HARRISVILLE TWP. â€” Volunteers struggled to lift the main floor of the barn where several cows and draft horses were trapped below.
A storm that swept through Thursday afternoon collapsed three barns at Richman Farms belonging to the Indoe family on Richman and Prouty roads.
Tom Indoe was in the milking barn, and his brother Bill was nearby when the storm hit.
They escaped injury, but a horse and cow in the feed barn off Prouty Road died from injuries after the barn caved in about 4:45 p.m.
Dozens and dozens of area residents and rescuers helped in the cleanup at both ends of the property. The moving sight came as no surprise to area farmer Donna Guccion of Stonybrook Farms in Westfield Township.
â€œOne thing you can say is the strength, support and unity in the farming community is a constant,â€ she said.
Firefighters and volunteers spent several hours attempting to rescue about seven animals, including two draft horses, by lifting the barnâ€™s floor and pulling them out.
Volunteers came with chain saws, tractors, animal trailers and other tools to help save the animals and clear the debris that cluttered the pasture and barnyards.
A sheep meandering around the feed barn was unharmed.
One draft horse pulled out of the barn died a short time later after it started walking down a hill separating the feed and milking barns. One cow had to be dragged out of the barn and helped to its feet after sustaining an injury to its hind legs.
Two barns down the hill on Richman Road were used for milking cows and for storage. The approximately 45 cows in the milking barn were unharmed, Tom Indoe said.
Rescue workers used a trackhoe to dig an escape route for the trapped animals, but had to work quickly and carefully because power was still live in the barn.
West Salem farmer Jim Morlock will house the cows for the time being and plans are in the works to ensure the cows will be milked every day.
The main barn, which was used for storing hay and straw on the main level and milking Holsteins below, collapsed on the north side. The opposite end was still standing because of stored hay and straw bales supporting the mangled roof.
Along with the hay and straw keeping the majority of the structure upright, silos kept the rear of the barn from falling backward.
Tom Indoe said he and the family will have to figure out how to continue milking the cows, adding they probably would get a milk tank that was in the barn and take it to Morlockâ€™s farm.
Richard Indoe, the father of Bill and Tom, was in Columbus showing several cows at the Ohio State Fair when the storm hit, but returned to the farm about 7 p.m.
Tom Indoe said he was grateful nobody was injured and most of the animals were unharmed.
Tomâ€™s wife, Debbie, said she was in Ashland during the storm.
â€œWhat a shock to come home to,â€ she said.
The land has been owned by the Indoe family since the 1930s, but the barns were more than 100 years old, Debbie Indoe said.
In the early 1990s, the Indoes lost 17 cows after a barn burned down, Tom Indoe said.
Besides the crowd of neighbors and volunteers, firefighters from Lodi, Spencer, Chatham and Litchfield responded to the scene along with the Medina Life Support Team.
Cleanup continued into Thursday night thanks to generators and portable lights supplied by the Lodi Fire Department.
Among the tight-knit farming community, the reaction was unanimous.
â€œI was surprised. Itâ€™s such a beautiful farm,â€ said Indoe family friend Drew Bachtell, who was one of the first volunteers to arrive. â€œItâ€™s sad to see it go down in one storm. Itâ€™s definitely shocking.â€
The Medina County Farm Bureau is setting up the Richman Farms Fund to help the Indoe family. Donations may be made at any FirstMerit Bank branch. For information, call the farm bureau toll-free at 866-658-7456.