History of The Ferdinand E. Grenz Farm
  Ferdinand Grenz

Grenz farm near Verdi earns Century Farm distinction

By Steven Swenson

Ralph and Uda Grenz still live on the family farm that was purchased in 1906 by Ralph's grandfather just northwest of Verdi in Verdi Township. This year the Grenzes are being recognized, along with others in Minnesota, by the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Farm Bureau, for having a Century Farm. Qualifying farms have been in continuous family ownership for at least 100 years.

Ralph, in his early 80's, doesn't actively farm anymore but his son, William, has taken over operation of their 320-acre farm. He does however, still help out some watching over the stock cows and calves while William is at his full-time job in town. Both Ralph and Uda expressed hope that William will be able to take over the farm.

The Grenzes will be married 51 years next month. Uda was born and raised in Germany and moved to the United States with her family in 1948. Uda said she took her first off the farm job after 25 years of marriage and has continue since. Currently she works at Daktronics in Brookings starting her 13th year next month. When their three children were young she helped out on the farm with baling and some field cultivation. "It was cheaper to hire a babysitter than to hire someone to do the work," said Uda.

Ralph has lived on the farmstead all his life; in fact he was born in the farmhouse. He grew up helping on the farm along with his two brothers and three sisters. "My main job when I was growing up was to operate the cream separator. At the time they milked 33 cows," said Ralph.

The Grenzes raise corn, oats, beans and hay. The oats are used for the cattle.

The farm was originally purchased by Ralph's grandfather F.E. Grenz in July 1906 and then purchased by Edward J. Grenz, Ralph's father. Ralph then bought it from his father.

When F.E. Grenz first bought the farm, all the buildings were down in the pasture, and moved about 1/8 mile to a more level area.

In 1918 a tornado went through the farm taking everything but the house. The buildings were rebuilt but then in June 2001 another tornado struck the farm. This time the tornado took the cattle shed, granary that had two machine sheds attached and half of the hog barn was left standing. Uda commented that the next day about 60 people came out to help clean up the debris. She added that they are still finding stuff.

Following this tornado they rebuilt the tin cattle shed and built a steel bin for grain.
Over the years there have been some hard times but this hasn't stopped the Grenzes from continuing farming as a way of life.
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