GREENVILLE, Pa. — The Pennsylvania dairy family that lost their herd of 120 Holstein dairy cattle in a barn fire Aug. 2 continues to recover, although the future of their milking operation is still being decided.
The Miklos family, of Mercer County, Pennsylvania, is still adding up the damage and trying to figure out what they’ll do with the rest of this year’s hay harvest.
Tammy Miklos told Farm and Dairy Aug. 14 that they are still baling hay and planning to put as much as 4,000-5,000 bales in a second barn, located at a second farm. They lost between 14,000-16,000 square bales in the fire, along with their entire dairy herd of 120-plus Holstein cattle.
They also lost multiple pieces of farm equipment, including two tractors, a skid loader, an elevator, spreader, feed grinder and two silage wagons. She also said six of seven roofs at the main farm will need to be replaced because of damage from the fire or its heat.
The extent of the damage prompted some Farm and Dairy readers to ask about sending donations, and the address for those wishing to donate is 1163 Darien Road, Greenville, Pa. 16125. Checks should be made payable to Rick and Tammy Miklos, or to the farm’s name, Amazing Grace Dairy.
Tammy Miklos said they are not actively seeking funding, but they appreciate people’s desire to help.
One of her horses, a Quarter Horse stallion, came down with bronchitis, but she expects him to be OK. Saddles and other tack were destroyed. About 22 head of steers in a separate barn were unharmed.
She said her insurance company determined the cause to be lightning-related. A storm passed through the area the same night as the fire, and there were signs of lightning damage, including some blackness behind one of the electrical boxes.
She was not sure if a bolt of lightning hit the barn directly, but there definitely appeared to be a power surge, followed by a power outage.
Assessing the damage
The total damage figure is still being calculated. She was told the cost to rebuild the original barn, a tie-stall setup that dates back to at least the 1960s, would be $800,000. The Miklos had renovated the barn various times and had a new electrical system installed, with temperature control and air ventilation.
Although tie-stall barns are less common today, the Miklos liked that setup because they said it resulted in gentler, cleaner cows that could be led around the barn as needed. Their herd was a past Dairy of Distinction recipient.
Tammy said she could have released 45-50 head of cows in one minute, or the whole herd in about three minutes, but on the night of the fire, the heat was so intense the family couldn’t even enter the barn.
She again thanked the first responders, as well as “the outpouring of neighbors, friends and family, and people who don’t even know us. It’s kept us going.”