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17 days after fire, Amish farmer will milk cows today at rebuilt parlor

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 January 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – One of Marcus Miller’s Jersey cows is pictured at his farm on Thursday.

RIDGEWAY – Six weeks. That’s how long it would normally take to build a milking parlor, to put in the piping, the steel, the refrigeration system and all of the pieces.

That’s been Brent Snyder’s experience. He is the owner of Trapper Creek Enterprises in Attica, which installs milking systems.

Snyder and his team worked with Marcus Miller to put in a system in four days. Today Miller expects to milk his herd of 45 Jersey cows for the first time at his farm since a fire Jan. 6 destroyed his milking parlor.

“You’re not going to find somewhere else where there is a fire and 2 ½ weeks later you’re back milking,” Snyder said at Miller’s farm on Thursday afternoon.

Marcus Miller, left, and Brent Snyder are pictured inside the milking parlor on Thursday. The parlor needs hoses, and some finishing touches. Miller expects he’ll be milking his cows at the site today.

Miller is close to being back in business. On Thursday afternoon, he was waiting on some rubber hoses and the inflations used on the milking units.

He’s been working at a frenetic pace since his milking parlor was destroyed in the fire. Miller and the Amish community torn down that parlor on Jan. 6. Within a few days a new building was erected – the same size at 42 by 70 feet.

Miller, 34, needed milking equipment. He went to a farm in Barker that was no longer milking cows. Miller and his friends used some of that equipment and he bought some new pieces to create a working Swing 10 Paraket Stall milking parlor. Miller will be able to milk 10 cows at a time on each side of the parlor.

He is a member of the Upstate Niagara Cooperative. Officials from the cooperative will be at Miller’s farm this morning, testing his rebuilt system.

Some of Marcus Miller’s Jersey herd has remained at his farm on Fruit Avenue. His milking cows were moved down the road while Miller’s parlor was rebuilt. This picture was taken on Thursday afternoon.

Here is how the site looked on Jan. 7, a day after the fire.

Miller’s neighbor on Fruit Avenue, Jim Smith, has been milking Miller’s cows since the fire. Smith, a dairy farmer, is not Amish.

Miller said many of his neighbors have pitched in to help him get his farm going. He estimated about 60 different people have helped rebuild the milking parlor and get the farm back on-line.

“It’s not what I have done,” Miller said. “It’s what everyone else has done.”

Cows tend to be creatures of habit. Miller is looking forward to getting them back at his farm and settled into a schedule.

“They’re ready to come home,” Miller said. “They like a routine and I’m ready to get back into a routine, too.”