Fire destroys barn on Glammis family hobby farm

Community fundraiser planned for Nov. 21

By Barb McKay


When Bill and Sara MacDonald moved from Kitchener to Glammis a year ago it was to create a more wholesome life for their young family.



Bill and Sara MacDonald, as well as dog Gracie, were in the process of cleaning up after their barn burnt to the ground last Tuesday. (Barb McKay photo)


The couple bought a farm property and raised pigs and chickens, which provided a supplemental income and allowed Sara to stay home with their young boys Jake, now three, and Charlie, 14 months old. Happy Hog Ranch was exactly that - happy.


But last Tuesday, the family was dealt a devastating blow when a bolt of lightning struck the barn during a storm and started a blaze.


Sara said she is a light sleeper and is frequently up in the night with Charlie. The bedroom window faces the barn and the glow from a heat lamp in the barn never fails to startle her.


“When I wake up in the night I always think the barn is on fire and it takes a moment for me to realize that it is just the heat lamp,” she said last Thursday as she sat at her kitchen table and recounted the night.


But last Tuesday night was different. Sara woke around 3 a.m. to a zapping sound and a bright blue flame. As she looked out the window the barn erupted into flames. The scene that ensued, she said, was like something out of a movie. Frantic, she woke Bill who dressed and rushed outside as she dialed 911. Bill moved the truck and farm vehicles away from the barn and raced back to the house to collect his family and drive them to the end of the long laneway. A neighbour met them at the end of the lane and said that she had been awake during the storm and seen a bolt of lightning strike the barn.


Bill and the fire crews worked to save what they could, but the barn was engulfed and burnt to the ground. The farm’s 40 pigs were outside in the pasture and were saved from the fire, but 60 chickens, the family cow Red and a barn cat named Tractor perished. Sara said a sow named Debbie had just given birth to a litter a few days earlier, which was being kept near the barn. Debbie broke through a 100-pound gate and rescued every one of her piglets. The family of pigs is currently being housed in the MacDonald’s livestock trailer.


Sara said Jake and Charlie are staying with her mom while the couple cleans up from the fire but the experience has been difficult on Jake, who is worried about his home and devastated by the loss of the animals. The family is now focusing on rebuilding what they lost and is receiving some much needed community support. Insurance will pay for a good portion of the damage, but not all of it and at least $10,000 is needed to rebuild the barn.


Bill said he plans to use the insurance money to build a structure at least to house the animals in time for winter. The pigs are pasture raised and fed a non-GMO, soy-free grain mixture grown by a Glammis farmer, which Bill rolls into small bales himself. The pigs are sold whole or in halves, but the couple had planned to raise enough to sell cuts of pork and start a booth at the Kincardine Farmers’ Market. The couple had raised enough chickens to produce 30 eggs per day, but will now have to rebuild the flock.


Sara said the support the couple has received already has been incredible.


“We have been floored by the support, even the messages we have received. We are very thankful.”


Neighbours are in the process of organizing a ‘barn dance’ at the Whitney Crawford Community Centre in Tiverton on Nov. 21 to raise funds for the family. More details will be published as they come available. A Go Fund Me page has also been initiated. Anyone who would like to contribute can visit