An Otter Tail County farm family that lost 1,000 goats and other animals to a barn fire is looking forward to rebuilding their dairy business, following a devastating blaze that broke out the day before Christmas.
An online fundraising effort started to help dairy operators Brittany and Stephen Springer and their five children recover financially from the fire had raised more than $5,000 from 102 contributors as of Monday night.
Brittany Springer said they want to rebuild the barn using the money when the weather permits.
"We had no idea people would want to help," she said of the fundraiser in a message to the Star Tribune. "It was actually one of our employees who started it for us. She loved the goats as much as we did and she wants us to succeed just as much as we do. … God is faithful and is getting us through this."
The blaze started in the dairy barn at Cornerstone Farm, northeast of Henning, about 3 a.m. on Dec. 24, according to the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office.
Along with the goats, the Springers lost a dog trained to tend to the herd, 15 peacocks and at least two tractors in the fire that ravaged the barn, according to authorities and the couple.
While the Sheriff's Office had yet Monday to offer a preliminary indication of how the fire started, "There is nothing suspicious noted at this time," Lt. Greg Seim said in a statement.
In a Facebook posting on Christmas Day, Brittany Springer wrote that she woke up "to a noise in our basement followed by the house losing power. I looked out our bedroom window, and the whole sky was glowing orange. Our beautiful barn was lighting up the night sky with the horrific glow of fire."
She recalled feeling helpless while watching "our dreams burn for 15 minutes before the fire departments got there. Our beautiful barn built from the ground up, was taken back down.
"The whole barn and all the goats inside were a complete loss. There were no survivors. The goats that were our family … gone."
The farm produces organic, sustainable, pasture-raised and GMO-free foods. Milk from the goats, which makes up the farm's dairy operations, goes to the Stickney Hill Dairy farm in Rockville, Minn., where it is processed into cheese, according to the farm's website.
Cornerstone Farm also produces pasture-raised chicken and pork and grass-fed products such as ground beef, eggs and pork chops.
In a Facebook post, Brittany Springer expressed the family's appreciation for everyone who had donated to the online fund.
"Because of you we can buy groceries right now, and replace some of Stephen's tools that were destroyed," she wrote. "We love you all so much and do not feel worthy at all, to receive these gifts."
Staff writer Alex Chhith contributed to this report.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482