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March 4th, 2014

March 4, 2014 was the worst of times. I was in DC for Great Lakes Day getting ready to take an evening tour of the City when my nearly dead mobile phone rang. A park ranger asked who was watching the farm. I told her. Then she told me my barn was on fire and hung up on me. The concierge rushed over with tissues and a bottle of water. The bad news was obvious.

Later, I heard the only good news that the sheep and the horses were outside. I later found out that a local policeman, who was the first to this four-alarm fire, risked his life and saved the border collies from their kennel; the dogs would run down the road to lead the fire trucks to the farm.

I fly home to first see the devastation at night. It was Ash Wednesday. The next morning, as the sun rose, the barn was no longer the first thing I saw out my window as I woke to start a new day. I quickly found out who my true friends were when they came to help sort through the debris, care for the animals, and make contributions towards rebuilding the barn. And, past farm visitors over-whelmed me as they rallied their support. I remain so thankful.

But the nightmare was not over. Then the witch hunt was just about to begin. It was not to sort out the cause of the fire –officially unknown--most likely electrical or arson. The park would take four months deciding if they would kick me out or not. A few hateful local individuals and my ex had begun a closed group social media campaign to have me kicked off the farm. It was a full time job just to field the attacks on the farm’s social media pages. I keep that list of names today as a reminder.

After going terribly over budget and several delays, as well as nowhere to lamb, the nightmare ended with permission to occupy the barn 18 months later. Then on September 10, 2015, our barn dedication took the form of my wedding and a new beginning. It is a beautiful barn which honored the original in the design but it is much grander.