Rummaging through the wreckage, the Wetzel family, owners of Pebble Knolls Dairy near Waupun, Wis., discovered an outpouring of community support after a tornado destroyed their 600-cow freestall barns Tuesday evening.
According to Wisconsin State Farmer, community members showed up to lend a hand just minutes after the storm had passed.
Categorized as an EF-1 tornado, winds generated by the storm were estimated to reach 100 mph, damaging six buildings and leveling their freestall barns. Family members and farm employees fortunately were able to emerge from the wreckage unharmed; however, several cows did not survive with some being sent to market due to severe lacerations.
“Yesterday people began pouring into the yard with trucks and trailers. Even if they didn’t know a thing about cattle, it didn’t matter, they were here to help us get our animals out of the barn and delivered to area farms,” said Danielle Wetzel in a news interview. “We didn’t have to call anyone.”
Farmers from all over the state brought trailers and supplies to the farm doing whatever they could to help. Many of the surviving animals were relocated to other dairy facilities including Daane Dairy, Crave Brothers Farm and Rosendale Dairy who welcomed 300 of the Wetzel’s cows.
Bill Harke, a spokesperson for Milk Source Dairy, understands what the Wetzel’s are going through and felt the need to help out. During a freak April blizzard earlier this year, Harke also experienced overwhelming community support, passing some of the kindness he was given on to Pebble Knolls Dairy.
“When we had a barn collapse at Tidy View Dairy in April, many farmers reached out to help us, Harke told Wisconsin State Farmer. “If we can help the Wetzel family, we’re happy to do so. It’s what Wisconsin farmers do.”
Causing extensive damage to the operation, it may be several weeks or months before the family can bring some of their animals home.
“I know my children, would like to farm, but there’s some pretty big decisions ahead of us,” Eric Wetzel said.
In a separate interview with Fox6Now, Dick Wetzel, one of the farm’s owners told reporters, “We’re going to rebuild. I don't think there's a question about that. It’s our life.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the dairy to help offset costs of the destruction. To contribute, click here.
For more on this story, read Tornado Destroys Wisconsin Dairy Barn.