Over a Century of Farming
Vernon Boline is no stranger to hard work and manual labor. His family homesteaded the land he grew up on in Oliver Township over a century ago and he never left. While Vernon worked for neighbors on their farms, his brother farmed the family land until he had a stroke and could no longer work. Vernon then stepped up to the plate, took care of his brother and ran the farm. At the time, they had 40 to 50 head of cattle, grew wheat, barley and some oats. There’s more to the story though.
n 1948, Vernon was baling for an elderly couple who lived down the road. He had just purchased a new belt for the baler. He was told it was the right belt, but it didn’t seem to fit correctly. It would continuously clog up with weeds and then stop. With all of the starting and stopping, Vernon was getting disgusted. He jumped down and began pulling the weeds out of the belt. As he loosened the weeds, the belt began to move, catching the button on his sleeve and pulling his arm in to the rubber roller all the way up to his shoulder. He remembered seeing a piece of angle iron and he grabbed it and held on for dear life while trying to pull his arm out. With all the strength he could muster, he pulled his arm out to his elbow and continued fighting to hold himself back. Finally, the rubber roller burnt off and burnt his arm off with it. His arm never bled.
When asked what his thought was at that point Vernon replied, “I looked down and my arm wasn’t even bleeding, but right then, I didn’t care about that arm at all. I was alive.”
He then walked over, shut the machine off and walked to the farmer’s house. The man was out in the field working but thankfully, his wife was home. Vernon went to the door and told her what happened. The lady couldn’t see well enough to dial the ambulance so she began walking away from him. Vernon asked, “Where are you going?”
The lady let Vernon know her husband had once told her if she ever needed help while he was working the field, to open the garage door and he’d see it and come in. She then commented she could probably dial her brother in law and he would call the ambulance for her. The Ray ambulance was there within minutes and took Vernon to the hospital.
For Vernon, the entire incident happened so quickly that much of it seemed unclear. Many things ran through his mind in those few minutes his arm was being pulled in to the baler. In a matter of seconds, his entire life changed. He now had to learn to do everything with one arm, including run the farm. If anybody could do it, Vernon could. He was determined and focused and he knew the farm couldn’t run itself.
He married late in life to a wonderful woman who already had three amazing daughters. He couldn’t have asked for better daughters. They were as close as if they’d been his biological children.
He began raising Quarter horses nearly fifty years after his farming accident. He’d halter break them and sell them as yearlings. This is the part of farming he loved the most, but unfortunately he had to give it up last year. With the help of his Border Collie, Schep, Vernon continues to board horses for his neighbor and dear friend, but is no longer farming.
When asked what he thought of the economy, the oil boom and what it’s done to his community, his response was, “In my opinion, we need a lot more smaller farmers. This country would be a lot better off. There aren’t many cattle farmers anymore and we see it in the meat prices. People would be surprised at how things would change if we had more farmers.” Vernon is not impressed by the oil boom. He feels it’s nice for some people because they get some money out of it, but he also thinks its more misery than it’s worth. It seems to be a constant battle over mineral rights. He states, “This used to be nice country, but the oil business has really changed it.” He did, however, make sure I knew what great neighbors he has. They’ve helped him out many times throughout the years and they keep him stocked with homemade baked goods.