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Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

   20140901MetroCastweb

Farm and 4H help comes full circle for the Emory family

Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to find out that your barn with all your livelihood in it was burning in a furious hellfire that could not be stopped.

This was the nightmare that the Emory family, formerly of Hughesville, Maryland, lived through back in 1985.
The Emorys, the owners of Poplar Ridge Farm, specialize in cattle, goats, and hay. Back then they had a barn full of poultry chickens (over 100), 40 goats, a dog and a pony that all perished in that blaze that they awakened to in the wee hours of the morning.

As Lucky Emory, who was a young man at the time, told me about the horrible experience I could see the sorrow in his eyes thinking about all those animals they lost. His mother said, “God saved us that night because if we had known that fire was going before we did, we would have certainly perished in it trying to save those animals!”

Lucky explained that when the roof caught fire the whole thing came down at once and would have flattened and crushed anyone inside. “It was terrible. I would not wish that on anyone. No one should have to know how it feels to lose your entire barn and stock with it.”

Amazingly, the fire was barely out on that memorable morning when other farmers and 4H members started showing up at the Emory farm there in Maryland. The Emorys didn’t ask anyone for help. They just did as farmers always do. They came and helped rebuild immediately.

Mr. Emory, Lucky’s father explained, “All of the 4H members showed up. Friends showed up and some people we did not know showed up that heard about it too. As soon as the insurance company had the information they needed, the cleanup began.

In fact, within a few weeks we had a new barn that was 30x50 with a feed room, hay loft and stables. It was brand new and we called it, ‘The Barn that Friends Built’.”

One person showed up with heavy equipment, dug a hole and buried the dead animals and debris. Work was quickly done to clear and rebuild. Other 4H members and farmers brought donated stock to rebuild what the Emorys had.

Have you ever heard of a barn raising? That is not just something you see on Little House on the Prairie; it happens in real life when farmers need help, the help comes in a wave of pickup trucks, heavy equipment, wagons and trailers from their fellow farmers. It is part of what America, and its core values, is founded on.

Neighborly kindness and compassion is what drives it. You will be happy to know that despite all the bad news on the television and in the media today, that farmers’ ethic and kindness and compassion is still very much alive today.

On March 26 in Somerset County, Maryland, almost the day to the time when the Emory farm burnt down 28 years later, a farm owned by Jay Ring and Candy Anderson and their three children burned down.

They lost 40 piglets, 17 of them for the 4H projects the kids had going. Additionally, three heifers and four steers, also 4H projects, were burned alive in that fire. The family lost pretty much everything and immediately the farming community came to their aid.

Mrs. Emory takes the paper from that area and read an article about the fire. She passed the paper to her husband who in turn read the article and felt the Ring’s pain. They passed the paper to their son and his wife, Lucky and Becky Emory. Without any discussion, all four agreed that they needed to help out as those around them had helped their farm.

Poplar Ridge Farm is donating a steer and a heifer to the cause of rebuilding the Ring / Anderson farm. The kids will get to show the steer and heifer in the 4H Show and the state fair in Maryland due to the generosity and the act of paying it forward from the Emorys and Poplar Ridge Farm.

The Emorys did not just give them any old stock they had either. They raise Polled Her
efords and Maine Cross commercial cattle and are donating a registered Hereford heifer and steer to the Ring family.

They know how it feels to suddenly be without a thing to call their own in terms of a livelihood and they also understand how it feels to suddenly feel the love and compassion of those around them. This was the perfect opportunity to share that.

As the writer of this article, I can say that one can easily get weary of the normal, negative news that one finds on television. One good cure for that is to make friends with a farmer and see how hard they work to feed the rest of us and how quick they are to help their fellow man out without worrying about the sacrifice they are making to do so. It is a way of life for them. It is refreshing to know this still goes on.

If you are interested in purchasing some locally raised beef, Poplar Ridge Farm is one of several places that raises and sells their meat. You can reach Lucky and Becky at (540) 775-2511 or Willis Emory at (301) 751-6265.

Mark Fike

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