ADAMS — Broadlawn Farm is well on its way to completing its comeback after a September 2018 fire claimed a barn and a bull, as well as all the farm's winter feed.
After the fire, many in the community stepped up and donated more than $90,000 and volunteer time to help the cleanup and rebuilding effort. They helped keep the farm running during the aftermath, as well.
The blaze took out the L-shaped barn used to house the farm's feeder and cattle, and Broadlawn lost all its hay in storage to use as feed during the upcoming winter months. That left them with some hard choices in the short term: They needed to decide how to shelter the 275 dairy cows when winter rolled in. They also had to replace the winter feed supply.
When the fire broke out, first-responding police officers and family members ran into the burning barn and chased out the cows that were lounging inside. The bull had been in a stable closer to the source of the fire, so he couldn't be saved.
It took about four days to clean up the debris, said Mark Ziemba, one of the family members who owns and operates Broadlawn. The farm contracted with Sheds N Stuff to build a small barn, so it had some shelter for the cattle during the winter. When winter ended, a second attached barn was built to the first. Now, they are building a newer version of the biggest space that was lost.
But even with the new shelter, some of the older, infirm cattle — about 50 — had to be auctioned off, as they likely wouldn't have made it through the winter.
But here they are on the other side, with the final barn going up and 150 head of healthy cattle.
Ziemba said a GoFundMe campaign raised $75,000 in donations, and a spaghetti dinner at the Bounti-Fare Restaurant raised an additional $15,000. In addition to the cleanup, volunteers helped to harvest the corn crop, which was due for harvesting during the same time period as the fire.
"If it wasn't for all the help, we wouldn't be here today," Ziemba said. "It is amazing how much they did to help us."
Farmers in the region donated a combined 800 bales of hay for the winter feed that was lost.
"That was a savior right there," Ziemba said.
Still to come is repairing the milking shed, which was scalded badly during the fire but is standing and functional. They will need to replace some siding, the roof and much of the interior, Ziemba noted.
"It's coming along, slowly but surely," Ziemba said. "One thing is for sure, we're in a lot better shape now than we were all winter."
Scott Stafford can be reached at email@example.com or 413-629-4517.