By LeAnn R. Ralph
PRAIRIE FARM — If it hadn’t been for an accident at a copper mine in Michigan in the late 1800s, Marv Prestrud and his family might not be hosting the Dunn County Dairy Breakfast May 20.
Marv Prestrud’s great-grandfather, Hans Prestrud, was an immigrant from Norway who ended up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, working in the copper mines.
“Somehow he got caught in a cave-in. He got out alive, but he said, ‘I’m not ever going back down there again. I’m not risking it,’” Prestrud said.
[emember_protected] Prestrud Dairy, N14255 190th Street, Prairie Farm, has been in the family since 1901.
After the copper mines, Prestrud’s great-grandfather ended up as a lumber grader in St. Paul, and from there, the family moved to this area.
“They earned a lot of their living selling firewood in places in Glenwood City, Clear Lake and Prairie Farm. Clear Lake and Glenwood City were two of their big markets for firewood. And that’s how they earned their living until they started milking cows and doing other farming,” Prestrud said.
Marv and Mary Prestrud have been married for 46 years. They have five children and 14 grandchildren, and they operate Prestrud Dairy with their son, Chad, and his family.
Hans’ youngest son, Burdith, took ownership of the home farm in the last 1940s. Marv and Mary began farming with 18 cows on his Uncle Henry’s farm.
In 1973, Marv and Mary moved to the farm and rented until 1977, when they purchased the farm from Marv’s mother after his father passed away.
The home farm has been in continuous family ownership since 1901, and Prestrud says he believes the family has been milking cows since at least 1924, although there is no record of when the family actually started milking cows.
The original barn was built in 1924 and had stalls for 25 cows. The remaining 30 feet in the barn was used for horses and other farm animals, he said.
Since then, additions to the barn have been built in 1979, 1999, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2015 and 2016.
Today, Prestrud Dairy milks a few more than 500 cows.
“We are really focused on cows. We don’t do any more crop work than we need to. We own a little over 600 acres, and with what we rent, we’ve got about 650 acres tillable. That grows all the forage for the milking cows and some for the heifers. The rest we buy,” Prestrud said, noting that cow comfort is of the utmost importance.
Six farm employees do the milking.
During the last barn expansion, Prestrud Dairy added more manure storage.
“Everything is really well contained here. Any water, any manure, is all contained in the manure system. The silage pads — any water that falls on them is collected and goes into our manure storage,” Prestrud said.
“We are really happy to be in the position we’re at. The (dairy) economy is pretty difficult right now, but that’s the nature of the business. It’s up, and it’s down. We’ve been fortunate to find a way to survive all along,” he said.
Milk from Prestrud Dairy is shipped to Saputo where it is made into hard Italian cheeses.
Saputo Cheese USA is located in Almena, and Saputo Dairy Foods is located in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. The company has locations in Canada, too, as well as in Argentina and Australia.
Marv Prestrud serves as chair in the Town of New Haven, and he is the president of the Dunn County Farm Bureau. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Lakeland Cooperative, which is in the process of merging with Cedar Country Cooperative and United Ag Cooperative. He will serve on the new Board of Directors for the new cooperative as well. He is active in his church, too, and he still enjoys traveling.
Marv Prestrud went to Nicaragua last year and plans to go again this summer. He may also possibly travel to El Salvador this fall.
“I’m able to get so much done because I’ve got a great wife who helps me. Mary helps me an incredible amount with helping me stay organized,” Prestrud said.
Mary Prestrud also is quite involved with the farm and her community.
“She does a lot of the bookwork here, and she maintains a busy schedule too. She does the books here, books for the food pantry and for our church. We are both very involved,” he said.
“I love where I live … I got to go to Argentina because of the Wisconsin Leadership Program. We had a place where we met with some people and had a mixer. We were supposed to ask each other questions. One of the questions was, ‘if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?’ My answer was real simple. I would go home. Not that I don’t enjoy traveling. But there is no place like home. This is a beautiful place to be. The people here are good people,” Prestrud said.
“I remember the first we farmed, we had a little pasture a ways from the barn. We came home from someplace, and there was a thunderstorm brewing. I went out, and there was a heifer having a little trouble calving, so I helped her out. And I carried that calf home in a rainstorm all the way. It was one of those memorable moments. I thought, ‘there’s just something really good about this lifestyle.’ The heifer followed me all the way home, pushing on my back with her head. I was young, and it was hot, and I didn’t have a shirt on — and who cared if you get wet,” Prestrud said.
The 24th Annual Dunn County Dairy Promotion Breakfast at Prestrud Dairy on Saturday, May 20, runs from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The cost of the dairy breakfast is $6 per person, and children five and under are free. The breakfast includes all-you-can-eat Dad’s Belgian Waffles, sausage, cheese curds, pudding snacks, ice cream, milk and coffee.
Activities at the dairy breakfast will include a bake sale, an antique Model T and tractor display, petting zoo, tractor-driven wagon tours of the farm. Door prizes also will be given away.
The Dunn County Dairy Promotion Committee was formed to help give the general public a better understanding of dairy farming and to allow community members time to spend a few hours on a farm.
Prestrud Dairy is located just off county Highway V in the Town of New Haven.
If you are coming from the south, take state Highway 25 to state Highway 64 and then turn west on Highway 64. Turn north on county Highway V (just east of Connorsville) for four miles, turn west onto 190th Street, and Prestrud Dairy will be on the left.
If you are coming from the north, travel south on state Highway 25 to Ridgeland, then turn west onto Main Street, which becomes County Road V. Then turn west onto 190th Street.
Watch for signs along the road, and when you reach Prestrud Dairy, follow the signs for parking.
For more information about the dairy breakfast, visit the Dunn County Dairy Promotion Breakfast’s Facebook page, or contact committee member Katie Wantoch by e-mail: email@example.com or the Dunn County UW-Extension Office at 715-232-1636. [/emember_protected]