Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, February 19, 1994, Image 20

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    A2O-L«nc«Bter Farming, Saturday, February 19, 1994
Experience Helps Dairy Farmers Recover From Fire
(ContfntMd tram Pag* At)
“We’d have been a total loss
without them,” said Laßue Simp
son of the estimated ISO neigh
bors, relatives, friends, agribusi
ness leaders, and farmers who con
verged on the farm even before the
firefighters from four local volun
teer companies had left.
At one time that day there were
so many trucks and livestock trail
ers parked around the Simpson
farm it looked like a fairground,
she said.
“It’s amazing, even what’s
going on today,” she said two days
after the fire, as neighbors dropped
off baked goods and friends
stopped by to lend a hand in the
cleanup operation or Just to offer
As two friends of the family
greeted well-wishers in the kitch
en, Laßue sat at the dining room
table, fielding telephone calls and
trying to keep a record of all the
offers of help in a notebook so she
could properly thank everyone.
But she realized there was more
going on than she was aware of.
Undoubtedly she would overlook
someone, she said.
Laßue had been in her house
about 10:40 a.m. that Saturday
when she heard a bang. Something
had gone wrong with the tractor
running a paper shredder in the
bam across the road from the
house. It wasn’t known immedi
ately exactly where the spark came
from, but the shredded newsprint
used for the cows’ bedding caught
fire and the flames spread quickly.
After sounding the alarm to 911,
Don and sons Tom and Scott
Simpson and hired hand Mike
Gahagan tried to fight the fire with
an extinguisher kept near the
shredder. But it wouldn’t work
properly. They suspect the
extremely cold weather days
before the fire may have made the
extinguisher less effective.
They abandoned their efforts to
fight the fire, and concentrated on
Two silos were threatened by the fire that leveled the
Simpson’s 98-year-old barn on their Indiana County Cen
tury Farm.
saving the 60 milking cows and
nearly 100 heifers, calves and dry
Destroyed along with the bam,
according to Simpson, was the
John Deere tractor and shredder, a
silo unloader, a gutter cleaner, a
computerized milk pipeline and
bulk milk tank, 300 bales of hay,
two tons of cattle feed, about $4OO
worth of medicine, and the cows’
breeding records and Dairy Herd
Improvement Association records.
Don was able to save the milk
ers, but not before a burning board
fell on his shoulder. Gahagan was
treated for smoke inhalation at the
scene by local ambulance service
paramedics and then was treated
and released from the Indiana
And that’s when the help started
“I don’t know where they all
came from so quickly,” Laßue
One group of volunteers started
rounding up the cattle that had
been chased from the bam. Trucks
with bales of hay arrived. A nearby
farmer brought a bulldozer to push
the still-burning debris into the
center of the fire to protect nearby
buildings. Other fanners with
livestock trailers stood by to trans
port the cows away from the fire
scene. And food and hot coffee
was sent in for the workers.
“People who aren’t even far
mers people we don’t even
know are offering to help
rebuild,” Laßue said.
‘The word just passed from
neighbor to neighbor,” said Homer
City dairyman Ed Nehrig, one of
the first farmers to arrive. When
the Simpsons decided the Hols
tems had to leave, “some of us just
look care of gelling it done,” he
Nehrig took 20 of the cows to
his farm. The 40 other Holsteins
were trucked to the Nick Patterson
farm near Blairsville, where a bam
with milking equipment was vac-
The fire Is believed to have sti
der on the barn’s second floor.
ant and available. A load Of
donated hay arrived there even
before the cows said.
The Simpsons are* making the
20-minute trip to the Patterson
farm twice a day to feed and milk,
then returning to their farm to con
tinue the fire cleanup.
Nehrig uses weigh jars to keep
track of the Simpson cows’ milk
production while they’re mixed in
with his herd.
‘The first night we die
much milk from them,” Ni
said, noting the cows had .
without food and waterpart of the
day of the fire. “But it’s amazing
how well they’readhofiilE*’ to their
new surroundings, WiSiid, espe
cially since the Simpson bam had
tie-sialls and the Nehrig farm has a
milking parlor.
Before the fire - the Simpson
farm had been shipping about
3,500 pounds of milk per day. The
day after the fire, milk production
from the dislocated cows was
about 700 pounds less still not
too bad, in Simpson’s estimation,
considering all the excitement and
disruptions his cows has been
Two days after the fire the offers
of help continued.
A dairy farmer at the opposite
end of the county volunteered
some used lumber to make tempor
ary repairs. Neighbors stopped by
to clean up more smoldering
embers and to help stretch plastic
over the end of a shed that had been
attached to the bam. The ministers
and members of Graystone Pre
sbyterian Church in Indiana
wanted to know if they could spon
sor an old-fashioned bam raising.
Chris Nehrig, another neighbor
who is an electrical contractor, was
busy the Monday after the fire
reconnecting electrical service to
the fire-damaged shed when
Marion Center dairy farmers
Richard and Wayne Black slopped
In the still-smoldering barnyard,
Simpson and Dick Black
exchanged a knowing handshake.
In 1975, the Blacks experienced a
similar setback when their bam
The Blacks offered to contribute
some wrapped hay they had, and
then the three men chatted about
how volunteers at both fires had to
work to keep the frightened and
confused cattle from running back
into their burning bams.
Simpson said he would ask for
Two silos were threatened by the fire that leveled the
Simpson’s 98-year-old barn on their Indiana County Cen
tury Farm.
advice from Black—and from the
other farmers he knows whose
bams have burned before he
starts any rebuilding plans for his
own farm.
He’s not surprised at the offers
Council Hires Food
Service Manager
CHICAGO, 111. Brenda J.
Leisy has joined the Beef Industry
Council (BIC) as manager of food
service programs.
In this position, Leisy serves as
the BIC liaison with food service
operators, distributors, purveyors,
and distributor buying groups. She
will implement all nationally de
veloped food service programs
and assist state beef councils in the
♦* 1 \
** *> 4
and help he's receiving now.
“It's just ihe nature of fanners,”
he said. “They stick together.”
“You feel like you’re leaning on
people,” Laßue said, “But that’s
what neighbors are all about.”
development of state food service
marketing programs.
Previously, Leisy was a product
manager at Pegler Sysco Food
Services Co., Lincoln, Neb. She
has also worked as a quality assur
ance technologist for the Sysco
Corporation in Kansas City, Mo.
A graduate of the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln, Leisy received
a bachelor’s in animal science.
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g a paper shred-