Barn blaze kills 200 chicks
South Dartmouth family farm loses feed, equipment
A small certified-organic family farm in South Dartmouth, whose popularity has grown along with its produce, suffered a heartbreaking setback Saturday morning when its entire flock of laying hens for the year died in a devastating barn fire.
“I was standing there with a bucket of water, thinking I could do something. I couldn’t believe it, how fast it moved,” Sarah Cogswell, co-founder of the Cluck and Trowel on Horseneck Road, told the Herald Sunday.
The Dartmouth Fire Department said the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Cogswell said the 200 future egg producers were just chicks, only 3 months old and still in an incubator. No other livestock, including pigs and goats, were lost. However, Cogswell said a number of tools and soil-tilling equipment essential for planting seeds come spring went up in flames, as well as tens of thousands of dollars in feed, hay and frozen meat.
“We’re just taking it step by step,” she said.
Firefighters from several neighboring communities kept the blaze contained to the barn but Cogswell said embers were flying and if the wind had taken a bad turn, she might have lost her house, too.
Fortunately, Cogswell was up before dawn Saturday preparing for a trip to the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers Market in Rhode Island.
“I was getting the eggs ready,” she said. “I looked out and saw a glow — this really red glow and a huge black plume of smoke going up.”
It was 5:45 a.m., she said.
Cluck and Trowel posted on social media Saturday, “The barn and each of us are forever changed. Thank you for every post, share, comment, call, text, bottle of wine, beer and every last scrap of food, humor, strength and support we have received today. We lost a lot but have never felt so rich.”
“It’s a very close-knit agricultural community,” said Cogswell, adding that a GoFundMe page is in the works.
She suggested that anyone wishing to help Cluck and Trowel recover sign-up for the farm’s newsletter at www.cluckandtrowel.com/contact/ or follow them on Facebook.
BIG LOSS: Firefighters extinguish the remnants of a barn blaze Saturday in South Dartmouth after flames erupted early Saturday morning. The co-founder of the Cluck and Trowel family farm said 200 chicks died in the fire, and tools and feed were also destroyed.