Inside Stories

#InsideDracut: Collapse Cultivates Community Spirit

Photo courtesy Dan Phelps

(cover photo courtesy CBS 4 Boston)

Warren Shaw called it the “worst day I’ve ever had on this property” when the barn housing Shaw Farm’s 85 cows collapsed on March 14, killing six of the cows.

Warren was not at the farm at the time of the collapse, shortly after noon, having left for lunch. But his son, farm manager Mark Shaw, called him and “ordered me to come back,” Warren said with a smile.

Warren is the fourth generation of Shaws to work the popular dairy farm, which opened in 1908, though at 72, he has ceded many responsibilities to Mark.

When word spread that the barn’s roof had collapsed under the heavy and wet snow that Tuesday’s Nor’easter brought, “everybody in the neighborhood” came to the rescue.

“The Hudzik family came, the Kleczkowskis showed up with excavators,” Warren said. “Former employees showed up. We had about 20 people doing work there.”

Photo courtesy Dan Phelps

Warren said after the barn collapsed, most of the cows that were inside escaped and were roaming the field. They had to be corralled one at a time and loaded into trailers, some donated by other local farms. They were all taken to farms in Littleton, Dunstable and southern New Hampshire.

“The farming community is very tight-knit,” Warren said.

The cows that were stuck under the roof, meanwhile, had to be rescued with help from machinery brought from off-site.

“Trying to get the cows out with the roof on top of them was difficult,” Warren said. “The whole family was here – kids, grandkids – and everybody who came just wanted to help. But when it involves animals, you have to have people who know how to work with them.”

Unfortunately, six cows were lost.

Warren said production will continue while the cows are off-site, and the farm stand and ice-cream stand across the street will stay open and will continue to offer fresh milk and dairy products.

He hopes a new barn will be completed by mid-summer.

Dan Phelps is the Economic Development Project Planner for the Town of Dracut.

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