By Bill Anderson
The brief rain shower that passed through Rutland and vicinity on the afternoon of Monday, July 19, was the equivalent of a bloop single that spoiled what would have been a perfect game for the Drought team this past week: no rain; no fog; and, no dew. Although the rain came down hard for a few minutes, it did not leave even a slight measurable trace in any of the local rain gauges. The haze that has been hanging in the sky for the past week is not any kind of moisture in the atmosphere, the weather gurus tell us, but is smoke from the fires in western Canada; eastern Canada; and, the northwestern U. S. The fires have already consumed hundreds of thousands of acres of timber and, with no rain in sight, are expected to continue until there is either significant rainfall, or all of the timber is consumed, whichever occurs first. In the meantime, the thought that, “Every day that it doesn’t rain is one day closer to the day that it will,” is keeping hope alive out here on the Great American Desert.
The harvest of Hard Red Spring Wheat commenced last week, and mixed results, ranging from poor to worse are being reported. Despite some reports of yields as low as 9 bushels to the acre, trucks filled with wheat are rolling down Main Street in Rutland, heading for the Wheaton-Dumont Co-op’s facility here, Rodney Erickson’s refurbished Rutland Elevator. The relative success of the harvest seems to be directly tied to when the crop was seeded. Cameron Gulleson reports that Gulleson Brothers have harvested some fields that were planted just before the one good rain this area received back in April, and those fields have yielded from 15 to 30 bushels to the acre. That is a long way from the 50 to 70 bushel wheat yields to which local producers have become accustomed, though. Old timers remember when 20 bushel wheat would have been a bumper crop, and a $2.00 price was boom times. This year, though, the only bright spot in the picture is that the reports of skimpy yields have pushed the price of wheat up to nearly $7.00 per bushel in some markets, so there’s always some good news, even if you have to look under the rocks to find it.
Eugene Erickson of Ithaca NY, accompanied by one of his sons, Jeff Erickson, visited in Rutland at Noon on Wednesday, July 14. The two were on a family history fact finding mission, and were in Rutland looking for information concerning Eugene’s mother, the late Ida (Helberg) Erickson. The original Helbergs were Swedish Immigrants who homesteaded on the Tewaukon-Ransom Township Line southeast of Rutland back in the 1890’s. The original farmhouse was in Tewaukon Township, and the barn was in Ransom. Their farmstead is now the site of Roger Nelson’s farm headquarters. Eugene’s mother was a daughter of these immigrants, and a younger sister of the late Theodore “Ted” Helberg of this community. Ida married Oscar Erickson of Dunbar Township, and they later settled at McLeod ND, in Ransom County. Eugene, now 92 years of age, grew up in McLeod ND and graduated from high school there. Oscar Erickson was a brother of Alvin Erickson, father of the famous “Uncle Ed” Erickson of Shuman Township who is noted as the inventor of the Eagle Ditcher and as one of the mastermind builders of the frying pan for Rutland’s “World’s Largest Hamburger” back in 1982. Eugene went to college at NDSU, at that time titled North Dakota College of Agriculture and Applied Science, in Fargo, graduating with a Degree in Agriculture in 1953. He then went on to graduate school at Michigan State University, and to a teaching career as a Professor of Rural Sociology at Cornell University in Ithaca NY, one of the most prestigious agricultural colleges in the world. Eugene has been retired for a quarter of a century, but he is still mentally & physically active, and, to look at him you would think that he is 62, not 92. While in Rutland, the Ericksons had dinner at the Rutland Seniors Center, and enjoyed visiting with many there, including Dick Meyers, who remembered the late Ted & Tina Helberg well. They had also stopped at the Sargent County Museum in Forman to do some research in the local newspapers from years ago. Jeff had found the obituary for his great grandmother, Karina Helberg, and from that had picked up some new trails to follow in their search for family history. When they departed Rutland, the Ericksons were headed for the Alan & Doreen Olstad farm, to check out their family’s connection to the Olstad family.Continue reading “The Rooster Crows – July 23, 2021”