Jean Braatz was on her way home to her Montgomery farm earlier this month when she saw thick, black smoke.
When she arrived, her husband Dean had already dialed 911 for a fire in their pack shed.
The Braatz’s own and operate My Minnesota Farmer near Montgomery. The family raises meat and produce. On Wednesday, October 19, an integral area of the farm’s operation was destroyed when the pack shed was destroyed by fire.
The blaze started approximately just before 1 p.m. that afternoon. Two fire departments responded but it was too late for half of the building, which had to be completely gutted. Jean said her husband had walked by the shed just before lunch and hadn’t noticed anything unusual. Her son looked out the window and saw smoke coming from the building minutes later.
The pack shed housed many essential aspects of the Braatz’s farming operation, including an extensive collection of power tools and a large amount of meat. The farm’s business office was also located in the shed, along with a kitchen and bathroom. Thirty chickens also perished when the electricity in their building was cut and they huddled on top of each other.
The state fire inspector can’t determine the exact cause of the fire, because of the extensive damages. The shed was built in 2016.
Jean Braatz said the business needs to sell a lot of meat this month because the farm has lost freezer room due to the blaze. That’s one way to help the family. Sheep, lamb, grass-fed beef, and turkeys are raised on the farm.
A Go Fund Me page has also been set up to help with expenses that insurance won’t cover.
Expenses aren’t the only challenge the Braatz family is facing right now. Cleaning up after the fire means the regular farm work doesn’t get the attention it usually would. The family is hoping to find volunteers to help them plant garlic and get plants out of their high tunnels for fall, along with other tasks. To volunteer, visit the My Minnesota Farmer Facebook page.