Photo Courtesy: New Ulm Journal
SLEEPY EYE, Minn. - Genny Fischer first started milking cows as a teenager on her parent's farm.
Sixty years later she's saying a tearful goodbye to her life's passion.
On Wednesday afternoon, a quick-moving fire consumed Fischer's barn and the prized herd inside it.
Fischer, who saw the flames from her farm house a few feet away, ran out with a fire extinguisher. It was already too late for the cows she knew by name.
"They were hollering in there to get out, they were all hollering, and I couldn't help them," she said, wiping away tears.
All 19 milk cows in the barn, and a calf, perished in the fire.
"They were like my children," said Fischer. "There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't pet them or talk to them or scratch their heads."
Fischer, 74, and her son Todd took over the milking when Genny's husband Ben, 82, had the first of several knee surgeries ten years ago.
Ben Fischer was in the immaculate old barn, thawing a frozen barn cleaner with a rented kerosene heater, when some straw caught fire.
The back of his down coat was burned by the time he reached the barn door. "I could never even get to the other end of the barn to get an animal out, it came that thick and fast," said Ben Fischer.
Genny Fischer is staying in the house for the most part. She can't bear to be outside, where the cows still lie under charred rafters and hay bales. "I look out there, and they're under there," she said.
Fischer knows some people in the city might not understand her grief.
"We're not very sophisticated here," she said. "We don't go on trips we don't do things like that, I was just happy when I could go to the barn."
Sleepy Eye Fire Chief Tom Moldaschel says the official cause of the fire is still being reviewed.
The Fischers sold most of their herd last year. But Genny Fischer missed the cows so much, she started refilling the barn with new purchases.
With no barn and milking equipment, she now must face the fact her milking days are over. "I have no place to milk," she said sadly.
A Fund has been established help the Fischer Family cover costs associated with the fire. The family says any remaining funds after bill are paid will be donated to the Minnesota Junior Holstein Association.
Checks should be made out to "Fischer Barn Fire" and should be mailed to:
920 Main St. E.
P.O. Box 406
Sleepy Eye, MN 56085
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