South Dakota’s bib overall king dies

On the Minnesota-South Dakota border, Trygve Trooien was something of a legend as the bachelor farmer. And a bit of a curiosity.

His bib overall fashion shows owe their existence — if you believe South Dakota legend — to Trooien stockpiling overalls when he noticed fewer people were wearing them and fewer still selling them.

His pal — and ours — Steve Hemmingsen, of Hendricks, Minn., says the Astoria, S.D. farmer “was once the smallest dairy farmer in the county, then the biggest dairy farmer in the county and then the only dairy farmer in the county, all with no changes on his part.”

Steve writes to let us know that Mr. Trooien died yesterday.

I don’t think most people appreciated the emotions involved when the daily dairy grind just became too much for his heart and he had to ring down the curtain on 109 years of continous dairying in his barn on the home place south of Astoria.

I once told him, during one of our many runs to Sioux Falls or Watertown, that I suspected that was a pretty emotional moment. He admitted it was. Right up until his death, he was anticipating this spring’s imminant calf crop from the small stock herd he kept, mostly for old time’s sake, I think. He was also looking forward to spring planting on his remaining acres (he had “farmed out” a good deal of it) with his collection of old Farmalls. Not many cabs around his place. Just calves and cats, though a lot of them scattered with the dairy herd.

Reminds me of the story when, years ago, it was barn cleaning time. Tryg told one of his hired hands to round up the cats so they didn’t get backed over. A while later, the man came back with a five gallon bucket. Tryg asked: “How many do you have there?” The hired man answered: “About half a bucketful.”
On another of our “doctoring” trips he was reminicsing about a long-ago bachelor party that got pretty wild. Tryg rounded out the account with: “I know for a fact that the party resulted in one marriage and….at least two divorces.”

Tryg was married to farming, particularly the home place. I asked him if he had ever considered any other occupation. Tryg…who was Vietnam era, a paymaster “in country” which involved flying the pay envelopes to wherever the troops were…to my surprise said he kind of liked the military and could have done that for a while. But his dad couldn’t handle the farm anymore, so it was back to the farm. In reflecting on his answer, I got to thinking “this makes sense.” Tryg likes things in rows, nice and orderly. The military might have suited him.

He liked to plant his corn himself. His machinery is mostly neatly lined up next to the township road that serves as his driveway, where he would watch herds, I mean multiple herds of 20 or 30 deer, grazing on his bale stacks, up on top of the stacks like the Hartford logo. Most farmers get all worked up over that. It didn’t seem to bother Trygve. He said his cows ate it even though the deer marked their territory first.

Except for a few years when he was in the Army, he told Dairy Star in 2011, he lived his entire life in the same house.

As for the bibs, he had a favorite saying. “Once the pliers pocket wears out, they’re only good for pajamas!”