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Pine Island family marks century milestone in dairy farming (video)

Pine Island family marks century milestone in dairy farming (video)
Josephine Sauder of Pine Island has some fun Saturday at the 100-year celebration and appreciation breakfast held Saturday at the Alberts farm in Pine Island.

PINE ISLAND — In all her shimmering, bovine glory, a grand champion cow named Pine-Shelter Cheyenne drew admiring looks from visitors on Friday and Saturday as a family with deep roots in local agriculture marked a milestone.

Cheyenne, a plump Holstein who won top prize for her breed at the World Dairy Expo in 2003, was on display as the Alberts family celebrated 100 years at its "home farm," an 80-acre plot that over the years has grown into the 2,000-acre Pine Shelter Farms operation.

Gratitude was the top priority for the Alberts family, who on Friday served a steak dinner for its business partners and on Saturday served a waffle breakfast for neighbors.


The family showcased their operation for dairy experts, too, hosting the Minnesota Holstein Association's annual field day on Friday afternoon.

Generations of Albertses gathered at the farm for Saturday's breakfast, laughing and smiling as they swapped stories about growing up on the farm—the haystack that burned years ago, mile-long walks to school, washing milk cans, and the years without indoor plumbing.

"All of us have a pretty strong sense of the history of the family," said Madge Alberts, who married into the family but can readily narrate its story going back 157 years, when the Alberts' forebears started farming in southern Goodhue County.

Today the farm is split into two milking operations, one with 75 cows at the century farm and another one mile away with 500 cows.

Land between the two milking operations is used to grow corn, alfalfa, and oats, most of which the family uses to feed its cattle.

The cattle themselves are closely linked to the farm's history, all descending from four cows purchased in 1919.

Those descendants include Cheyenne, whose victory at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., was the only time a Minnesota cow has been named grand champion in the prestigious competition, according to Madge Alberts.

"We have a lot of her offspring here," she said.


The Albertses are looking to the future as Cheyenne nears her 12th birthday.

Three Alberts family grandchildren showed novices at the Olmsted County Fair this year, Madge Alberts is proud to report.

"They're keeping up the tradition," she said with a laugh.

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