VIROQUA, Wis. — When the sun rises on the morning of June 15, 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.
But this particular June 15 will be a little busier. More than 2,500 people will be making a trip to the farm for the 2019 Vernon County Dairy Breakfast. People will be able to take a quick look into what small family farming is like. And hopefully they will gain an appreciation for what farmers do every day.
The Torgerson family history started in 1943 when Dale Torgerson’s grandfather, Selmer Torgerson, purchased the farm. Selmer Torgerson passed away at the young age of 48. Dale Torgerson’s father, Roger Torgerson, then took over the farm until his passing at the young age of 55.
Dale Torgerson is continuing that family-farming tradition. He milks 40 cows with his wife, Brenda Torgerson, and his three daughters — Erin, 15, Katy, 11, and Myle, 9. Each family member plays a part in the daily chores and tasks of farm life.
For the Torgerson family perseverance through painful times has been vital. The dairy-farming life could have all been taken away Feb. 12, 2011. Dale Torgerson became ill with the rare Guillain-Barré syndrome. His own immune system was attacking his peripheral nervous system, causing paralysis of the entire body. Torgerson spent 62 days at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He then spent time in rehabilitation at the Vernon Memorial Therapy Department after returning home to Viroqua.
With the support of family, friends, neighbors and the community, he was able to recover from his illness and return to the farming life.
Dale and Brenda Torgerson work together to support the farm during the current difficult economic times. Dale Torgerson manages the farm, milks the cows, works in construction and runs a combining business in the fall. Brenda Torgerson works two jobs off the farm — at Vernon Memorial Healthcare and the Liberty Bar and Grill. She milks the cows for her husband during the fall harvest.
The couple’s daughters help on the farm as well. Erin is a tried-and-true farm girl; she cuts hay, moves round bales and feeds calves. Her off-the-farm activities include FFA, 4-H, showing cattle at the Vernon County Fair and gymnastics.
Katy likes to help inside the home.
“She is a girl that lives on a farm, not a farm girl,” her dad said.
But she does help pick rock and she mows the yard.
Myle loves to tie up the cows and go on Kubota rides.
The Torgerson farm is home to some cows that have had their “15 minutes of fame.” A rare birth of triplet heifer calves happend in 2017. 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 the family will have help from the Vernon County Dairy Promotion Committee as well as local businesses, friends and family.