Volume 126, Number 12
Enjoyment of making sausage turned into a business
BY SARA J. PLUM
It’s quiet now at Brenno Meats in Sheyenne. Another deer season has come and gone and the processing orders have been completed.
We sit around the stainless steel table where normally sausage is fed into casings and wrapped. Today the surface shines and only holds my yellow legal pad and the frame of the stuffer.
Brenno Meats "officially" began in 1995 when the state health department began inspecting deer processing sites. A new building was put up and finished according to health codes, making a "sideline" a full-time business.
Owner/operator Larry Brenno has been making deer sausage for almost 49 years. He gives credit to the late Frank Piatz of Harlow for showing him how to make a basic sausage when he was 18. (If you do the math, that makes Larry . . . well, old enough to be my uncle!) Through the years the basic sausage has evolved into Brenno Sausage, Polish sausage, salami and pepperoni stix. Add to that venison bacon, dried venison and jerky, and it’s clear there are options to choose from when customers bring in their deer.
Want a little more kick to your sausage? No problem.
Something different? How about chunks of cheese mixed in?
A little more garlic? Sure! The recipe? Sorry, that stays in the family.
Family is important to the continuation of small businesses. Larry’s son and his family, Jeff, Lori, Chance and Mason of New Rockford and Larry’s companion, Linda Kleinsasser are there during the peak processing months of September to April. The adults make anywhere from nine to 18 tons of sausage, depending on customer orders. (That’s not including salami, pepperoni stix, venison bacon, etc.) The youngsters help out when they can with wrapping and marking.
Besides a walk-in cooler and freezer, there are five regular freezers that store meat and finished product during the peak months. There is also a huge smoker, plus slicers, scales and the other equipment needed for processing meat. Can you imagine what the electricity bill is during those months?
On average, Brenno Meats handles 600 to 700 deer every year with about 200 of them needing to be boned out. That means the majority of the customers bring the meat in ready to be ground. Some customers even bring frozen deer meat in during the summer so they can get a fresh batch of sausage, salami or pepperoni stix.
Another part of the business Larry enjoys is making sausage for benefits and other large gatherings, like the Equity Elevator annual meeting breakfast and the annual youth hunting and fishing expo in Devils Lake. It’s a good way for people to try the product, which in turn drums up new business.
Not that he needs a lot of new business. There are customers that had Larry making sausage for them long before Brenno Meats came into being. Many others have discovered that he likes to keep the sausage as lean as possible. One customer said he doesn’t get regular bacon at his house any more because his wife and kids won’t eat anything but Larry’s venison bacon. But he’s not complaining — he loves it, too.
Long-time, loyal customers are also very important to small businesses and this Harlow farm boy appreciates every one of them.
The second son of John and Signe (Gustafson) Brenno, Larry grew up with three sisters and two brothers during a time when farm families raised and grew the majority of their own food. He wasn’t a stranger to butchering, milking cows, collecting eggs, weeding the garden, churning butter or running the cream separator at the farm west of Harlow. My Grandma Signe once told me she made sure her children knew how to fend for themselves.
Larry attended school in Harlow and Leeds before transferring to BCATS in Maddock his senior year, graduating in 1960. With a bad drought affecting the area and not many job opportunities for a young man with a farming background, Larry went to Rugby to find work.
In 1962 he volunteered for the military and was stationed with the US Army in Germany during the Cuban Missile Crisis. While there Larry was a clerk/typist in the war room and was also a Jeep driver for one of the captains. Because of the top secret information his unit handled, there were times the war room had to be moved into armored carriers, where it was kept mobile and secure.
After serving two years, he came back home and drove a gravel truck for several years. Larry also got into stock and modified stock car racing and competed at several tracks in North Dakota. He rebuilt his own engines and became "the one they wanted off their track" at a couple locations. One competitor even "rubbed" Larry’s car hard enough to break off a front wheel. Engine power and momentum enabled him to finish the race, much to the chagrin of the other drivers.
He was named "Rookie of the Year" in 1964 at the track in Grand Forks and kind of felt like a celebrity when a local radio station interviewed him the next day. Larry raced one more year before a pretty lady turned his head and asked him to give up the dangerous sport.
That lady, Linda Geske of Warwick, became Larry’s bride in 1967 and they made their home near Sheyenne. Larry became a cattle buyer and rancher and Linda worked in the Sheyenne Post Office and the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Sheyenne. Daughter Tammy was born in 1968 and son Jeffrey joined the family in 1972. Ten years later a tragic car accident claimed Linda’s life and Larry had to become both mother and father to his young children. Grandma Signe helped until cancer forced her to slow down, eventually taking her life.
There were a few tough years, but the family survived. Daughter Tammy and her two children, Lindsey and Daniel, are now in Williston where she is a computer operator for an oil company. During the "fifth"
season in the Midwest, son Jeff works for a road construction company in Minnesota. Lori keeps busy with the kids and various part-time jobs when she’s not mixing or stuffing sausage. And Larry’s companion, Linda works full-time in the dietary department at the Carrington Health Center three days a week.
Now that things have slowed down at Brenno Meats, Larry keeps busy getting his boat ready for Devils Lake and all the fishing he wants to do this summer. He is also putting together a seed order for the garden he plants every year. According to Larry, it isn’t a good year if you can’t can at least 100 quarts of tomatoes. His garden is filled with about 65 tomato plants to help him achieve his goal.
Larry still processes meat during the off-peak months, but for now it’s quiet and there’s time to visit with those who stop by, and to watch the birds returning for another North Dakota summer.
Located on the northeastern edge of Sheyenne, Brenno Meats is the last place on the left on Riverside Avenue. Not only is it the place to have deer processed, it’s also a spot people go to shoot the breeze. On the left is Jeff Brenno, whom this writer likes to call the "heir apparent" as well as cousin. Flanking the business sign on the right is the owner, Larry Brenno. There is a strong consensus in Sheyenne that Uncle Larry would be a perfect Santa Claus.
Foss Bridge closed
The Foss Bridge near the golf course west of Maddock on the paved county road has closed due to water erosion. This photo shows how running water can erode the land adjacent to a bridge and make it extremely dangerous. Water somehow flowed between the wooden buttresses of the bridge and the adjacent roadbed, cutting a new channel through the road.
This sign gives ample warning that the road is closed ahead. There have been many reports of people going around these barriers, but that could be dangerous according to Wanda Teigen at the Benson County Highway Department. People have even been stealing the road closed signs, putting subsequent travelers at risk.
One can see that the pavement above the eroded area of the bridge has dropped about a foot. A couple days after this photo was taken the asphalt gave way and fell into the crevasse below. Many roads in the county have washed out, but this is probably the most dramatic instance and it will be expensive to fix.
No lake, no river, still a flood
Volunteers gathered at Leeds on Good Friday to place a sandbag wall around the lift station on the southwest edge of the town. Dan Stave and his nephew, Kaiden Straabe and some FFA’ers came to help. Among those in this photo filling and placing sandbags are Anthony Ritterman, Kyle Nelsen, Paul Peterson, Mayor Lloyd Himle, Joe Strand, Kyle Jorgenson, council member Jeff Jacobson, Michael Urness, Seth Bisbee and Darrin Young. Donny Blegen brought the city sander. Council member Lori Nelsen sent her sons, Kevin and Kalvin Slaubaugh to help. Others helping were Korry Dokken, council member Pete Ritterman and his sons, Anthony and James.
Left to right are Kevin Slaubaugh, Dan Stave, Kyle Jorgenson, Kalvin Slaubaugh, Micheal Urness and Jeff Jacobson.
Left to right are Anthony Ritterman, Paul Peterson, Mayor Lloyd Himle, Korry Dokken and Kyle Nelsen. (Photos by Tammy Urness, Leeds)
Water on the road
This is a sight one sees all too often on rural roads in North Dakota this spring. This road is in the Leeds area. Many township and county roads are closed because roads have washed out. (Photo by April Peterson, Leeds)
LionCats place first
The Lady LionCats of Leeds and Maddock placed first in the 7th-8th grade division in a 3-on-3 tournament in Fessenden this past month. Members of the team included, left to right, Sara Schwanke of Maddock, McKenzie Silliman and Meghan Jorgenson of Leeds and Katelyn Engh of Maddock. The girls played against teams from New Rockford, Carrington and Fessenden. The girls were coached by Kate Schwanke of Maddock.
Play in tourney
Area elementary girls participated in the KJ Basketball Tournament on March 28 in Carrington, winning two of three games and taking fifth place. Left to right are Allyson Lauinger, Kennedy Doornbos, Kristi Medalen, Maria Sears, Annie Jorgenson, Coach Bridget Lunde, Ashley Risovi, Alexis Gigstad and Taylor Bisbee. Sponsors were the North Star Community Credit Union of Maddock, Summers Manufacturing of Maddock and a private sponsor. These girls, along with Kaylee Tollerud, Hailey Kallenbach and Megan Olson, participated in a tournament in Lakota March 14.
Matt Gilbertson, president of the Benson County Farmers Union, presents Kimberly Randle of Maddock with a $200 scholarship. Farmers Union youth who complete junior and senior classwork and receive their Torchbearer Award from the North Dakota Farmers Union are eligible for the county scholarship. Kimberly is a 2008 graduate of Maddock High School and is a freshman at UND.
Rescue goes bad
This Dodge pickup broke through the ice just off Old Hwy. 281 about five miles north of Minnewaukan.
An outfit from Lakota came to rescue the pickup with its wrecker and car cradle.
But uh oh! The back wheels of the wrecker broke through the ice before the rescue even began.
The wrecker began to disappear in the water as workers stood by helplessly. (Above photos by Allan Nord, Minnewaukan)
The wrecker (left) and the Dodge pickup (right) suffered the same fate a few feet from each other. The wrecker eventually sunk below the ice. (Photo by Jason Feldner, Minnnewaukan)
Math fair at Leeds
Leeds Elementary students enjoyed an afternoon of hands-on math activities at a recent math fair held at the school. The math fair was organized by the students’ math committee. Air pressure, tension and gravity activities relating to measurement in math were demonstrated by the sixth grade class for the kindergarten through fifth grade. First grade students Macy Engstrom, front, and Alea Manley, her back to the camera, assemble a fake lung as sixth grader Tristan Henderson demonstrates the process.
Kindergarten student Blayne Anderson, center, watches the "tumbling clown" he constructed walk down an incline as Izik Burtchell and Mrs. Galbraith look on.
It’s Rodney, not Fred
Last week’s issue of the Farmers Press identified the man grinding flour into wheat as Fred Sharbono of Graham’s Island. The editor should have checked more thoroughly. It actually was Rodney Brown of Devils Lake, a member of the Ramsey County Farm Bureau and the Ramsey County Fair Board, helping Minnewaukan fourth grader O’Shea Red Fox grind wheat into flour as the students explore all the North Dakota grown commodities that are part of one of their favorite foods — pizza. The editor apologizes to both Fred Sharbono and Rodney Brown.
T-Bones Bar and Lanes and the Main Street Cafe on Fessenden’s Main Street went up in flames at about 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 16. See this dramatic photo in color at www.bensoncountynews.com. (Photo by Susan Fossen, Maddock)
Kevin Cartwright, left, and Deb Belquist, center, accepted the Governor’s Award for the Arts on April 7 on behalf of the Dakota Prairie Regional Center for the Arts. The ND Governor’s Awards for the Arts Program is presented every two years by the governor’s office and the ND Council on the Arts (NDCA) to recognize individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the arts in the state. The 2009 nominations were reviewed by NDCA, which then submitted final candidates to the governor for selection of the award winners. The Dakota Prairie Regional Center for the Arts of New Rockford was the 2009 winner in the Arts Organization category. On the right is Sen. Joan Heckaman (D-New Rockford).
Maddock alumni tourney results
The 6th Annual Maddock Alumni Basketball Tournament was held at the Maddock High School gym on Saturday, April 11. Six men’s teams participated in the pool play event, with two women’s teams also taking part in the hardwood action. Money raised after expenses will be donated to the Maddock Bleacher Fund and the Maddock Sports Boosters. On a side note, this was the last athletic event held at the school with the wooden bleachers. T-shirt sponsors included Erickson Aerial Spraying, Total Ag Consulting, BK Seeds and the Esmond Men’s Club. Next year’s tournament will be held on April 3, with registrations being due by March 5, 2010.
The championship game pitted the 1996-1999 team against the 2000-2003 squad. The 1996-1999 guys took home the hardware with a final score of 55-38. The third place game was captured by the 1990-1995 team, which squeaked by the 2003-2007 team by the score of 57-52. The fifth place game was won by the 2007-2009 team, which defeated the 1971-1987 cagers by a score of 56-50.
In the women’s game, the 1999-2009 team defeated the 1980-1998 crew by a score of 45-37.
Members of the 1996-1999 team were: back row, left to right, Damon Finley, Justin Hovland, Duston Hoffner, Justin Maddock and Ryan Knatterud. Front row, left to right, are Bryan Engebretson, David Brown, Jeff Daeley and Davin Leier.
Members of the 2000-2003 team were: back row, left to right, Shane Maddock, Nathan Faleide, Erick Lunde and Eric Hoffner. Front row, left to right, Kyle Olson, Josh Swanson and Justin Swanson. Kneeling is Tim Leier.
Members of the 1990-1995 team were: back row, left to right, Gerry Anderson, Andrew Arnston, Aanen Bergrud, Billy Arnold, Michael Sorlie and Lance Alexander. Front row, left to right, Jason Faleide, Bryan Leier, Kyle Sabbe, Mark Williams and Chris Arnston.
Members of the 2003-2007 team were: back row, left to right, Jesse Stensby, Shawn McCloud, Mark Wack and Adam Aanderud. Front row, left to right, Jordan Backstrom, Dave Stensland, Kasey Kallenbach and Jamie Kallenbach.
Members of the 2007-2009 team were: back row, left to right, Beau Buehler, Andy Bergrud, Kyle Nelson and Brandon Lunde. Front row, left to right, Tyler Lang, Levi Slater, Levi Griffin, Tyler Sears and Aaron Smith. Not pictured is Andy Backstrom.
Members of the 1971-1987 team were: back row, left to right, Keith Smith, Monte Stensland, Richard Bubach, Corey Bergrud and Aaron Johnson. Front row, left to right, Rod Maddock, Doug Schmid, Tom Gilbertson and Gregg Smith. Not pictured are honorary team members Tim Kallenbach and Danny Odden.
Members of the 1999-2009 women’s team were: back row, left to right, Laura Taylor, Shana Tollerud, JoLynn Fautsch and Jalissa Hovland.
Front row, left to right, Courtney Foss, Michelle Olson, Shannon Schloss, Kassandra Griffin and Julie Ellingson.
Members of the 1980-1998 women’s team were: back row, left to right, Dawn Hermanson, Lorissa Green, Annie Bergrud, Aimee Schmit and Pam Rangen. Front row, left to right, Kim Backstrom, Rachel Maddock, Becky Kallenbach, Beth Olson and Karen Smith.
Former Maddock School Superintendent Leonard Bubach made an appearance at the alumni tournament. He is pictured with son Robert Bubach of Lisbon, his wife Darlene, and son Richard Bubach of Minot. Leonard and Darlene currently reside in Towner.
The Maddock School held an Elementary Academic Challenge on April 6. There were seven teams competing. Maddock received first and second place. Members of the first team were, left to right, front row, Emily Sears and Ethan Nolden. Middle row: Jaydin Risovi and Nora Duren. Back row, Alexis Gigstad and Maria Sears.
Members of the second place team were, left to right, front row, Spencer Sears and LinElla Pistol. Middle row: Micki Brandvold and Kristi Medalen. Back row, Ashley Risovi and Alyssa Armentrout.
Maddock competed in the Fessenden Academic Challenge on April 7 and took third place. Members of this team were, left to right, front row, Spencer Sears and Evan Eyl. Middle row: Natalia Wright and Kristi Medalen. Back row, Maria Sears and Kenadi Lee.