Viroqua farm gives glimpse of small family farming

Phoebe Engh
The Torgerson family (from left) The family is pictured from left to right - Dale, Brenda, Erin, Miley, Katie - Dogs Maggie- St Berndard, Lucy - Australian Shepphard - Black.

When the sun rises on the morning of June 15, 2019, the Torgerson family will already be up and taking care of business, the way they do every day on their family farm just outside of Viroqua WI. But this day will be a little busier. You see over 2,500 people will be making a trip to their farm for the 2019 Vernon County Dairy Breakfast. People will get to take quick look into what small family farming is like, and hopefully gain a great appreciation for what farmers do every day.

The Torgerson family history starts back in 1943 when Dale’s grandfather,  Selmer Torgerson purchased the farm, Selmer passed away at the young age of 48. Dale’s father Roger then took over the farm until his passing at the young age of 55. Dale then took over and continues that family farming tradition today milking 40 cows with his wife Brenda and his three daughters:  Erin –15, Katy – 11 and Myle – 9. Each family member plays a part with daily chores and tasks of farm life.

For the Torgerson family perseverance thru painful times has been vital, the dairy farming life could have all been taking away back on February 12, 2011. Dale became very ill with Guillain-Barré syndrome. Guillain-Barré is a rare syndrome, when a person’s own immune system attacks its peripheral nervous system and causes paralysis of the entire body. Dale spent 62 days at Gundersen Health System in LaCrosse, WI and many hours in rehabilitation after returning home at Vernon Memorial Therapy Department in Viroqua. With the great support of family, friends, neighbors and community, Dale was able recover from his illness to get back to the farming life again.

The Torgerson girls are pictured (from left) Erin, Miley, Katy.

Dale and Brenda work together to support the farm during these tough economic times. Dale manages the farm, milks the cows, works in construction and runs a combining business in the fall. Brenda works two jobs off the farm, at Vernon Memorial Healthcare & Liberty Bar and Grill. Brenda fills in milking the cows for Dale during the fall harvest.

Dale and Brenda’s daughters help on the farm also. Erin is a tried and true farm girl; she cuts hay, moves round bales & feeds calves. Her off the farm activities include FFA, 4H, showing cattle at the Vernon County Fair & gymnastics. Katy likes to help inside the home, like her Dad says “she is a girl that lives on a farm, not a farm girl,” but she does help pick rock and mows the yard. Myle loves to tie up the cows, and go on Kubota rides.

The Torgerson farm also has some cows that have had their “15 minutes of fame”. Back in 2017 a rare birth of triplet heifer calves was born. Wilma, Pebbles and Betty are still healthy and are expected to be giving birth to their first calves soon. The rare cows will be on display at the 2019 Dairy Breakfast.

With farming a daily financial struggle, hosting a Dairy Breakfast could be a financially stressful event but with the help of the Vernon County Dairy Promotion Committee and local businesses, friends and family it is sure to be a success and fun for all.

The farm is located at E8003 Upper Maple Dale Rd. Viroqua. Breakfast will be served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. with a grill cheese cook off at 11:15 a.m. Scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausage, milk, coffee, cheese and ice cream will be served, with the option of a steak breakfast.

There will be lots of fun activities for the whole family including a farm themed petting zoo, mercantile store and local education booths. Cost is $6 for adults, $2 for kids – 10 and under and $10 for a Steak Breakfast. In the evening there will be a June Dairy Day’s Dance at the farm featuring High Mileage Band.