On Monday morning, construction began on the new barn at Flat Point Farm, seven months after a devastating fire destroyed the farm’s 80-year-old barn.
Sturdy pieces of lumber were sawed, hacked, and fit into place by eight Amish men from Riehl Construction in New Holland, Pa. The carpenters came to the Island early Monday, and began construction right away.
“We’re simply amazed at the Amish team, and you know, they just go about their work quietly and totally focused,” farm co-owner Eleanor (Fischer) Neubert said. “Simply amazed that roof was put up in about 20 minutes.”
On Tuesday the farm family could be seen enjoying a lunch as the construction crew completed the barn frame. The crew plans to finish up their work this week. The barn still has a few weeks of work, but Neubert told The Times the barn will be ready before the end of the year. “We’ll be in before the snow flies,” she said.
The early morning March fire that destroyed the original barn took the lives of more than 80 animals, including sheep, chickens, and cattle. But out of that tragedy the Island community rallied. Fischer family member Albert Fischer set up a GoFundMe, and within hours raised thousands of dollars — reaching the goal in less than 24 hours. In total, the fundraiser generated more than $120,000.
The farm continued to see an outpouring of support from the community. Brian Athearn, president of the Agricultural Society, spearheaded a massive fundraiser at the Ag Hall with music, food, and dancing.
The family decided to construct a barn that would honor the past, but also prepare for the future. While slightly smaller than the original, the new barn will be more modern, and leave space for the possible addition of solar panels. Plans for the barn were completed by the farm’s neighbor Peter Rotogast. “It’s designed for looking forward,” Neubert said.
Along with a new barn, the farmers have welcomed some new livestock into their lives — eight new sheep from Vermont. The farm also has 50 Red Star chickens, which are about a month away from laying eggs.
“It’s pretty overwhelming to just see it. You talk about it and you plan. I have had a hard time conceptualizing it,” Neubert’s brother and farm co-owner Arnie Fischer said. “It’s spectacular.”
Staring at the new barn, Neubert said it was amazing: “After a difficult few months, it’s a happy day on Flat Point Farm,” she said.