This winter hasn’t been an easy one for many states in the East, but for one Pennsylvania dairy, the tragedy of a collapsed barn roof was overshadowed by the support of friends, family, community and fellow dairymen.

According to Lancaster Farming, over 36-hour period in mid-February, a nor’ester dropped 18 inches of snow followed by several inches of rain and an additional six inches of rain across parts of Pennsylvania. This proved too much of several barns to handle, leading to collapsed roofs at many of the state’s dairies.  

Among those reporting collapsed roofs were Marilyn and Duane Hershey of Ar Joy Farms in Cochranville, Pa. The couple was awakened by employees in the early morning hours and informed that the roof of their 60-by-276 foot freestall barn had collapsed under the load of the snow, trapping around 20 cows. Read the initial report here.  

“It was pretty traumatic,” Hershey explained to the Dairyspot. “You go up there and see that, it’s like ‘what do we do now?’ What steps do we need to take? It’s in the middle of the night. The snow is blowing. People can’t get through in the roads. We just stopped what we were doing and said a prayer. We needed wisdom. We need to know what step to take next.”

Staff and the surrounding community jumped into action, and within four days the trusses and tin were back on the roof.

“We were humbled by other farmers giving up day after day. One farmer was here just about every day,” Hershey said tearfully.

In the end, around a dozen of the trapped cows had to euthanize. However, considering there were more than 600 in the barn when the roof collapsed, Hershey was “blessed that the statistics weren’t worse.”

 “We are never promised that we’re going to have a rosy time. We’re never promised that we’re going to have days when everything goes well. But we have each other to help us get through.”

Click here or the embedded video above to see the full interview with Hersey.