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Winter weather wreaks havoc on family farm, kills multiple cows

GALESVILLE, Wis. (WXOW) – One Trempealeau County farming family is dealing with a devastating blow – a barn caved in on their milking cows late Saturday night.

“It was raining, snowing for a bit but raining real hard, and I guess it fell down. With all the cattle in here,” says Jason Johnson, one of the three owners of the farm. “It just kinda blows your mind a little bit. There ain’t nothing left of it!”

It happened after a long weekend of rain and snow, and a lot of accumulation from February’s record setting conditions.

“My brother was over here some place but we didn’t know where. It was really snowing a lot and very dark because all the lights had been wrecked, and [I was] very concerned for the cattle because there was 200 in this barn.”

The collapse killed six cows instantly and left another with life threatening injuries. None of them survived.

“Their heads were sticking up there through the tin and her neck was all cut up.”

Leaving the Johnson family stuck in a tight spot.

“I’m just struggling so bad and then this happens and… Oof.”

When times are already tough.

“I was pretty emotional. I was in tears when I was on the phone with 911 because I was like look at that there in the dark, you know? What do you do with the cows? And we’re so close to not making a living anyways, and this is gonna cost money. The dairy industry has been terrible.”

But Oak Ridge Dairy’s roots run deep. They’re not losing hope just yet.

“My great grandpa originally farmed here in the early 50’s he bought it and then my dad and now it’s myself and my brother and my dad. I was hoping these guys could take over. Hopefully, this isn’t the end. There’ll be better days.”

Jason says the barn that collapsed was his favorite on the whole farm. He hopes to have it rebuilt in one month. Unfortunately, he estimates the damage could cost him about $300,000.

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