The recent tragic barn collapse at Friendshuh Farms speaks volumes about the value of friends and neighbors pulling together in a time of need.
Greg and Lori Friendshuh were attending a local basketball game Feb. 23 when Greg noticed he had multiple missed calls from the family’s farm. After returning a call, he found out that snow had caused the roof to collapse on one of the farm’s dwellings with one person and 175 cattle inside. Greg learned the individual who was inside driving a skid steer during the collapse was safe. “It scared the heck out of him, but he got out unscathed,” Greg said. He was able to get out of the wreckage on his own and was one of the missed calls on Greg’s phone.
The Friendshuhs left the game immediately. Once they arrived on the scene, Greg’s brother Brian called an electrician to get to the location and Greg started making other calls for help. “I called my closest friends with the intention of cutting some holes in the roof to get air to the cows. I called Troy Cress who happens to be a part of the Clear Lake Fire Department and asked if he could get some of the guys to bring saws,” said Greg. Before he knew it both the fire departments of Clear Lake and Amery had arrived to assist with saving the livestock.
“We started to assemble our department and equipment and responded to find a portion of the roof on top of approximately 175 cattle,” said Clear Lake Fire Chief T.J. Buhr. Efforts were made to cut the steel and roof material to be removed to free the animals; manual labor and large excavators did this. Buhr said, “We called for assistance from Amery Fire Department with more manpower and specialty equipment. There was a wonderful support of tools, equipment and resources from the neighbors and community.”
During the hours of rescue, Scott Poye Excavating and Gille Excavating arrived with track hoes to assist. Greg estimates there were 100 people at the dwelling helping and many more standing at the property sending good vibes. “There were many people who feel like they didn’t contribute just because they were not physically working on the structure, but that is not true. I want to say thank you for your sentiments and thank you for your prayers, that was a huge contribution,” Greg said.
At 2 a.m. Greg was finally able to call it a night. Dealing with the aftermath filled the days and nights that followed. They had to find a new place to hold the 130 cattle that survived the collapse. On the night of the accident, cattle were placed in other areas on the property. “Kevin Solum took a number of cattle and Marcus DeYoung who farms over in Dorchester took another 50. Relieving the burden of the over population in the areas here was our first priority,” Greg said.
Greg and Brian’s father, Frank, purchased the farm in 1979. Nothing like this had happened in the family’s history on the property. Their concentration now is on watching the livestock that went down in that building. A number of the cows were hurt too badly and will have to be harvested into meat. Greg shared their guys worked overtime in the days after the accident and by Thursday a little bit of normalcy had started to creep back into the day-to-day routine of the farm.
Greg said, “Thankfully nobody was hurt. We are going to move on. We have insurance that is going to help us get through it. We are going to soldier up, do our work and get our farm built back up again through the strength of everyone on our team.”
It is a true testament to the community that we live in when people pull together in times of tragedy. The Friendshuh family cannot share enough how truly grateful they are for everyone who lent a hand, sent food, conveyed well-wishes and kept the family and farm in their thoughts. Greg expressed that sometimes it is easy to get caught up in technology and hectic life. He said, “It seems like a big busy world that we live in, but then something like this happens and you realize we are just Clear Lake and Amery. We are here for each other. It sure is humbling.”