Rebuilding from ashes
News | Published on October 28, 2021 at 12:53pm EDT | Author: Chad Koenen0
Cornerstone rebuilds dairy goat operation following Christmas Eve fire in rural Henning
By Chad Koenen
Just seven months after a fire destroyed their livelihood, on Christmas Eve, Stephen and Brittany Springer have rebuilt their goat dairy operation from the ground back up. The process on picking up the pieces, literally, was anything but an easy task for the rural Henning family. However, even in the worst of times the fire that destroyed approximately 1,000 goats, 15 peacocks and a family dog in a large fire has strengthened their faith and given them even more resilience making their sustainable farm a success.
“It’s a way of life. What do you do, you either keep farming or you do something new,” Brittany said of the decision to rebuild their goat dairy operation. “We prayed a lot and we felt like it is what God wanted us to do.”
After the fire the family began the long process of cleaning up the barn that was destroyed by the fire last year. They finally finished the clean up process in March and began rebuilding their barn and milk house and parlor. That took the better part of the spring and summer before the barn was ready for new goats to come to their rural Henning farm.
After picking up a group of goats in Wisconsin in July, the family returned to milking goats for the first time on July 28. It took some time to work out the kinks, but the operation is back up to milking about 500 goats twice a day. They currently have 900 goats and hope to be milking 800 goats by February.
One of the things Brittany was the most thankful for, in addition to the support the family received since the fire, was getting back into the routine of milking. It’s a labor of love and she was glad to get back into the swing of things this summer.
“Getting into the routine was nice,” she said.
Their suppliers were also happy to have the Springer farm back up and running this summer. Prior to the fire, the family supplied 1/12 of all of the goat milk the supplier received each year.
“We were their largest producer so all of a sudden to not have us was a big hit to them too.”Brittany Springer
While the family was able to salvage the concrete from the old barn and some of the fencing, everything else is new, including the milking parlor. The new system is automated, which allows them to quickly track how much milk each goat is producing. There is room for 60 goats to milk at a time and the barn itself is about 48 feet longer than it was before.
The construction isn’t complete yet, but just some final touches remain on the large barn. Brittany said the family is thankful for all of the support they received since the fire and are happy to be in their new barn to provide a growing need in the region.
After all, the family essentially built their sustainable farm from the ground up in 2017, and have succeeded in doing it for a second time.
For more information about Cornerstone Farms, check them out online at www.cornerstonefarmmn.com. The farm is located just east of Henning.