December 13, 2022 at 7:23 p.m.

Opening doors for the sixth generation

Opening doors for the sixth generation
Opening doors for the sixth generation

By Tiffany Klaphake- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Welle farm dates back to 1873

The countryside of Stearns County is scattered with barns. From old to new, small to big, each barn carries a story.

On one dairy farm near Spring Hill, Travis Welle milks 85 cows in the family’s old red barn built in 1904.

Travis is the sixth generation of Welles to continue the family’s dairy farm. This year, Travis and his wife, Daisha, stepped in to continue the legacy.

Now, Travis is also readying to raise the seventh generation on the farm as he and Daisha are expecting their first child, due Dec. 24.

“It’s exciting to me, now that we are expecting a child of our own, to raise a family with the same lifestyle that both Travis and I grew up with,” Daisha said.

While the original farm consisted of 220 acres managed with a horse and plow, Travis and his dad, James “Chico,” now farm 620 acres. The tie-stall barn has had upgrades throughout its life, including new shingles, siding and remodeling. A shed built by Chico’s grandfather continues to be used today, and a restored Oliver 1555 of Travis’ grandfather rests at the farm.

The Welle family can trace their ancestry to the 1870s when Christopher Welle left Germany to settle in the United States. Christopher began the farm in 1873. The farm was then passed to his son, Hubert, who passed the farm to his son, Henry. From Henry, the farm transferred to his son, James, Sr., who in turn handed the farm to his son, Chico.

“(The history) is interesting to know,” Chico said.

Travis and Daisha’s story continues to weave into the Welle family’s farm story.

The couple met in 2016 at a country music festival in Wisconsin and were married in 2021.

Daisha grew up on a dairy farm near Brooten and said she never intended to marry a dairy farmer. She said she understood the long hours and the 365-day work schedule. But then, she met Travis.

The young couple agreed they want to work side by side and raise a family by instilling the same values and work ethic their parents instilled in them.

Travis gets up at 4 a.m. every day to drive half a mile to the farm to start feeding the cows. Daisha comes over at 5 a.m., and together, they take care of milking.

“I feel like we work pretty well together,” Daisha said.

Travis and Daisha agreed their favorite part of dairy farming is seeing the calves being born, watching them grow and seeing them come into the barn to be milked.

“I like working with the cattle,” Travis said. “And, I like milking.”

The family has a three-year plan, at which time Travis and Daisha will move into the house on the farm, and Chico and Travis’ mom, Kathy, will move to a house nearby.

Though Travis and Daisha milk the cows and start the morning chores, Chico feeds the cows every morning.

“I can’t sleep in,” Chico said.

Chico grew up milking 58 cows in the barn every day before and after school. He began the task as a teenager, aided by his uncle, after his father fell off a roof and was injured, leaving him unable to continue milking.

James, Sr., had remodeled the barn to add 12 stalls to make it a 65-stall barn.

Right before his father retired, he gave Chico words of advice.

“Dad told me it’s OK to buy new equipment, but make sure your bills are paid first,” Chico said. “Once you fall behind on bills, it’s hard to catch back up.”

Chico took the farm over from his parents Oct. 31, 1991, which was the night of the Halloween blizzard.

“We bought it from Dad, then that night, we got three feet of snow,” Chico said.

That was not the only hurdle the Welles had to overcome.

Less than one year later, Chico was outside working with his dad when they smelled smoke. Soon after, Chico noticed sparks flying out of the barn door. He ran to the barn to call 911, but the call would not go through. He sent his 6-year-old son to the house to call 911, and again, the call would not go through. A neighbor saw the smoke, called 911 and headed over with a fire extinguisher. They were able to control the fire until the fire department showed up and quickly put the fire out.

“For some odd reason, I had taken all the hay out of that corner of the barn already,” Chico said.

The cows were on pasture for the day and all survived, but every animal that was pregnant lost its calf due to smoke inhalation.

“We got lucky that day,” Chico said.

All four of Chico and Kathy’s children – Kurt, Chris, Travis and Derek – were involved on the farm when they were growing up.

Out of all the boys, Travis always seemed to understand the cows best, Chico said.

“When he was young, he always knew the cattle,” Chico said.

Daisha said Travis can look at a cow and know who she is.

After high school, Travis was not sure he wanted to return to the farm right away and instead attended Alexandria Technical and Community College to study diesel mechanics. While in college, Travis got a job at Greenwald Farm Center, and after graduating, he decided to return to the home dairy.

“I missed the farm life while I was going to school,” Travis said.

Daisha said they talk often about their future.

“We both have visions for the farm and like to bounce ideas off each other,” she said.


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