December 22, 2022 at 3:10 p.m.

Growing the team

Pungs’ connection bolsters family dynamic
Amber and Jeremiah Pung hold their daughter Eden Dec. 15 at their dairy farm near Freeport, Minnesota. Amber and Jeremiah met at Ridgewater College while pursuing degrees in dairy management. PHOTO BY TIFFANY KLAPHAKE
Amber and Jeremiah Pung hold their daughter Eden Dec. 15 at their dairy farm near Freeport, Minnesota. Amber and Jeremiah met at Ridgewater College while pursuing degrees in dairy management. PHOTO BY TIFFANY KLAPHAKE

By Tiffany [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

FREEPORT, Minn. – Jeremiah and Amber Pung met in college, and now nine years later, they are farming together and finding fulfillment in working with animals.
“(Amber) knows the hours it takes to dairy farm,” Jeremiah said.
Jeremiah and Amber, along with Jeremiah’s father, Duane, and brother, Josh, milk 160 cows in a swing-10 parlor and farm 600 acres on their farm near Freeport.
The couple met as students while attending Ridgewater College in Willmar and formed a relationship after they graduated. The two have taken their respective skills to bolster Jeremiah’s family farm and contribute to the success of Pung Dairy.
Jeremiah is the herd manager at Pung Dairy, while Josh does all the feeding and uses his welding degree in their shop to complete most of the repairs himself. Amber helps when needed with everything from milking cows to cleaning pens to driving skid loaders.
“I can be taught to run anything,” Amber said. “I jump in where needed.”
The senior Pung does most of the fieldwork, including all the tillage and chopping. However, Duane was in a car accident in 2003, which paralyzed him from the waist down.
“We have made modifications to the tractors so Dad can drive them,” Jeremiah said. “We built a lift for my dad so that he could drive tractors and the skid loader.”
Shortly after the accident, Duane drew up sketches of a system so he would be able to continue farming. The plans were brought to Jerry Mayers of Mayers  Repair in Farming.
Mayers brought Duane’s plans to life. Jeremiah and Josh have made a few modifications since then to adapt to their needs.     
The Pungs have an electric lift that is hydraulic and on wheels so it can be moved around the yard or brought to the field where needed. There is a sling that goes under Duane, who is then lifted up and placed into whichever cab he needs to go into.
All of the Pungs’ tractors have been modified to be hand controlled.
Duane can operate skid loaders and tractors to the same degree as any other farmer.
Jeremiah works alongside his father and brother, which comes as no surprise because he decided early on the dairy farm life was for him.
“I knew since I was 4 years old that I wanted to dairy farm,” Jeremiah said. “It’s my whole life; it’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”
Amber grew up on a dairy farm near Brooten. Unlike Jeremiah, Amber had no intentions of returning to the family farm after she left for college.
“Originally, I wanted to be a large animal vet,” Amber said.
Jeremiah studied dairy management as part of the school’s two-year program. He wanted to obtain a degree in a short amount of time and return home to the farm so Josh could also attend college.
“It worked out so he was home when I went to college, and I could come home so he could go to college,” Jeremiah said.
 Amber studied dairy science at Ridgewater College after a semester at Bemidji State University and a semester at University of Minnesota-Crookston, taking classes in biology and animal science.
Amber concluded college was not for her and started working for a neighboring dairy farm. By then, her parents had sold their cows.
Once Jeremiah graduated, he formed a partnership with his dad.
“The farm business management classes were definitely beneficial to have,” Jeremiah said.
Josh attended Alexandria Technical and Community College for welding and had intentions of working for the railroad, but while attending college, he realized he missed the farm. After he graduated, Josh came home to farm, and the partnership became a trio.
Jeremiah and Amber started dating in summer of 2017. Jeremiah said he liked that Amber had a dairy background.
The couple said they make a good team in life and on the farm.
“He is the opposite of me; he is so easy going, and I can be a little high strung,” Amber said. “We help balance each other out.”
They became engaged in 2019 and were married in 2020. Their daughter, Eden, was born in September.    
With Duane leading the way, Jeremiah and Josh, with Amber right alongside them, are making sure they, as the third generation of Pungs, keep the farm thriving for the fourth generation.


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