NEW HORIZON FARM
The Lundberg centennial farm began with the purchase of 80 acres by Ella Matson in 1887. This parcel was part of 160 acres obtained by Phillip Pitts from the United States government under the Homestead Act of 1862 and formally approved by President Ulysses S. Grant. These 80 acres of the larger acreage changed hands four times before being sold to Ella Matson, great-grandmother of one of the current owners, Ralph Lundberg. Ella and Peter Matson were living on a farm in Oceana County when this 80 acre farm became available for a price of $1150. Peter began clearing the land and building a house that year.
In the following years, the land was cleared and seven children were born. Ownership of the farm passed from Peter’s son Arthur and on to his nephew Lawrence Lundberg. Lawrence and his wife Doris then sold the land to a partnership formed by their three sons, Ralph, Brian and Peter in 1984, the fourth generation. Peter left the partnership and was replaced by Ralph’s son-in-law Chris Hiltz.
The farm has grown to 880 acres and the dairy herd has increased from six cows and one bull given to Lawrence by his mother Mary Lundberg in 1948 to 300 cows and 250 replacement heifers in 2004. The farm supports this herd by raising 550 acres of corn and 450 acres of alfalfa with some wheat and soybeans also raised each year. As seen here the alfalfa is cut three times each year into 16 foot windrows to facilitate dry down to 50-60% moisture level, then chopped and packed either into upright silos or into large plastic bags (Ag Bags) to exclude oxygen and create fermentation. Corn is harvested by chopping it as silage, or high moisture corn is put into silos or dry corn is sold as a cash crop. It takes more than 4,000 tons of feed and 30,000 bushels of corn to keep this herd of dairy cows happy. Happy cows give a lot of milk: more than 800,000 gallons are produced each year.
The process of producing enough feed and taking care of 120 new caves requires long hours of work and the ability to learn and adapt but because of the advancement of specialized machinery, the physical labor has been greatly reduced over time. But this new machinery doesn’t come cheap. The 16’ 106 horsepower discbine seen here cutting alfalfa costs $140,000, the merger that combines several windrows of hay into one costs about $52,000, the self-unloading wagons go for$10,000 each, the self-propelled 450 horsepower forage harvester or chopper would cost about $250,000 in 2014 and the rotary milking parlor represented a $750,000 investment in 1998.
Most dairy farms are a family affair, a way of life, and a great source of joy and pride when passed on to the next generation. This farm’s genealogy started in the 1870’s with two Swedish immigrants coming to the United States, meeting, and getting married; then buying 80 acres of good farm land, starting a family who together would become good stewards of the land.