A Family Farm Legacy Built to Last
They say in Iowa, “If you build it, they will come.”
That’s exactly what happened in 2004. Someone commented to Dave Erger from Brandon, Iowa, that it must take a really big frying pan to feed the entire town during its annual Cowboy Breakfast Festival. So a pan was built and now hundreds of tourists annually make a roadside stop for a photo opportunity.
“My dad, along with several other local farmers, met in Dad’s shop,” says Andy, who is the fourth generation to own and operate his family’s farm in eastern Iowa. “It was supposed to be more of a joke, but before they knew it, it had become a pretty big deal.” Iowa’s largest frying pan is an impressive nine feet wide and 14 feet long, including the handle. The skillet could fry 44 dozen eggs or 88 pounds of bacon.
Farmers are known for rising to any challenge, whether it’s fabricating a giant frying pan or surviving a global pandemic. Unfortunately, Dave Erger faced a health challenge in 2014 that became life changing. He suffered a heart attack that resulted from Lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes one’s body to attack itself. Lupus has made farming more difficult for Dave. As a result, Andy has accepted more responsibility in recent years. That’s why in the spring of 2021 Dave and his wife, Teresa Erger, approached Andy and his wife, Jamee, about purchasing the farm.
“Jamee and I have spent countless hours crunching numbers. We met with our bankers, FSA consultants, and tax advisors. We were relieved when we received confirmation in April that our loans had been approved,” says Andy. “Keeping my family farm running and thriving has always been a dream of mine. I get to share my dream with my wife and our children.”
Andy and Jamee are the proud parents of four daughters and one son: Kayleigh, Amiliah, Davennah and Rosaleigh and Gilbert (Gib), who was named after Andy’s great grandfather.
With Andy taking on more of the farming responsibilities in addition to his custom hay baling business, Jamee is learning all the ropes of becoming primarily responsible for their Latham® seed dealership, Erger Seeds. Andy became a Latham® Seeds dealer in 2014 because he knew the extra income would help support his family.
“Latham products have worked great on our farm, so I wanted to share it with others around me,” says Andy. “Our dealership also has provided opportunities to create new friendships.”
Andy and Jamee are very much business partners. In addition to helping Andy with the farm and seed dealership, Jamee runs a Revital U business and helps their daughters with an egg business.
“Our home-based businesses allow us to show our kids how the world works and how much work it takes to be successful in the things you care about,” says Jamee. “Having chickens has helped teach the girls responsibility by managing money and taking care of animals. They also help care for three horses, many cats and dogs.”
The Erger family in spring 2021 started a Labrador Retriever breeding business called North of the River Family Labs. Their dogs are fully AKC registered, Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) certified, and Embark genetic tested.
They work and play hard, too. They make time for family fun like boating, camping, horseback riding, four-wheeling, visiting parks or zoos or roasting s’mores over a bonfire. The Erger family also makes time to exercise together.
“It’s good to teach our kids about self care,” says Jamee, who like her mother-in-law, is committed to exercise and eating a balanced diet.
“We only get one life to live, so we want to make sure we live it to its fullest,” says Andy. “We love the life of farming and we always put our full attention to anything we care about whether it’s taking care of our family, farm, pets or seed customers. We understand the blood, sweat and tears that are shed by generations of family farms, so we want to help our customers and neighbors be successful.
Andy adds, “It’s nice to be part of a family-owned seed company that was founded in Iowa. The Lathams strive to treat their dealers like family, and in turn, we strive to treat our farmer-customers like family.”
One way they show their customers how much they appreciate them is by delivering homemade cookies and bars during the spring planting and fall harvest seasons. Jamee also enjoys taking meals to the fields for her family during baling hay, and harvest.
“I feed em’ and leave em’,” says Jamee. “It’s important to me to make sure that the guys get a decent meal to help keep them going.”
Today Jamee is sharing with us her favorite cookie recipe, which is a perfect complement to her homemade ice cream. Enjoy June Dairy Month and July Ice Cream Month!
Mini Monster Cookies
Recipe by Jamee Erger
- 3 eggs.
- 1/2 C margarine
- 1 C brown sugar
- 1 C sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 1/2 C peanut butter
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 4 3/4 C oatmeal
- 3/4 lb. mini baking M&M's
- 1/2 bag chocolate chips
Mix together eggs, margarine, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla. Add peanut butter, baking soda and oatmeal. Stir in M&M's and chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.
Homemade Ice Cream
- 4 tbsp vanilla
- 5 eggs
- 2 1/2 C sugar
- 3 pts half and half
- 2% milk
Whisk eggs really well, then add half and half, mix together. Add sugar, mix well. Add vanilla, mix well. Then add 2% milk until I reach the fill line of the ice cream container and whisk once again until all is blended well together.
For the ice cream bucket, you’ll need ice and rock salt while it spins. The ice cream will thicken as it gets close to being done and the bucket will usually stop spinning once it’s done.