TURNER — Ralph Caldwell faces a massive cleanup after fire destroyed his dairy barn Sunday on North Parish Road, but he remains grateful for so much help.
"People just keep coming and helping," the owner of Caldwell Family Farm said, telling how some friends took a week of vacation from their jobs to come out and help.
Fire investigators are due to look at the rubble Tuesday, Caldwell said. He estimated the loss at $500,000 and said he is insured.
His herd of 130 cows was moved to Greg and Gloria Varney's Nezinscot Farm in Turner until other arrangements can be made.
Joining Caldwell's farm crew Tuesday at 2 a.m. for milking chores will be a family that just arrived from Kentucky. They were on their way to Maine on Sunday to begin a new life, renting the ill-fated barn and buying Caldwell's dairy herd, when the fire broke out. According to Caldwell, they are all unpacked and ready to start work Tuesday.
Caldwell offered his appreciation to the many family members, friends and neighbors who have supported him. One former employee showed up and expressed a desire to come back full time.
Caldwell said Monday night that his crew worked until 7:30 p.m. Monday.
"We've got good people who get along great," he said.
Hannaford supermarket in Turner brought over "a feed" for his workers, he said.
And Sunday evening he called Schrep's Corner Store and told them he had about 80 people still at his property and asked them to start cooking pizza. He said Schrep's provided 17 large pizzas and when he went to the store Monday to settle his bill, they refused to take his money.
Caldwell said the generosity comes as no surprise. It's "very common" in Turner, he said. "It's a close community."