By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hundreds of cows are settling into new homes after a fire at a century old dairy farm. The fire started in a barn that houses the milking parlor at Four Cubs Farm near Grantsburg, Wisconsin, around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

All 800 cows were in another barn and survived. The Peterson family had to find new homes for them since they can no longer be milked at the farm. The community has rallied around the family.

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It was a tough day at Four Cubs Farm.

“My in-laws drove into the farm and they saw a flame coming out of our milking parlor and they quickly ran into make sure no one was inside and no one was. Luckily it was in between milking shifts,” Nicki Peterson said.

The fourth generation Peterson family farm has been a staple in northwest Wisconsin.

“This is a 130 year old barn and the cows have been milked here every day since 1877,” Peterson said.

With little time to let the loss sink in, the Peterson family had to react. Employees milk the cows 3 times a day and they needed to find new homes. The herd was late for milking, feed and water. Peterson put out an ask on social media.

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“We had to find new homes for them so we have about 5 farms within an hour and a half that took on our cows so now we have trailers and trucks coming in left and right to take them,” Peterson said.

One by one, farmers drove trailers in to move the 800 cows, 10 by 10.

“Just being neighborly, helping out because I would hope that people would help us out if we needed it. It’s just a tragedy that anything like this ever has to happen. Farming community is always going to come together and help out each other,” farmer Hans Johnson said.

The acts of kindness in the midst of a devastating loss overwhelmed the Petersons.

“Its goosebumps really to see the community, people we don’t know, just showing up to help and they don’t know how far they’re supposed to be going even until they get here,” Peterson said.

They may have lost their livelihood for now but it has not broken their spirit.
Fire investigators are still trying to determine what started the fire.

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Peterson said it will likely take six months to rebuild a milking parlor and barn. They’re not sure just yet what this loss will mean for their 18 employees.

Jennifer Mayerle