Blaze destroys 100-year-old N.Y. dairy farm

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fighting fire Fire tore through a New York dairy, killing dozens of cows and calves and ending a family-run dairy farm’s legacy that had survived for more than a century.

The fire was reported on Sunday night at a Franklin, N.Y., dairy by co-owner Renea Halstead Boning. Her husband, Arthur Boning, and a family friend quickly attempted to rescue the livestock while waiting for firefighters to arrive, according to a report from the Oneota (N.Y) Daily Star.

Franklin Fire Chief Thomas Worden reported that an orange glow from the fire could be seen as far as six miles away, noting that he “knew it wasn’t going to be good.”

It took crews five hours to extinguish the flames, which was still smoldering as of Monday afternoon.

Charred barn following New York dairy fireThe Daily Star Among the 50 firefighters used to put out the blaze, several also assisted in removing the surviving cows. There were only minutes to save livestock as the advanced fire overtook the barn.

Despite their efforts, just 15 cows were able to be saved, including several with burns. Up to 20 cows and eight calves were killed by the fire. Some of the rescued cows were found to be suffering from smoke inhalation and were picked up on Monday to be sold at auction as beef cattle.

The Boning family has announced that their century-old family-run dairy operation would not be rebuilt.

"Life goes on," Halstead Boning told the Daily Star. 'We'll pick up, and we'll go on."

The fire is still under investigation.

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sacramento, ca  |  August, 08, 2012 at 10:14 AM

that's so sad. i feel doubly sorry for the cows suffering from smoke inhalation who weren't humanely euthanized but instead forced to endure their injuries through the stress of travel and an auction then more travel. :(

Manchester  |  August, 08, 2012 at 11:27 AM

I agree. Seems like the money was more important than the comfort and well being of the cows.

San Diego  |  August, 08, 2012 at 10:24 AM

Sorry, very, very sad for the animals. But, I am highly suspicious, especially since this 100 YEAR OLD FARM WILL NOT BE REBUILT!!! Life goes on. We'll pick up and go on! Yea, I wonder just how much insurance money this will net.

Tina Marie    
Trumansburg, NY  |  August, 08, 2012 at 11:30 AM

First, to the family that has suffered the loss of generations of hard work, your animals, your livelihood and things that just cant be replaced I am so sorry for your loss. Then to our first two comments.... Really, do you even have a clue, what has happened to this poor family? Your jugdemental comments are what is wrong here. Several factors should be considered before you blab. Dont you think that these people were sick to HAVE to send their cows to sale due to the circumstances. Do you have any idea the cost to have a vet euthanize a dairy cow? What good would it do? These animals were bred and raised to provide these farmers with income (and you with milk , cheese and meat, I might add) These people just lost everything that the last 3-4 generations of their family built. As for the insurance comment, as a person whom lost there home to a fire (and no I did not burn down my own home) I can assure you that the insurance in no way provides the means to rebuild as it was, you have no business judging their situation or making criminal accusations.

Annonymous Dairy Farmer    
Oxford, NY  |  August, 08, 2012 at 12:04 PM

When you folks who wrote comments about the cows want to work 16 hour days with never a vacation, or a day off, only to get paid about 50 cents a day to make sure you know it alls get fed, you will understand what is happening. You cant eauthanize a frigging cow on the farm. You would need a backhoe to bury it first of all, and there are laws prohibiting that due to disease. The cow has 2 choices, get shot in the head and ride the rendering truck costing the farmer $40, or go to the auction, get sent for beef, and end up at Cargill in PA to be processed for beef. Beef pays the farmer more, and after thier loss, I guess it's a kick in the butt to send your best cows because they got smoke inhallation. Furthermore, who would want to rebuild the farm when they pay you $13.24/100 pounds of milk. They have probably been loosing money all year. Next time you animal rights guys want to boo hoo, get all the fact first. I think you are pretty narrow minded, and would never be able to do our job without whining. I hope you all starve.

Amsterdam  |  August, 08, 2012 at 04:48 PM

It's very clear you have no idea how difficult it is for the family dairy farm. Why would anyone choose to rebuild when there is very little money to be made for the family farm. There are reasons why there are fewer farms today than just a few years ago. Costs of fuel, feed, ect continue to rise year after year while the price of milk continues to remain stagnant. It's difficult to read comments by those who have little idea of the continued struggle small farmers face year after year...... My thoughts and prayers are with the family......

cherry hill, nj  |  August, 09, 2012 at 09:40 AM

Very sad, they die brutally, no matter what. But, tell me why would anyone think that a dairy farm cares about the well being of cows?

Frank Van Althuis    
Chenango NY  |  August, 09, 2012 at 10:21 AM

What a bunch of clueless people the nay sayers of cow treatment are. Sad really. Grease on the down hill track our country is running on. Short version. Without care there is no success. Longer version won't do any good to the aggressively ignorant anyway.

Laura Gilbert    
August, 09, 2012 at 02:44 PM

apparently you have not been lucky enough to be acquainted with farmers or seen something as devastating as a barn fire with your livley hood being destroyed before your very eyes and there is nothing to be done about it. Knowing what is happening to the very animals you have worked with and for every day is so so so very heartbreaking..

Ellington, NY  |  August, 09, 2012 at 02:53 PM

What a cruel and igorant thing to say Without comfort and well being of cows, it is very hard to even make ends meet. Don't you think that human lives were at risk trying to get cows out of the inferno? Farming is not a hobby, it is a way of life. This kind of thinking makes me so very angry when we, farmers, are feeding this country the cheapest and safest way in the world. You have a problem with farming, ust wait until milk, meat packging comes with Made In China!!!

August, 09, 2012 at 05:16 PM

The great tragedy is people expect very cheap food, with no consideration for the livelihood of the farmers, or how on extremely small margins less resources are available for the livestock. I choose a plant based diet based on concern for animal welfare, but I find it frustrating to hear others assigning blame on hard working farmers who in many cases are doing the best anyone could do on such a limited budget. Grass-fed, cage- free meat options exist.. organic pasture raised dairy is also an option...but it costs more money to produce... and I'm sure farmers would love to raise their livestock in that manner, but the real problem is the market for that is not large enough. Americans buy the cheapest option, so farmers are just meeting that demand. I feel deeply sorry for the cows who lost their life, and my sympathies to the family for their loss.

Leon Corse    
Whitingham, VT  |  August, 09, 2012 at 07:19 PM

As a dairy farmer I can tell you any farmer who doesn't care about the well being of their cows has a real uphill struggle, they are the source of our livelihood and how well they are cared for has a huge affect on our income stream and consequently our survival as a dairy farm. We had barn fire in 2007 which destroyed our milking facility but fortunately all our animals were saved. The stress of deciding what to do (rebuild or go out of business) is incredible and something that can only be fully understood by someone who has experienced it. In addition if animals are saved there is the immediate issue of how do you feed and milk them in the short term while you decide how to go forward. Five years later we are glad we decided to rebuild and carry on a 140+ year old family business. At the time the decision was very difficult however. I would suggest this is a situation where the old adage "Don't criticize your neighbor until you have walked a mile in his moccasins" would be good advice!


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