By Bill Anderson
The month of February ended on a pleasant note, as the temperature climbed to 41 degrees above Zero on Monday, February 28, and Mother Nature provided a sunny, nearly windless, day to close out the month. Winter isn’t over, yet, though. The forecast is predicting high temperatures below the freeze line, along with the possibility of more snow, for the coming week. We have to remember that the Ground Hog, old Rutland Rasputin, saw his shadow back on February 2, a circumstance calling for 6 more weeks of winter. Well, that 6 weeks will be up right around St. Patrick’s Day, so, no matter how cold the temperature or how deep the snow may be, be prepared to celebrate the arrival of Spring, and green beer, at about the same time.
Mike & Phyllis Wyum, Chuck & Mary Beth Anderson, and Randy & Gayleen Ptacek departed Sargent County, bound for Hawaii on Sunday, February 20. They arrived back home on the evening of Monday, February 28, after spending a week enjoying the climate and seeing the sites on America’s Pacific paradise. According to Chuck, they headquartered at a very nice hotel on the island of Oahu, fronting the beach, with rooms on the 22nd floor, overlooking an idyllic lagoon.
Chuck said that he enjoyed the whale watching cruise, during which they got up close and personal with some humpback whales, including a playful calf; and a tour of Pearl Harbor that included a visit to the battleship USS Missouri, the ship on which the Japanese surrendered on September 2, 1945, at the end of WWII, and a tour of the USS Arizona Memorial, the American battleship that was sunk, with about 1,100 of its crew still aboard, on the day the U. S. was thrust into WWII, December 7, 1941. Hawaii is a wonderful place, Chuck said, but he and Mary Beth have other locations on their “bucket list” to visit before they make a return trip. The weather on Hawaii is boring, perfect every day.
On Tuesday, March 1, Rutland native, Judge Dan Narum, forwarded an article that had appeared on Dakota Datebook on Monday, February 28. Usually, Dakota Datebook articles pertain to something specific that had happened on that particular date in the history of North Dakota, but the February 28 article, written by Merry Helm, was an interesting story that pertained to subjects of interest to the Judge: horses; cowboys; bronc riding; and his old home town. The main characters in the article were: a wild stallion named Sovereign; a bronc rider named Fred Ward; a sale barn operator named Ray Snell; and a couple of Rutland cowboys named Percy Pherson and Bill Erickson. Fred Ward had grown up in Hankinson, where he and his brother helped their Dad break & train horses for sale to local buyers back in the 20’s, 30’s & 40’s. In the process, Fred Ward became a Champion Bronc Rider on the rodeo circuit. The Wards usually bought the wild horses they broke and trained at the sale barn then in operation in Hankinson, run by Ray Snell. At one sale in the late 40’s, Bill Erickson bought a wild stallion. The article says that Bill was from Geneseo, but we all know that Bill headquartered on his farm south of Rutland. He was a horse trader of the old school. “you can’t lie,” he said, “but you don’t have to tell the truth.” Bill had his newly purchased stallion tied to a wagon, but the horse was powerful, broke loose and took off into the sandhills, now the Federal Grasslands, near Hankinson. He ran loose for 2 years, and despite many attempts to capture him, he always outsmarted his pursuers and got away. Sometimes he joined other bands of horses in the grasslands, but he always evaded capture. He was as fast as the wind and could leap over most any fence in the area. The big stallion was given the name “Sovereign” by those who pursued him. Bill Erickson still considered the horse to be his property, and he offered him for sale to whoever could catch him. Percy Pherson, a horseman who appreciated a horse with spirit, purchased the right to own Sovereign from Bill. Percy organized a posse of cowboys, located the herd that Sovereign was running with, and eventually chased the whole bunch into a large corral. They then proceeded, one by one, to remove the other horses from the corral until only Sovereign remained. Then they cornered him and finally caught him. Percy wanted the best horse trainer in the area to break Sovereign to ride, and recruited Fred Ward for the job. According to Some local “experts,” Sovereign could never be broke but Fred adhered to the old saying, “There’s never a horse that couldn’t be rode, and never a cowboy that couldn’t be throwed.” According to Fred, the horse, all 1,250 pounds of him, could really buck. Sometimes Fred got throwed, but more often, Sovereign got rode. Fred worked with Sovereign until he was broke to ride, then he continued to work with him, training him to perform many tricks, even to walk sideways. But, Sovereign was a one man horse. No one else could ride him, so Percy turned the ownership over to Fred. On one occasion, Fred and Sovereign were performing at a horse show in Rutland, when several of the sporting gents in the community bet Fred that he couldn’t ride his stallion into The Lariat Bar. Fred took up their bet, but only if the bar owner, Willard “Bud” Bohn, agreed. Bud agreed, and Fred rode Sovereign into the bar and out again. Then Fred laid down on the street outside the bar, grabbed a stirrup and had Sovereign drag him down Main Street. “Now do you believe he’s broke?” he asked the doubters. Fred and Sovereign performed in many rodeos and horse shows, including many appearances at the Fort Ransom Rodeo, and eventually Fred settled in Fort Ransom, where he owned and operated a bar, Fred’s Corral. Sovereign was Fred’s horse until the day he died. In his later years, Fred Ward sold the bar and operated an antique shop in Fort Ransom. His shop featured many articles pertaining to horses, horsemanship and the old west. There aren’t many horses or horsemen left, but there is still at least one, Judge Dan Narum, who breaks and trains his own horses when he’s not in court. Thanks for the article Dan, and thanks for the memory.
When cattlemen start seeing new calves, can Spring be far behind? Cam Gulleson reports that the 2022 Spring calving season has begun. Cam says that the first of the Gulleson herd’s 700 expectant mothers gave birth on Wednesday, February 16 to a healthy, happy & handsome black angus calf. The Gullesons expect that their expectant mothers and their new calves will be keeping them busy for the next couple of months.
About 2 dozen members of the Rutland community, ranging in age from 3 to 83, enjoyed “Game Day” from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 27, at the Nordland Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall. There were board games, card games and other games played, and nearly everyone won a door prize and received a Thrivent T-shirt. In keeping with Lutheran tradition, coffee and lunch were served. All participants agreed that they had enjoyed an entertaining afternoon.
All roads will be leading to Rutland on the evening of Friday, March 4, as the members of The Rutland Sportsmen’s Club serve their annual Great Northern Pike Fish fry to the awaiting public. The menu includes: deep fried and pan fried northern pike filets; baked potatoes; dinner rolls; and, coleslaw. The Sargent Central Trap Shooting Team will also be on hand, selling raffle tickets and assisting with the serving. The Sportsmen’s Club’s Great Northern Pike Fish Fry is served annually, on the first Friday in March of each year. Next year’s fish fry is on the schedule for Friday, March 3, 2023.
The Rutland Seniors morning coffee gang celebrated “Fat Tuesday,” with a minor Mardi Gras Party at the Lariat Bar on the evening of Tuesday, March 1. Tuesdays are normally “Taco Tuesday” at The Lariat, and a sizable percentage of the celebrants enjoyed the hard shelled-soft shelled taco special. Some of the ladies even had Mardi Gras masks and beads, but that’s about as far as it went. No danger of Mardi Gras in Rutland stealing the thunder of the Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans LA or Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Christian season of Lent began on Ash Wednesday, March 2.
The Rutland Post Office situation remains the same: no information; no action; no service; and, no Post Office. When there might be some good news to report is anybody’s to guess, and nobody’s to know.
Meanwhile, on the international scene, the most famous quote of the year belongs to the President of the Republic of Ukraine, who, when offered assistance from the U.S. to leave the Ukrainian Capitol City of Kiev, replied, “I don’t need a ride. We need more ammunition.” The courage and determination of the Ukrainian people, and of their President, are an inspiration to those who love freedom all over the world. May God Bless the Ukrainians, and their eloquent President.
Some upcoming events in Rutland include: Rutland Sportsmen’s Club’s Annual Great Northern Pike Fish Fry, commencing at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 4, at the Rutland Town Hall; Rutland City Council monthly meeting at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 7, in the Rutland Town Hall; Rutland Sportsmen’s Club’s monthly meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, at The John Narum Trap & Rifle Range Clubhouse, north of Silver lake; and, Rutland Community Club meeting on Monday, March 14, in the Rutland Town Hall.
Well, that’s the news from Rutland for this week. For additional information about what’s going on in the little city that can, check out the community’s internet web site at www.rutlandnd.com, and take a look at the Rutland Facebook page while you’re at it, too. Don’t forget to patronize your local Post Office and remember to keep the pressure on the U.S. Postal Service and the North Dakota Congressional delegation to SAVE OUR POST OFFICE! Later.