Spooky View Farm Fire | Here in New England
Here’s what happened next: Everyone, it seemed, wanted to help. Farmers from Pembroke, Bedford, and Contoocook delivered hay. One farmer dropped off more than $2,000 worth of it. All the local stores sprouted donation cans and people filled them up. Keith continued to wake at 4 each morning to drive to the Yeatons’ to do the milking and to soothe his cows while emerging from his own shock. “I didn’t know I was going to rebuild,” Keith says. But it was as though everyone willed him to. He designed a new barn in his head, one that would let the cows have more freedom to roam and mingle. People brought supplies, lent their expertise and muscle. A local company brought a crane and put up rafters. A neighbor came by with a loader and another with gravel to level the land. “People just came to help from everywhere,” Ruth says. Slowly the new barn took shape on the land.
For a year and a half, the family missed their cows, as if they, too, were family. “We didn’t hear mooing,” Sarah says. “It was eerie.” Ruth remembers how unsettling it became not to smell manure. “And I always used to hear the chains rattle and the milking machine pump go on and off. So quiet. It wasn’t the same.”
Then last winter, on February 11, 2006, the first truckload of cows left the Yeaton farm to come home to their new barn. “We were so happy,” Ruth says. “We opened the gate and they came running.” They put a sign out front: “Cows Are Home.” If you go by the farm today, you’ll see Keith and Charles on the go from 5 in the morning until past 7 at night. The same chores every day, the days that Keith vows will stretch to months and years, a life that few can understand unless it’s in their blood — and if it’s in their blood, they know better than anyone that there are some fires that never burn out.