Cows return to tri-state family farm after barn fire - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cows return to tri-state family farm after barn fire

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GRANT COUNTY, Wis. (KWWL) -

In a story straight from the heartland, 28 trailers and dozens of friends and neighbors helped return 139 Holstein cows to the Tashner family's dairy farm.

The cows had been living at a nearby ranch ever since a fire in March burned the family's more-than-a-century-old barn to the ground. Incredibly, not one cow perished in the blaze.

"We're 'udderly excited you're home!'" 23-year-old son Benjamin Tashner said of the cows, with a laugh. "We're so happy. I don't even think words can express all the feelings that everything's happening."

The family made shirts that say, "The cows come home today! 7/18/12."

If July 18 will go down in family history as the day the cows returned, March 22 will be remembered as the day the barn burned down. In that building, the Tashners held their wedding reception and taught their children how to milk cows.

"It's been in my dad's family, the farm," Benjamin Tashner said. "He grew up on it. There's just so many memories in it."

"First couple weeks of shock, what to do, and now you gotta think, 'Well, do you want to rebuild? Do you want to just get out of the business?'" dairy farmer Marty Tashner said, recalling his thoughts immediately after the fire. "But I like it too much. You either like it or you don't, and I like farming."

Still, it wasn't a quick decision.

"Dad said he could go find another job and start something else, but, I don't know, I don't think he would've been as happy or liked it as much as he loves this," Benjamin Tashner said.

The Tashner family kept and milked the cows at a ranch about 20 minutes away while they built an entirely new facility.

"We're not quite done, but at least we got the cows home and we can start milking and get back to a normal family life," Tashner said.

On Wednesday, dozens of neighbors gathered to help transport the cows. They then stuck around for a celebratory pot-luck. It was just another sign of the support surrounding the family this entire time.

"This is life, right here. All the neighbors around to celebrate the happy, the sad, the turmoil," neighbor and friend Cheri Oglesby said. "It's a close community. Farm community. Everybody cares. Everybody's family."

It's a community so close-knit that farmers would take time out of their own work days to help a friend.

"You really don't know what's more important in life. It's family and your neighbors. They're always there for you," Tashner said, tearing up.

Wednesday afternoon, with the help of friends and neighbors, the Tashners milked the cows for the first time in the new facility. They hope to have the structure fully completed before the end of the year.

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