Haubenschild left mark on agribusiness

When Don and Myrtle Haubenschild loaded up their truck and moved from Ellendale to Princeton, it was not only a life-changing experience for the young Haubenschild family — but for rural Princeton, too.

Little did Don and Myrtle know that when that 1927 Cannonball truck pulled up to the 128-acre homestead and house with one wire for an electric light, that the farm would someday be generating electricity and powering not only the farm, but its neighbors. Nor did they know that the one Jersey calf they brought with them from Ellendale would be the start of the Haubenschild Farm.

Don Haubenschild passed away Thursday, July 26 at the age of 87 — 60 years after he and Myrtle made that fateful trip from Ellendale to rural Princeton.

Today Don’s former farm has grown to a 1,000-cow agribusiness run by Don’s son Dennis and grandsons Tom and Bryan. The farm has more than 1,000 Holstein dairy cows, most of which are being milked. The milking is on a 24-hour schedule with shifts and produces 6,000 gallons each 18-20 hours.

Don Haubenschild not only put his farm on the map as being an innovator, but put Princeton on the agricultural map because the area is home to Haubenschild farms.

After retiring in 1982, Donald told his son Dennis that he could get more out of the farm’s manure than just placing it directly onto the farm fields for fertilizer.

Since then, the Haubenschild farm has become notable for producing electricity from a methane digester whose ingredient is cow manure and has received both federal funding and national recognition for its electricity-producing efforts — something Dennis Haubenschild credits his father for being the visionary.

In November 2011, Sen. Al Franken visited the Haubenschild farm. At that time, Dennis Haubenschild said that his manure to electricity setup really started with Donald Haubenschild many years ago.

Fast-forward to 2012.

Today the methane is collected, made more pure and then used to power an engine that turns an electrical generator. It produces 120 KW per hour, enough electricity to run the Haubenschild farm and 60 homes during the winter. There is only enough electricity to power just the farm during the summer because the farm’s electrical demand is so much higher then for the needed air conditioning.

Don had five children: Dennis, James, Gordon, Diane and Joan. He had 18 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren.