Tricounty News

Twin Spruce Farm showcases latest expansion



Gruenes family welcomes visitors to open house Saturday, June 14W-IMG 88682

Reprinted with permission from the Dairy Star, May 27, 2014.



Richmond, Minn. – It’s only been five years since Arnie and Kris Gruenes hosted an open house on their farm, but many changes have been made to their Twin Spruce Farm during those years.

In March 2009, open house visitors saw the family’s new power-ventilated freestall barn, misters, tile feed alley and 300-cow herd.

Now visitors to the farm’s Saturday, June 14, open house – combined with the Minnesota Holstein Association’s Field Day – will have the opportunity to see numerous changes that have been made since. The herd has expanded in stages so that it now numbers about 1,300 and will reach 1,400 by the end of fall.

There have been vast improvements made in the last four years. A holding pen and freestall area was added to the back of the old parlor in the summer of 2010, a new machine shed was built that winter, and another six-row power-ventilated barn was built – twice – in the summer of 2011.


Top Minnesota dairy farms honored for superior cow care

In honor of June Dairy Month, Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson Monday, June 2, released the annual list of top Minnesota dairy herds with low somatic cell counts (SCC). Somatic cell count is a key indicator of milk quality – a lower SCC count is better for cheese production and a longer shelf life. This year, 115 dairy farms are being recognized for superior herd management skills by achieving an average under 100,000 SCC.

For more than a decade Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and University of Minnesota dairy experts have been working with the state’s dairy farmers to lower somatic cell counts. When the initiative began in 2003, the 100 herds honored that year included those with SCC averages as high as 144,000, compared to the goal of obtaining a SCC under 100,000.


Stearns County Breakfast on the Farm June 7

The Seventh Annual Stearns County Breakfast on the Farm will be held at Funk’s Midway Dairy, owned by the Funk family, from 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, June 7.W-Funk-Family-Partners The Kimball Lions will be cooking up a hearty breakfast of pancakes, French toast, eggs, sausage, juice, coffee and milk for $5/person. Children 5 and under eat free! The event will include children’s activities, a farm animal petting tent, tours of the farm, a visit from Princess Kay of the Milky Way, an obstacle course with the Vikings Cheerleaders and live radio broadcasts with KCLD and WILD Country. Come join the many agricultural community sponsors to celebrate June Dairy Month. Bring the whole family to this agricultural awareness event and see a dairy farm in action. The event will occur rain or shine.


March 23-30: EV-W FFA Alumni celebrates National Ag. Week

The EV-W FFA Alumni is sponsoring a drawing of five $50-gift certificates at the following locations in honor of National Ag. Week March 23-30. Drawings will be done Sunday, March 30.

Slips for the drawings will be provided at Stein’s Thriftway in Watkins, and Valley Meats in Eden Valley.


Farmer’s rock leads to significant history lessons

A couple of years ago a farmer who has been around Benton County a while brought a rock to my office to see what I might be able to find out about it. MyW-DSCN0818-magnetite goal is to find answers a lot sooner than a couple of years, but I have to admit, I thought a little longer on this one. I didn’t get a name or phone number, so if it’s your rock, you’re welcome to stop by and visit again sometime.

The farmer was curious because it seemed unusually heavy for its size. If I remember correctly, the whole rock was roughly shaped like a small pillow, about a foot square and 2-3 inches thick, fairly smooth on the surface, rounded on the corners and edges, and mostly dark gray in color. I think he said he found it in the field while picking rocks one day. Rocks are a pretty common find on the glacial till soils in Benton County. He wondered whether it was unusual, like a remnant of a meteor or something else interesting. I wondered if it was bulldozed in from northern Minnesota by the glaciers.