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Young farmer also works as a coal miner

Jayme Boeshans, left, and his father, Jerome, stand in a hay field near Beulah. In the background is the Coyote Generating Station. Jayme works at the adjacent Dakota Westmoreland Corp’s Beaulah mine, which supplies the coal used at the station. John Brose / Special to Forum News Service

BEULAH, N.D. – Jayme Boeshans, with help from family and friends, is building a modest farmstead north of here. It isn’t far from the house where he grew up and his parents still live. It’s also near the house, now mostly lost to time and the waters of manmade Lake Sakakawea, where his great-grandparents homesteaded.

“I’m the fourth generation out here. Of all my cousins, and there are about 40 of us, I’m the only one with the opportunity (to farm and ranch),” Boeshans says. “I really want to make the most of it. I don’t want their legacy to go to waste.”

Boeshans, 27, farms and ranches near Beulah. He also works full time as a diesel mechanic at the Dakota Westmoreland Beulah coal mine. Coal is important in Beulah, a farm and energy town of about 3,100 in western North Dakota.

Jayme’s father, Jerome, 64, was a farmer-rancher and coal miner, too. Now retired from North American’s Coteau mine near Beulah, Jerome continues to farm and ranch with his son. They raise barley, wheat, canola and corn and operate a herd of 100 Black Angus cattle on 600 rented acres.

Jayme’s uncle, Wayne Boeshans, a semi-retired farmer, helps as well.

Jayme enjoys his work at the coal mine.

“But I’d like someday just to stay at home to farm and ranch,” he says. “If you expanded in the right way, you might have a chance. I don’t know if it’s in the cards, though.”

For now, at least, he puts all of his income from farming back into the operation and lives on his off-farm income.

Jayme grew up watching his father wear two hats. Jerome Boeshans spent 25 years as a full-time employee of a Beulah coal mine. He also raised 3,000 acres of crops and had 180 cows.

Jerome says mine supervisors were flexible when he needed time for farming and ranching. He reserved his paid vacation for planting and harvesting.

Other family members helped operate the farm, too, especially at key times such as calving, he says.

Jayme spent four years in Bismarck, before coming home when he was 23. He says he was always interested in making farming and ranching his

full-time career.

Back in Beulah, he lived with his parents for about a year, then started working on his own place.

“It (establishing his own farmstead) has been a long process and there’s still a long ways to go,” he says.

His long-term plan is to buy the farmstead where his parents live.

For Jayme, like his father before him, agriculture is both a career and a labor of love. For them, every minute invested in it is time well spent.

“Farming and ranching – that’s where I see my future,” Jayme says. “I’m going to do everything I can to make this work.”