It doesn’t get more authentically Hoosier than literally living on the banks of the Wabash, and that’s exactly where the Foergs and Forgeys live and farm near Logansport. River-View Farm is the seventeenth farm in our “30 Dairies in 30 Days” blog series — check back every day during June Dairy Month to learn about a new Indiana farm.
Here’s a few words from the farm family and scroll down to the bottom for Helen Forgey’s recipe for a delicious and hearty potato soup!
by Dave Forgey
I was raised on my family dairy farm and attended Purdue Winter Short Course and returned to the family farm in March 1962.
I purchased my grandfather’s share of the cows and machinery and began farming in partnership with my parents. At that time we were milking about 60 cows in a four stall side open parlor. I had learned of free stalls and developed an old loose housing barn into our first free stall barn in the summer of 1962.
My wife Helen, a dairy farmers daughter from Ohio, and I were married in 1966 and grandfather sold us his 111 acre farm in 1968. Our son, Brad, was born that year. We built our first bunker silo that summer and added a mixer wagon that we found in a Nebraska feed lot.
In 1969, an adjoining 105 acres came up for sale and we added it to the farm. Our daughter, Kim, was born in 1970. In 1973, we added space to a very small home which had been large enough for my grandparents but not for our growing family. By 1976, our herd had grown to 120 cows and we built a double six herringbone milking parlor (there are six stalls on each side of a lower pit area, the farmer stands in the pit and can milk 12 cows at a time) and added a second free stall barn and a second bunker silo for haylage.
In 1979, an additional 130 adjoining acres was for sale and we added it to our operation. My father also decided to retire that year and we purchased his half of the cows and machinery but not his land. We also found it necessary to add an employee to our farm so we weren’t doing all the milking every day. In 1981, we added an additional 35 acres to our farm. All that growth in 19 years had put a big financial burden on our backs.
In 1986, our son was leaving for Purdue which took away a lot of very good labor and in 1988 our daughter followed so we added a second employee. In 1991, Scott Foerg came to us right out of high school with a non-farm background and filled that second employee position.
That spring I attended a meeting in Illinois and learned about rotational grazing. Since our land was all adjoining and we grew high quality grass-legumes forages we decided to attempt the grazing concept for our dairy.
Our daughter Kim returned to the farm from Purdue, but within a year a husband drew her away again. It soon became just Helen, Scott and I doing all the work and things were getting simpler to manage. By 1993 we had converted the entire farm to pasture and hay and in 1995 Scott married Darla to start his family.
Financial burdens began melting away with our lower cost grazing system. We continued to grow our herd with our own replacements and began using totally New Zealand Friesian genetics on our Holstein herd.
By 1996, it was evident our children weren’t returning to the farm and Scott wanted to begin owning something. We sold him 30 pregnant heifers to allow him to begin building a herd of his own and we leased them back. In 1999 we allowed him to take more management in the operation and he became a sharemilker getting a percentage of the gross milk sales and paying a portion of the expenses. This allowed Helen and I to operate the farm with fewer milking obligations after nearly 40 years of milking cows. Scott and Darla’s daughter Allison was born in 2000.
In 2005, we made the decision to make Scott a full partner in the operation and operate as a landlord -tenant farm . Helen and my goal was to continue to work on the farm but allow Scott full management of the farm. That same year a nearby 150 acre farm came up for sale. Through some financial planning we were able to assist Scott so he could purchase that farm. It became a great place to raise our young stock and allowed us to continue to grow our milking herd. In 2008 we replaced our old milking parlor with a new swing 36 parlor to allow for rapid milking. This spring we will freshen over 300 cows and continue to operate as a rotational grazing dairy with pasture being our major feed for the herd. Helen and I are both still involved in the farm but we also spend a lot of time with outside interests away from the farm. Scott has two full time employees.