August 30, 2021 at 12:34 p.m.

Dairy Profile: The Torgerson family

The Torgerson family
Dale (pictured) and Brenda, daughters Erin, Katy and Myle
Viroqua, Wisconsin
Vernon County
40 cows

How did you get into farming? This is Dale’s family farm; we purchased it from his mother a few years after his father’s passing.

What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? The small family farm, that’s my concern. I pray and hope we can stay afloat. We are a family farm. We still believe in it. If the small dairy farm goes away, you will lose your rural communities also.

What is the latest technology you implemented on your farm and the purpose for it? We purchased our own used chopper and boxes this last year to help us keep our cost down instead of hiring this work to be done. It has proven to be beneficial for us so far. No, it’s not a new technology, but to us it is.  

What is a management practice you changed in the past year that has benefited you? We have two areas of management we have been focusing on. Our daughter, Erin, has started handling the raising of calves more and choosing the bulls for certain cows at breeding time. This gives a different view to both of these areas. The calves get more attention and a variety of bulls are chosen. She enjoys having these management tasks on her plate.  

What cost-saving steps have you implemented during the low milk price? We try to handle things more on our own at the farm versus hiring it done. We have to be more self-sufficient in order to keep the costs down. If something is broke and we can manage fixing it, Dale gets it fixed on his own.

How do you retain a good working relationship with your employees? Employees? That’s our daughters. They are our help. We have three, and they help with putting cows in, cutting hay, baling, hauling, moving heifers and pretty much everything else. We all get along. We’re family.

Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. Dale has the skills to fix just about anything. He repairs his own machinery when needed, which helps a lot when you are farming. He is a wonderful father and husband. To me as a wife, that is the best skill ever.

What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? It’s our life. I work off the farm, but this is our life. We are raising our girls the right way. I love the smell of fresh cut hay, a newborn calf, watching crops grow, walking through the fields, and being able to get lost in our farm anytime I want. Life is truly beautiful here, and to us, it’s the best way to raise a family.

What advice would you give other dairy farmers? Have faith, stay strong and true to yourself, and never give up. It’s a struggle, but you have to know that struggle is everywhere. When you succeed, it is all because of you. When you are done at the end of the day, it is you that did it. Be proud to carry on the dairy farm life. Not everyone gets this wonderful chance to live it.

What has been the best purchase you have ever made on your farm? Dale would say two things: his father’s very first tractor, a 1130 Massey Ferguson, and the skidloader. Dale bought the tractor and restored it years after his dad had sold it and passed on. This makes the day on the farm feel like his dad is there with him. The skidloader is a back-saver, a make-life-easier machine. Chores would be a lot harder without that tool in his daily farming life.

What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? Buying the family farm. Also, the accomplishment of working hard and finally becoming an organic dairy farm three years ago.

What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? Keep moving along in farming, day by day, hoping for success all around, learning more each day and having our family working together.

How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? Well that’s a tough one. Time isn’t free, I know that. Dale likes to golf. Erin milks 100 cows off the farm for a very nice family, and she loves to go fishing and spend time with her boyfriend. Katy and Myle love to jump on the trampoline, draw and go fishing. I love to be home with my family. With two jobs off the farm, we don’t get too many days where we are all around. Vacation doesn’t happen here. You make that choice when you choose to run your own farm, but we wouldn’t change a thing.


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