holy Lands.  She met and made friends with many people while traveling, Mae took many pictures. She would then have slide presentations of her travels to show people in Clearwater County. 


1st Director - Caretaker - Naturalist

Robert Boutain (1951-1993)

Robert was born in Benson, MN to Edward and Ileta Boutain. He attended Clontarf Elementary School and graduated from Benson High School. He received a degree in forestry and agriculture from the University on Minnesota. In 1974 he moved to Bagley where he taught agriculture, outdoor recreation, and coached volleyball at the Bagley Vocational School for 11 years. He was a member of the Bagley Garden Club as well as a 4-H leader.  

Robert Boutain was the first, and most loved, Director/Caretaker/Naturalist of The Farm By The Lake. He was tireless in his devotion to the Farm. He obtained several large contributors, developed curriculum for area schools, kept the grounds in immaculate condition and greeted all guests. He presented programming on demand and taught through Community Education in skiing, wreath making, bird watching, and orienteering. He arranged bird watching trips and was a bander. He produced any art work used by the Farm, developed newsletters, and kept the schools supplied with goldfish programs whenever he was called upon. His friends were caught up in his love for the Farm and became supporters. Unfortunately, Robert was only here for 8 years and passed away at the young age of 41 on Jan 9, 1993.