Community Rallies to Find Homes for 800 Cows After Parlor Fire

A fire wiped out a parlor on a century old farm in Wisconsin, but it also served as a reminder of how rural communities rally around one another when tragedy strikes.

On Nov. 1, at 11:03 am the Burnett County Dispatch received a call from Cris Peterson co-owner of Four Cubs Farm that the dairy’s parlor was on fire.

Local fire departments arrived at the dairy two miles east of Grantsburg, Wisconsin, soon after the emergency call. The milk parlor was engulfed by flames and looks to be a total loss. Fortunately, no people or cattle were in the parlor as the next milking shift had not started.

A portion of the double-16 parlor was housed in a barn that was original to the farm started in 1877 by the Peterson family. The relatively new parlor was added to the farm in 2011.  

Not long after the fire the Peterson family made a plea for help from their neighboring dairy community asking for a places to house and milk their 800 cows. They asked for aid via Facebook and sharing their phone numbers with local news outlets.


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By 8:20 pm they had just 100 cows left in the free stall barn. People called from five hours away offering help, all while a snow storm was making conditions difficult.


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Later in the evening around midnight Four Cubs Farm shared on their Facebook page, “Our barns are empty! Thank you!!! If you know someone headed our way let them know they don’t need to come.”

Cows left the farm by stock trailers in loads of about 10, meaning about 80 trailer loads of cows left the farm.

Not only will the Peterson family be impacted by the fire, but also their 18 employees. A GoFundMe page was started by Nicki Peterson seeking donations to give aid to their employees who will be without a job for the foreseeable future.

“More than anything, we want to rebuild fast so that we don't have to lay anyone off and can put our amazing employees back to work ASAP,” Nicki says.

At the end of the GoFundMe request Nicki thanks those who helped them in their time of need.

“We have had amazing community support, support of local farmers taking care of our cows temporarily and numerous people who lined up with trucks and trailers to haul the cows to those farms. We are incredibly thankful and humbled,” Nicki says.

This is the first day since 1895 that no cows were milked on the dairy.

In one of their the most recent social media post shared by the farm, the family held a meeting to determine their next steps.


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