ZUMBRO FALLS, Minnesota ― Daniel Miller said it was a stroke of luck that a local construction crew had an opening to build a barn this fall.
Randy Schumacher Construction, a Zumbro Falls crew, is doing the rebuild of a barn lost to fire this spring at Easy Yoke Farm in Zumbro Falls, Minnesota, which is operated by Daniel and Hannah Miller,
The couple raises organic vegetables that they sell at the Rochester's Farmers Market and local co-ops.
"Everybody was booked until at least December, and they happened to just have a gap in the schedule," he said. "So it worked out perfectly."
Miller said that up until this point, every structure on the farm was built by them. The concrete portion of the reconstruction is already done, he said, and Randy Schumacher Construction would start work on the building in the second week of September.
On the morning of May 23, the shed that contained a washstand and coolers and was where the couple packed vegetables burned to the ground. Hannah Miller said the family lost its washtubs, a root washer, basic vegetable supplies, market tents, scales, a side-by-side ATV, vegetable seeder and freezer containing a year's supply of meat.
Miller said the cleanup process, which started the day after the fire, took months to finish, because it had to be done during the couple's spare time. And he had to keep several burned items for the insurance inventory.
"So it was kind of like trying to keep some stuff, but get rid of the rest," he said. "It was a lot."
The trauma from the night of the fire is still fresh, said Miller, and getting more press than usual and having a successful GoFundMe has been a blur.
"It's been amazing," he said. "We're just very, very grateful."
The Miller family started coming to the Rochester Farmers Market every week shortly after they purchased their farm in 2011. The strong customer base they've built since then stepped up when the farm took its biggest hit yet with the fire.
"It's basically covering our negligence of not being better insured," he said of the funding raised online. "It's our community bailing us out."
Miller said that it was difficult harvesting and getting products ready to sell this summer without their packaging barn. But without family next door it would have been impossible, he said. Hannah's sister Rebecca Schwen and her husband, Joe, happen to operate the neighboring farm to the Millers.
"It was the saving grace," Miller said of having his in-laws next to them. "We always knew that was like our ace in the hole if anything really bad would happen."