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Gredens to host Family Night on the Farm June 27

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 07/02/2013 11:01 AM

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ALTURA, Minn. – The Gredens are getting ready for company.

Greden's Ponderosa Dairy of Altura will host the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce Family Night on the Farm from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 27.

Three families comprise Greden's Ponderosa Dairy: Larry and Nancy Greden, Brent and Polly Greden and their sons, Luke, Adam and Cole; and Ross and Vicky Greden and their children, Ethan, Josie, Lydia and Megan. Larry and Nancy are the parents of Brent and Ross. Their family also includes daughters Karie and Cami, who aren't involved in the farm operation.

The Greden farm was homesteaded in 1876. Brent and Ross's children are the sixth generation to work on the family farm.

The Gredens milk 544 cows, mostly Holsteins with a few Jersey crosses. They sell the bull calves — except for those the kids keep to show as dairy steers —- and raise their own replacement heifers, said Brent Greden.

Six employees help with the three times a day milking and three employees feed the cows and calves, do farm maintenance and care for the fresh and treated cows.

Greden's Ponderosa Dairy boasts a somatic cell count of 68,000 and a rolling herd average of 88 pounds per cow without the use of BST. Their milk is marketed to Land O'Lakes.

This marks the second time the family has hosted Family Night on the Farm, Greden said. They last hosted in 2007, when 2,000 people came out to the farm. They're hosting this year at the request of their lender, Kyle Rupprecht, at Eastwood Bank, because Ross's children are excited about hosting and because his three sons are home for the summer to help.

The host family is responsible for providing a place and parking, Greden said. They had hoped to provide parking on a hay field across the road from the farm, but winterkill killed the alfalfa. They planted grass in hopes the field will be sturdy enough to support cars come June 27.

They usually have 400 acres of alfalfa, but only 120 acres made it through winter. The good news is they got most of their 600 acres of corn planted and it was up by May 23.

Larry, Ross, Brent, Polly and their sons and one employee do the field work, including hay harvest.

They will also call some of their vendors to bring out equipment. Larry will put signs by the equipment so people know how much the equipment costs.

They will display the total mixed ration they feed to the cows and the individual feed components as well. Visitors are fascinated with the parlor, Greden said. They also show the cow brush and talk about what they do to keep their cows comfortable.

The Winona Area Chamber of Commerce makes arrangements for the other displays. The petting zoo will be located adjacent to the dairy where the Gredens have a softball field, basketball court and volleyball net. FFA members take care of the petting zoo. Members of 4-H clubs provide children's' games. Ron's Old Tyme Fun Band entertains.

Hy-Vee Foods brings the picnic meal of brats, hot dogs, baked beans and chips. The meal is $7 for adults and $4 for children age 10 and younger. There are also root beer floats. String cheese and milk are donated by area creameries.

Winona County dairy princesses Eryn Orth, Cassandra Hornberg and Chelsea Schossow will hand out dairy promotional products from the Little Red Barn. The county's junior dairy ambassadors will also be helping out at Family Night.

Attendance averages 1,500 to 1,800 people, said Della Schmidt, president of the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce. About 100 to 150 people who volunteer to make the event a success, she said.