RICHMOND, Cache County For many teachers, summer is a time to put their feet up and relax. For Kevin Forsgren, it's a time to wake up at the crack of dawn and spend hours keeping his 150 acres of crops watered.
Forsgren, a math teacher and assistant principal at White Pine Middle School, is one of several teachers at the school who spend their summers and part of the school year farming.
Though the work may be tiring physically, it rejuvenates him in other ways.
"By the end of the school year, you start to get kind of loaded down with the pressure of teaching," he said. "When you have a summer and you start up again, you're rarin' to go again."
A Richmond native, Forsgren has been teaching 20 years and farming even longer. Years ago, he said, most of the teachers in the area farmed during the summers, but only a few are left who do so now. When he first started teaching, he kept dairy cows. With classes starting at 7:30 a.m., the day starts early for anyone who works at or attends White Pine, but working with the cows took earliness to a new level. He had to wake up at 3 a.m. to milk before going to teach.
Forsgren said he has never struggled to wake up early for his farming, except when he had to milk the cows.
After about a year of dairy cows, he raised heifers for about 10 years, followed by beef cattle. This year he's growing alfalfa, hay and safflower. He pays someone else to cut and harvest the crops, which leaves him the duties of preparing the land, planting and watering. On a typical summer day, Forsgren wakes up at 6 a.m. and spends about three hours moving pipes on the fields. He returns to the fields at around 4 or 5 p.m. to move pipes again. Most of the farming work is done in the summer, though it also overlaps the beginning and end of the school year. During the school year, he plans his day so that most of his farm work will take place after school, he said.
Forsgren said being a farmer and a teacher has been good for his four daughters. He has had his three oldest daughters in his classes, and his youngest daughter will be in his class next year. Each of the girls has also helped him in the fields over the years, he said. "It's a good way to raise kids," he said.
Teaching, farming and raising a family takes plenty of time and energy, but Forsgren doesn't regret it.
"I guess it's just the way I was raised. It's just what I do," he said.