Farmers helping farmers following St. Albans fire

Published: Feb. 19, 2022 at 8:01 PM EST
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PANTON, Vt. (WCAX) - An early morning fire tore through the milk parlor at Bess View Farm in St. Albans Friday, displacing nearly 800 cows.

“Extensive damage. This is the lifeline of their farm,” Chief Harold Cross, of the St. Albans Town Fire Department said. “The milk house is where they milk their cows.”

Within hours, farmers in the surrounding area and throughout the state, stepped in to support the owners.

“We started drying off some animals, getting everything situated,” Megan Vorsteveld said. “Moving cows around trying to make some room and then the loads just started coming.”

Megan and her father Rudy Vorsteveld, and their crew, agreed to give some of the cows a temporary home in their farm’s barn. So, the cows made the nearly 60-mile journey from St. Albans to Panton.

“They need to get milked. It just brought the whole team together,” Rudy Vorsteveld, Owner of Vorsteveld Farm said. “We’re all doing different projects and adding more work to it. Working together, and you just take care of them like your own.”

Other farms are also taking in a few hundred cows. Vermont’s Agriculture Secretary, Anson Tebbetts, says wherever the rest of the herd ends up, the animals are in good hands.

“Our dairy division has been working to make sure that some of the other farms that some of these cows went to, got fit up. Making sure that the equipment was running well and it was inspected so the milk could be sold. So, that process is underway and there could be more in the coming days.”

After roughly 24-hours, more than 150 cows are settling in. The Vorstevelds’ say it’s about farmers helping farmers.

“It already makes me feel pretty good being able to wake up every day and raise my calves and keep them alive, and help these ladies out. Doing this for someone else’s animals makes me feel pretty good,” Megan said.

“They’re all just calm, laid down, just chewing cud,” Rudy said. “They’re all quiet and content. Pretty quick in just 24-hours.”

With more than 1,500 cows of their own, the days are going to be longer at Vorsteveld Farm. But they say, it’s all worth it.

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