By John Lauritsen

CHATFIELD, Minn. (WCCO) — Southeastern Minnesota was the perfect place to build a dairy farm that would pass down through the generations, but three months ago, it was a different story on the Hoffman Farm.

You might remember when snow piled up thanks to a March storm. It caused barn roofs to collapse at farms across the state.

Hoffman Farms near Chatfield was hit as hard, losing a barn and 13 cows to the weight of snow.

“I don’t know if this is God telling us to find a new career or what,” said Corey Hoffman March 6.

Since 2000, more than 60,000 family run dairy farms have closed across the state — and nobody would have blamed the Hoffman Family if they would have followed suit.

“I am 36-years-old and it’s the hardest thing I’ve been through,” Hoffman said.

Snow kept piling on, leading to a series of roof collapses that killed more than a dozen of Hoffman’s dairy cows, and forced him to sell the rest.

“When we sold the cows it was like, ‘Are we making the right decision?’ Their welfare was our top priority. Obviously with the third and fourth collapse, we made the right decision,” Hoffman said.

But the decision to keep the 116-year-old dairy farm in operation was up in the air. For months, the Hoffman’s weren’t sure what they would do until their insurance company finally told them they could replace everything that was lost.

They are now hoping to start rebuilding in July, and with a little luck, they’ll be finished by November. The plan is to have about 750 dairy cows when all is said and done.

The memories of that brutal week are everywhere on the farm, but the sun now shines on the future. Despite what they’ve been through, the Hoffman’s consider themselves lucky.

“I’ve never experienced anything like that. We’ve got our health. Nobody died. That’s the number one thing,” Hoffman said.

The Hoffman’s say a silver lining is that their new barn will have better, state of the art ventilation for their dairy cows.

John Lauritsen