Barn fire: A wound too fresh to begin to heal


In this life, we have to stand stronger than the winds that blow.

It goes without saying that none of us could stand strong without an unyielding yoke holding us steady through life’s storms. No man could sustain heartache and loss without an unquestioning faith and the steadying compassion of others. It is this that helps us look forward.

After the fire that leveled our historic barn and all of the animals in it, we have received an incredible outpouring of kindness and support of neighbors and friends. One mental picture that will stay in my memory forever is that of Amish and English working side-by-side in sub-zero temperatures to help us begin the hard and heavy job of clean-up.

Our Amish neighbors brought their team of Draft horses, sensible and steady, which they used to pull out charred metal stalls. It was amazing to watch those horses do the work right alongside a skid steer on tracks brought in by English neighbors, to push and pull and get the necessary work accomplished.

This unyielding winter, with its high winds, bitter cold, ice and snow, has certainly not helped. The bleak landscape, so stark in its emptiness, serves as a sharp reminder of what is missing each time we look out our north windows to check on the barn and the pastures, a habit impossible to break. The smoldering continues, the sharp scent a bitter pill to swallow each time we step outside. The tranquil place that we so treasured has been erased by the thing that everyone who has ever loved an old barn fears the most, the raging monster of flames.

There are worse things, we know, and there is much to be grateful for. We could have lost every building on the farm. A friend said that, in losing the barn, it is committed to the ages, held forever in a special place. Once sacred to someone, this barn is forever sacred to us. Every photo, every memory, is held even more dear than before.

In time, our days will become normal and once again filled with projects. For now, returning home to the farm each day feels as though a wound has again been torn open. We don’t know what to do with ourselves, with that part of us that wants to pull on boots and head to the barn. It is still hard to grasp this loss.

For some, wealth is measured in dollars in the bank; on an otherwise dark day, our wealth is measured in friends, supportive and caring and true.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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