But in the last several weeks the farming community has rallied around Broadlawn Farm with help coming from the youngest 4-Hers to a former governor.
On Thursday, members of the Berkshire Jammin' Critters 4-H Club of North Adams rolled up with advisers Teri Goodermote and her father, Jerry Goodermote, to present a check for $1,700.18.
"The outpouring of support has been amazing," said Mark Ziemba. "Between friends, family, community, everybody —- even the volunteer fire department was amazing putting everything out."
In addition to 4-H, a GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $66,000 toward a $75,000 goal. There have been a number of fundraisers with the lastest a spaghetti dinner being held on Monday night beginning at 4:30 at Bounti-Fare.
Adams firefighters and a host of other departments from around the area responded to the early Sunday morning fire that destroyed a large L-shaped barn (the electrical fire started in the connecting corner) that housed the dairy's cattle and feed. The cows, luckily, were outside at the time but the farm's bull was killed in the blaze when they couldn't get him to leave the barn.
The fire was battled to a standstill that saved the adjacent structures including the milking barn and the house. The farm crew had hustled the cows around the burning barns that morning to get them into the shed for milking.
"There's no looking back, look forward and keep going I guess," Ziemba said. "Since the milking was here, we could decide to milk the cows for a week or two and decide if we think we're going to make winter.
"If the milking was gone, the cows were gone a day later ... there's no question. We can't milk them, they can't stay."
But, he said, "with the support coming in we could decide and things move forward every day."
The dairy farm's been in the family for more than 75 years since it was purchased by Stanley J. Ziemba Sr. It's currently operated by a number of relatives including Victor, Mike, Chris and Laura Ziemba.
The Ziembas have about 300 head of cattle, about a third of those calves and just under 200 being milked.
The 4-H group had spent a Sunday outside Walmart in North Adams seeking donations and their bucket had filled as fast as they could empty it, Teri said. "It's enough to feed the cattle for 3 1/2 days," her father said.
Broadlawn's been getting a little more help in that direction as well. Wrapped bales of hay were piled up in a side yard courtesy of farms ranging from Vermont to New York and closer, including Burnett's, Balawenders and Ioka. The Galushas had cropped the farm's hundred acres of corn and calls had come in from as far east as Boston.
Perhaps most importantly, backhoes were clearing where the north/south part section of the barn had been. The concrete pad was still in good shape largely because of the protection offered by the felt pads that been under the burned away rubber mats.
"We're getting along but weather is our biggest obstacle right now," Ziemba said, as a cold wind blew through the yard. "We're working on new barns, part of one of the barns has been delivered already."
The Ziembas are working to get up at least a partial shelter and have been speaking with Sheds N Stuff in Cheshire and its Amish suppliers to build a barn on the old location after a Christmas.
"But if we can get one of the sections up first, we can at least get the cows in it. Get them shelter," Ziemba said. "We've got a month window, roughly a month and a half, so hopefully by the first of December we'll have something up or close to being up and we'll go from there."
On the other side of the existing red barn, long poles have been delivered — the first part of a large shell structure from former Gov. Jane Swift's Cobble Hill Farm in Williamstown. The governor's husband, Chuck Hunt, had operated a horse boarding and riding school some years ago before they had moved to Vermont for a time. They had been looking to sell some of the structures and now it's going to good use to help save Broadlawn Farm.
"We're working on the foundation plan for that. We need engineers to design a foundation for it," Ziemba said. "So that's paperwork holding us up right now."
A local structural contractor and relative who has experience is getting the arena delivered and back together again.
"If it does get up, we'll get everybody back and show them where their donations go," he said. "Hopefully."
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Adams Offers DPW Director Position to Caritas Property Manager
By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Staff
The Selectmen voted to offer the post to Robert Tober after its other preferred candidate withdrew last week. Tober is expected to begin work in January.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen's search for a new Department of Public Works director started months ago with more than a handful of applicants.
The list was narrowed to three and then narrowed further when only two were called back for second interviews. Ultimately they ended up with one.
North Adams DPW Assistant Commissioner Paul Markland withdrew from consideration on Friday leaving Robert Tober as the only remaining candidate.
The board discussed the potential hiring at length last week and were split on the two applicants. The decision was made to hold a second round of interviews Monday night. Even with Markland backing out, Tober still made the trip from his current home in Millville to interview with the board again and tour facilities with Town Administrator Jay Green.
After last week's lengthy interviews of three finalists, it became apparent that the board on Tuesday could not come to consensus on one but was splitting in favor two of the finalists: Paul Markland and Robert Tober.
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The late Adams fire chief decided to throw a turkey dinner for any senior citizen able to show up on the first Wednesday in December. All the fixings, no charge, no questions asked. All run by himself and his fellow firefighters.
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