November 26, 2009

USA: Dedicated farmer Leo Borland named senior farmer of the year

. HARRISON, Arkansas / Harrison Daily Times / November 26, 2009 By Jeff Dezort, Newton County Times COMPTON - Leo and his wife, Etta (Petree) Borland of Compton grew up in the area and raised their family here. Their children are the fifth generation of the family tree rooted in these hills. They have been productive citizens and sparkplugs in their community. Mr. Borland said he has always been and will always will be a farmer. It may be for this dedication that representatives of the county’s numerous farm service agencies named him Newton County’s Senior Farmer of the Year. Mr. Borland was born at Hilltop on Nov. 11, 1931. His parents were Robert and Neva Borland and he was the second of five sons. Their’s were a farm family. They raised cattle, harvested hay and grew tomatoes that were sold to a local canning factory. They marketed their cream and eggs in Harrison. Leo Borland enjoys painting. He and wife Etta especially like the landscape of Steel Creek on Buffalo National River. Times photo/Jeff Dezort He attended the Hilltop School in his primary years and then attended Harrison High School. But he said most of his practical education was gained while working at a Kansas wheat farm for four summers. He and friend and neighbor Arlis Conner worked on that farm and lived with its owner Jim Buresh who passed away last winter. “We worked hard, but learned good values,” Mr. Borland said. Instead of finishing high school, Mr. Borland said he enlisted with the U.S. Navy. He served four years, 1950-1954. He was first deployed to the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands where the U.S. conducted nuclear weapons tests. On April 23, 1952, while home on leave, he married Etta. They had grown up together. She joined her husband in Tacoma, Wash., where Mr. Borland was stationed the last two years of his tour of duty. Then they returned home. They already had part of their farm when they were married and they obtained the rest of the 120 acres in 1955. Mr. Borland went to barbers school on the GI Bill and in 1957 began cutting hair in Harrison, an occupation he continues part-time at his shop on West Rush Avenue. The Borlands first milked cows, but switched over to beef cattle which are not as time-demanding. It allowed them both to work off the farm. Mrs. Borland has worked 41 years for the Harness Shoe Corporation in Harrison and continues to work at Harness Boots and Shoes on North Willow Street, just around the corner from her husband’s barber shop. They have three children. The oldest is Anita Jackson who works for Community First Bank’s branch office in Branson, Mo. Dr. Annette Holeyfield is a department head at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville. Their son, Dale, is retired from the Arkansas Highway Police and now works as fleet manager for J.B. Hunt the trucking firm at Lowell. The Borlands also have two grandsons, three granddaughters and two great-grandsons. Mr. Borland said he always had a passion for farming. He said he likes to be outdoors with his cattle and running farm machinery. Mrs. Borland said that her husband’s most favorite form of entertainment is sitting on an overturned feed bucket and watching his cows eat. Mr. Borland said he keeps up with the latest farm technology. He noted that he was one of the first farmers in the area to obtain a pesticide application permit from the state Plant Board. “And I was one of the first farmers audited, too,” he laughed. “I used to talk to former Boone County Agent Bobby Malone whenever he sat in my barber’s chair. I also keep Jack Boles (Newton County agent) busy.” When the kids were growing up they were involved in 4-H and showed horses, Mrs. Borland said. “They kept us pretty busy,” Mr. Borland added, noting there wasn’t time for vacations. Mr. Borland said he “fooled” with horses all his life, but today he keeps about 20 head of Limousin and Limousin cross cattle which he rotationally grazes. He annually cuts about 200 round bales of Bermuda hay off of 25 acres. “I never saw an August as wet as this year’s,” he commented. Many farmers weren’t able to take advantage of multiple cuttings because it was too wet to get into their fields. There is also the ongoing task of cleaning up after last January’s ice storm. Broken tree limbs continue to fall and repeatedly have to be moved off of fences. Mr. Borland has a woodworking shop and he enjoys painting pictures. The Borland’s livingroom and dining room are galleries with his works on the walls. Most of the pictures are of local historic landmark buildings, barns and homes including one of the cabin Mrs. Borland was raised in. “Most of the pictures have a story behind them,” Mrs. Borland said. She said she likes to sew and read. Compton is a rural community and Mr. Borland worked to get telephone service extended to the area. Tri County Telephone connected the area to Harrison. In 1979, Mr. Borland was a member of the original Compton Water Assoc-iation Board. The system initially served 140 customers. Today it has 375. The system is aging and older water lines are going to have to be replaced. The current board is relying on original maps and project drawings. Most of those first board members are gone, now. Luckily, Mr. Borland kept copies of several of those early documents. “He never throws anything away,” Mrs. Borland frowned. That remark only made her husband smile. [rc] Copyright © 2009 Harrison Daily Times.