Farm Horizons, Feb. 2005

Fire doesn’t put out Heuer family’s pursuit of dairy farming

By Lynda Jensen

Usually a fire that causes $250,000 in damage would drive a dairy farmer out of business – and if it didn’t, eventually the farm would be sold once the farmer retired, due to a lack of interest from his children.

However, neither of this will hold true for Rick and Sarah Heuer, southwest of Lester Prairie.

The Heuers milk 78 cows and sustained a major fire in September, which ravaged through the upper loft of Heuer’s 34-by 200-foot dairy barn.

It took seven fire departments the entire night to put out the blaze.

This didn’t stop Rick from milking the very next morning – made possible because the fire didn’t reach the family’s milking equipment or milking parlor.

This same spirit is alive and well in his 14-year-old son, since Peter Heuer plans to continue the family tradition of dairy farming despite being burned in the fire himself.

In fact, the fire nearly cost Peter his life, since he was trapped in a skid loader while putting bales into the hay bin when the fire started, Rick Heuer said.

The fire started when sparks came off the skid loader and got into some hay.

Peter spent five days at the Hennepin County Medical Center’s burn unit, but emerged with only second degree burns, Rick said.

Peter’s right arm and hand are being treated with elastic, but his face burns are not noticable. “His face turned out OK,” Rick said.

No skin grafts were needed, Rick added.

His son is safe and “that’s all that really matters,” Rick said.

The Heuers lost five dairy cows in the fire, including one that disappeared, he said.

Rick’s father and grandfather were both dairy farmers.

Rick started out dairy farming himself in 1990 when he bought a herd of cows. He rented a barn in Howard Lake at first, he said.

Nowadays, he is farming while his wife works as a dentist in Lester Prairie.

The Heuers have six children: Alexandra, 17, Peter, 14, Celeste, 11, Sophia, 4, Rachel, 9, and Paul, 1.

The girls are not interested in farming at all, Rick said. “They think I work too much,” he added.

Rick Heuer graduated from Howard Lake-Waverly High School in 1981.

The Heuer children currently attend Holy Trinity High School in Winsted.

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