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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.

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Mel Allen


Mel Allen


Mel is the fifth editor of Yankee Magazine since its beginning in 1935. His career at Yankee spans more than three decades, during which he has edited and written for every section of the magazine, including home, food, and travel. In his pursuit of stories, he has raced a sled dog team, crawled into the dens of black bears, fished with the legendary Ted Williams, picked potatoes in Aroostook County, and stood beneath a battleship before it was launched. Mel teaches magazine writing at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and is author of A Coach’s Letter to His Son. His column, “Here in New England,” is a 2012 National City and Regional Magazine Awards Finalist for the category Column.

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2 Responses to Spooky View Farm Fire | Here in New England

  1. Dick Young December 26, 2007 at 6:58 pm #

    This is unbeliveable, literaly. How can nobody be suspicious? It’s a little odd that the son had just finished paying for the farm and planned on moving the farm and magically the farm goes up in flames? Sounds like insurance fraud to me. How could they get all the cows out and get everything out of the house in time. 1 cow dies out of the whole herd. Sounds like this whole community has been duped. Maybe, it wasn’t looked into by an insurance investigator because of the small community.

  2. Andrew Walton January 22, 2008 at 2:23 pm #

    Hi,Dick Young
    How many years have you been an investigator? Just to let you know I was at the farm and helped with the hay on the day in question, placing it onto the elevator. How can you make the statement above? I personally know this family and how hard they work. ( I know they all work harder than you unless you own a farm I hope that’s not the case) with no knowledge of the days events you dare make that statement above. Please tell me your not a member of the NHLI ( when you get the chance Goggle that ) Just FYI I was an insurance investigator for 15 years and traveled all over New England and saw and dealt with all kinds of fraud. Also you will never find a statement that Keith was going to move the farm. Please in the future don’t make these kind of statements..Thank you…

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