YODER – News of the barn raising spread by word of mouth throughout the small community.
But even if some one didn’t get the message, they knew to come. That’s because helping each other in times of need is second nature around this Reno County neighborhood.
Following Friday morning’s fire that destroyed a 106-year-old barn at the dairy farm of Dave and Eva Yoder, no one waited around for the insurance adjusters. Instead, the crowd of friends and neighbors began clearing the debris. The family’s fire insurance was through their Old Order Amish church. It’s what some might call, simply, loving your neighbor as yourself.
About 30 workers began building as the sun was rising the next day. Within four days’ time there was a visible frame standing once again on the horizon along East Trail West Road.
“This is what they do; they help each other,” said Tom Klayman, with Kaufman Seed, which is less than two miles from the Yoder farm. His employees spotted the smoke. They piled in two trucks and rushed to help get things out of the barn and extinguish the fire.
While the barn was destroyed Friday morning, by Friday night the rubble had been cleared away by friends and neighbors. Saturday afternoon poles were set. Sunday was church and a time of rest; no one worked. But throughout Monday and early Tuesday morning the frame of the large barn was already standing, amid the sounds of saws and hammering.
Several of Klayman’s employees were part of the construction crew working Monday and Tuesday.
Many in the community had been there helping to fight the fire and they returned to rebuild.
David Petersheim replied when asked about his own work, “It’s at a standstill.”
Just before 8 a.m. Friday, Eva Yoder’s brother David Knepp, who has the neighboring harness shop, spotted the smoke coming from behind the big barn attached to the dairy and came running with his wife. They yelled for someone to call 911. Then they began getting the calves and rabbits, plus the round baler and a tractor out of the building.
“It was very scary,” Eva Yoder said.
Fire units from Yoder, Pretty Prairie, Haven and Hutchinson, plus mutual aid from Burrton responded.
Now Eva Yoder marvels at how quickly the rubble was removed and the new structure was taking shape. The 32 dairy cows are being stored across the road at a neighbor’s.
“It’s a very wonderful community,” said Eva Yoder.
Ruby Yoder, no relation, an employee at the local People’s Bank and Trust, said when something like this happens in an Amish community, they get right after it and the community comes together. She marvels at how the workers all come from different trades, but they all come together as a team and work well together.
Then there are those who coordinate the food. From cinnamon rolls, hot coffee, and casseroles – food to nourish the workers, the supply remains on hand brought from the neighborhood women.
After hearing about the fire, Hank Yoder, no relation, sent out pizzas from his South Hutchinson restaurant, Gambino’s. A dozen pizzas were also purchased anonymously from Papa John’s, Hutchinson, and brought to the farm Monday.
“They do a tremendous job of taking care of their own,” said Todd Strain, Reno County Emergency Management.”They are very self-sufficient.”
It was believed a diesel engine that was used to help cool the milk had overheated.
“The fire went from there,” Strain said. About 200 bales of hay were lost in the blaze.
Tuesday morning John and Eva Yoder woke from their first peaceful sleep since Friday. While their landscape has changed, their community has come through. Just as they would come through for their neighbor if the fire had been down the road.