This is the first of Merle Aus’ stories written exclusively for HorsesOfTheWest.com. Keep checking back, and he’ll write more! For more information about Merle, check out his page.
Well here it is spring again. The birds are back from their winter feeding grounds. The grass is green and some of the wild flowers are showing their brilliant colors. The trees were a little slow in getting their new leaves this year because it has been cooler than normal but now they are green and beautiful.
When I was kid and there was an opportunity to listen to some old timers tell stories I would rather be a rubberneck and hear what they had to say than to go off to play. One remark I remember them saying this time of year was “Well we made it to green grass again”. They usually meant that their feed supplies lasted until the grass turned green again. Now that I’m an old geezer myself I realize it could have I different meaning.
In 1940 our parents moved from Scranton ND to Amidon ND. It was near Scranton where Dad had been one of the very first homesteaders in that part of the state.
At Amidon, the folks were able to lease a small ranch a few miles west of Amidon, and later purchased it and also added to it. The depression was about over and the economy was improving but the big war was on and gas was rationed, as well as tires,batteries and many other commodities . This made local gatherings more popular than traveling to big celebrations for special occasions. Just a couple miles south of our place and a stones throw from some land we owned was a dam across Sand Creek. This was a WPA project from president FDR’s “put people back to work program.” It created a nice lake for a few years until silt from the surrounding hills washed down and completely filled the lake. Before that happened there were lot of picnics held there.
One fourth of July the community organized a picnic there. The main event was the potluck meal, but a speaker would come and talk politics. A ball game would be organized and also a horse race. This was just for local cowponies. I was just starting to break a four year old colt. He had never been touched until two weeks before the picnic. It was a really dumb thing to do to a colt but I was a teenager with an ego so I had to get in the race.
When the starter said “go” my bronc headed south . The race went north. I didn’t win. Donnie Erickson was also in the race. Donnie was a neighbor kid, a little younger than me and riding bareback on a nice black mare. We were running across a hay field with some small piles of hay scattered here and there. Donnie was making a good run until “Beautie” came to a pile of hay and stopped. Donnie went head first into the hay. He made a soft landing so we all had a good laugh. He laughed too.
So long for now.
Merle Aus—author of “It’s Better to be Lucky Than Good”