Ken Yeoman was born in the Lone Rock area and was raised on his family’s farm. He took his first job in the oil patch driving a Reo oil hauling truck for a man named Captain Ferrarie. He remembers that Jim Lamb was one of the pumpers that he worked with. He took a job in 1947 working on a Commonwealth Drilling service rig that was operating in the area. He remembers that one of the ‘dirty’ jobs was wiping off the drill pipe as the rig was tripping out. This is a job that is now done by stuffing box strippers.
Ken remembers one particular time that his crew was assigned to a cable tool service rig. Apparently Husky had a stagnant lease south of Battleford on ‘spinny hill’ that needed to have its surface casing set in order for the lease to be held. It was a race against time and a very challenging one. Getting to the lease required crossing many tributaries. The crew had to rebuild some bridges and manoeuvre a self-driving rig over some difficult terrain. Drilling was difficult in itself since most of the men had never worked on a cable tool rig. After the casing was completed the rig was leaving and lost its steering. Husky had to send one of their large tandem trucks to bring the rig back. Its front end was hoisted onto the back of the tandem truck and with the rig pushing and the truck towing, a convoy that included the doghouse and toolhouse attempted to leave the same way they had come. One of the bridges began to sink under the weight of the load and the support beams just barely allowed the convoy to pass before breaking. It was a tense experience for all involved.
In 1953, Ken took a job with Dakota Enterprises hauling oil from the Fargo Battery to the Husky Refinery. He also did intermittent work at the Fargo Battery. (Note: the name of this battery has changed many times over the years. It is east of Lone Rock and currently owned by Petrovera Resources)
Ken moved to Midale in 1956 and worked for the Shell Oil Company. He started as a pumper with them and soon became a foreman of the central treatment and water flood plant. Water flooding is a method of flushing oil to the surface by injecting water into the opposite side of the formation. In the Midale area, for example, there are injection wells at LSD 7 and 13 of each section. They push the oil to the surrounding wells. The oil in the Midale area is medium to light crude. Certain factors of extraction and logistics differ from the procedures of heavy crude that Ken had always known. There is no sand to worry about but in a few wells, paraffin wax was a problem. This wax builds up in tubing so there have to be scraper rods to keep it clean. Every well was connected to a pipeline in Midale, which excludes the entire transportation division that Lloydminster relies upon. A pumper in an oil field that has medium to light oil can be responsible for 100-120 wells whereas in heavy crude, the responsibilities are great enough that a pumper can have a full job with 30 to 40 wells.
Ken left Shell Oil in 1980 and moved back to Lone Rock. He worked for Murphy Oil as a battery operator at Blackfoot and then as an area foreman in Maidstone. In 1993, Ken retired and currently farms with his brother Paul.