Out Of The Ashes

Happy Easter! Today I'm thinking about my family's farm, in part because it was an AmAzInG place to hunt Easter eggs as a child.  Here's an aerial view that my brother Mark took in 1999. See the first-floor window of the house on the right? That was my mom's sewing room and my piano room!

Wayside Dairy Farm, family owned and operated since 1880
My brother Paul and his family live there now, though it looks a little different. Look at the cluster of barns just behind the silo on the right (sure wish my IT team were here to make a cute little arrow for me!). Well, the workshop, office, and milking parlor along with the 1880 timber barn burned to the ground in a devastating fire in 2001, so all that's left there now is a part of the barn's stone wall foundation to mark what was.

This was a difficult headline to digest!
Though the headline hit home hard that day, the next sentence spoke of the community's character in spades:  Hundreds of volunteers help Natzke family rescue dairy herd. 
They made a human fence to help guide the traumatized cows to shelter at the farm next door. That was a day we'll never forget, one of huge heartache buffered by the helpers that gave us the hope to heal; 
in the words of singer and songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman
"out of the ashes . . . beauty will rise." 
The decision was made to rebuild, and on June 6, 2003, we hosted a Breakfast on the Farm to showcase our new barns.

Thousands of people came to celebrate a new beginning!
See the silo trio in the top righthand corner, the same silo cluster from the aerial picture? Along with the 100-footer next to them, they used to sufficiently house the hay and corn silage for our 500 cows. For the past ten years, they've been the backdrop for our annual cousins picture:

Well, things change. Empty for years, the silos have been replaced by bunkers (again, an arrow would be nice -- you can see one bunker in the aerial picture, top middle, kind of looks like a shed without a roof or a door). That's what we had to do to keep up as our herd increased to 1500-plus. So this week, the old obsolete silos came down so that a new barn can be built where they once stood. The concrete from those 80-foot stately structures will be used in its foundation. Even though I haven't lived on that farm for thirty years, it was difficult to watch the video footage of those iconic markers from my childhood falling to the ground in a huge pile of dust and debris. And yet, out of the ashes . . . beauty will rise,  
a poignant parallel to the essence of Easter!


  1. Happy Easter!
    Thanks for sharing this story. We are rebuilding my husband's family cottage. It was hard to say good bye to the old place last summer. My husband cried; a rarity but we knew that on that spot new memories would be created which would be just as dear to us.

  2. The image of a human chain guiding your precious cows to safety had me all choked up.
    Loved your post.
    Happy Easter, Barbara!

    Grade ONEderful


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