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After fire destroyed this young Henning family's livelihood, they put on their boots and rebuilt the farm

The Springer family of Stephen, Brittany and their six children lost their barn and livelihood in a Christmas Eve fire.

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In the rebuilt barn, co-owner of Cornerstone Farm Brittany Springer talks with Wadena farmer Greg Malone about the new goat barn on Aug. 14, 2021. The family lost their barn, milk parlor, tractors, straw, 1,000 milking goats, 15 peacocks and a dog in a Christmas Eve fire. Rebecca Mitchell / Pioneer Journal
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HENNING — As a thank you to the community, the Springer family of Cornerstone Farm hosted a brunch on their dairy farm Saturday, Aug. 14. The family of Stephen, Brittany and their six children lost their barn and livelihood in a 2020 Christmas Eve fire.

With steady groups of people coming to see the new barn, support their family and pet the goats, co-owner Brittany Springer said the event meant to be a blessing for others was a blessing to their family. People joined in the spirit of thankfulness, and with questions about the goat milking process and the barn.

“We want to extend a HUGE thank you to ALL of our friends and family that have helped us with any aspect of this tragedy. Some of you helped physically, emotionally and/or financially. For this, we will be forever grateful,” the Springer family said in a note to community members. Friends and family were a large part of the rebuilding process. “Your thoughts, well wishes, gifts and especially prayers have helped us through these last 8 months of trials, heartaches and challenges.”

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Friends and family helped the Springers build a new goat barn with room for more goats, additional office space and a larger milking parlor. The family hosted a brunch to thank community members in August 2021. Rebecca Mitchell / Pioneer Journal

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With goats extending throughout the entire barn, the goats have space to roam as well as additional space for baby goats. Rebecca Mitchell / Pioneer Journal, 2021

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Children enjoyed seeing, feeding and petting the goats at the Cornerstone Farm on Aug. 14, 2021. Rebecca Mitchell / Pioneer Journal

A new herd of goats returned to the farm after a “pretty emotional” trip to Wisconsin, as Springer described. The family lost 1,000 goats, 15 peacocks and a dog in the fire.

“When you’re milking any animals, whether it’s goats or cows, you’re with them twice a day and you know them, you treat them when they’re sick, you get attached to them so it was really hard to lose them,” Springer said. “Getting goats back again was pretty amazing and kind of gave us a new sense of hope.”

The Springer family started their sustainable farm in 2017. With room for the goats to roam in the barn and animals outside on the property, the family sells produce, beef and pork. They also have community supported agriculture shares for a produce program and farmer’s markets once a week in Battle Lake.

The new structure stands longer than before after a contractor, an Amish crew and the community helped rebuild the barn, milkhouse and parlor. The installation of the new parlor, with spaces for milking 60 goats, was one of the longest parts. Although the rebuilding isn’t complete, Springer said the new barn has space for additional goats including baby goats.

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In the milking parlor area, co-owner of Cornerstone Farm Brittany Springer explains how the goats enter the stalls from a ramp. There is space for 60 goats and it takes about four minutes to milk the goats. Rebecca Mitchell / Pioneer Journal, 2021

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A row of goats eat during the brunch at Cornerstone Farm on Aug. 14, 2021. Rebecca Mitchell / Pioneer Journal

While there came many times when they wondered about starting over, the reminder of God’s care for the Springers remained—even through a rainbow above their farm following the fire. Their strong faith is marked on the farm’s sign that reads: founded in faith and risen from the ashes of 2020.

“The most important thing to us is to know that God had his hand in all of this. I mean even though it was a tragedy we had still had faith and it was still part of his plan,” Springer said. “We ended up with a beautiful facility out of the deal, and so I guess the biggest thing is God is good all the time even in trials.”

Related Topics: AGRICULTUREHENNING
Rebecca Mitchell is a Multimedia Reporter for the Wadena Pioneer Journal and Perham Focus. She loves capturing local stories through words, photos and videos, and providing resources for the community.
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