No lives were lost, but the owners of Yellow Point Farms in Ladysmith lost almost everything they need to support their animals, and the community has lost a 100-year-old heritage barn.
Justin Dault, who owns the farm on Yellow Point Road with his wife Rebecca, said he called 911 at about 10:30 p.m. Monday, May 1, when Rebecca noticed an orange glow in the darkness.
“[We] were having a conversation in the kitchen and then she was looking behind my shoulder and said it looks like bright orange out there,” Dault said. “I came out and my whole barn was up like nothing.”
He rushed to get some birds out of an aviary and he had fortunately put their sheep out to pasture the day before.
“I opened up the doors in case any other animals were in there … but we got everybody out,” he said.
Dault, who is a lieutenant with North Oyster Volunteer Fire Department, started moving vehicles and other items away from the barn to clear the way for firefighters arriving on scene and did what he could to protect other nearby structures that included a chicken house, a greenhouse, and a building containing livestock. Firefighters managed to save those structures, equally important to the farm which is known for its goats, sheep, tours and store.
North Oyster firefighters were assisted by Ladysmith Fire Rescue and Cranberry Volunteer Fire Department.
Dault said he has no idea what sparked the blaze. There were no tools or equipment running or being charged, and of eight freezers used to store meat and other perishables, only two were running. It had been a normal day of doing chores.
“The trucks showed up and I had everything out of the way, ready, and told [firefighters] what was going on and then [Florian Schultz, North Oyster fire chief] took over from there and I kind of stood and watched, hopeless,” he said.
Dault said the barn was about 100 years old and one of the oldest in the area. It contained tools for the farm and feed, including hay and bedding for the animals, feeders, a dirt bike, ATVs, even fencing for the farm’s turkeys. About $1,000 worth of animal food purchased on the weekend also burned.
“Trailers, freezers, walk-in cooler, every farm tool – shovels, rakes, hoes, you name it … All my tools, gone,” he said. “The list goes on and on … a lot of different stuff. I’ve got to start writing it down.”
The property is insured and Dault said he is already receiving help from the community. People have been dropping off feed and hay and friends have set up an online fundraiser. He’s grateful for all the help he’s receiving and said he finds it difficult to accept, but he knows in the coming months the farm will need tools, feed, equipment and other things to keep operating and care for the animals.
“We never have taken handouts. We’re first-generation farmers. We’ve done this all by ourselves and never had money given to us,” he said. “Right now, we just don’t know when we’re going to get the insurance money and there’s a lot of stuff that I’m going to go to use and I’m not going to have it, so some farmers are going to let me borrow some tools, but right now it’s feed for the animals and I’m going to have to get some buckets and feeders.”