A year after an early-morning blaze destroyed the Hermes Dairy Farm, the evidence is barely noticeable.
"It took awhile to get everything cleaned up, and then we started gradually rebuilding. It took us the whole month of October to rebuild the barn," said Tom Hermes, co-owner.
At about 2:30 a.m. Feb. 5, 2007, the milking barn of the family business on Hayes Avenue in Perkins Township went up in flames.
Fire quickly engulfed straw and hay stored above the milking barn, gutted the barn and threatened several other barns on the property. The milking operation of Hermes Dairy was deemed a total loss after that part of the barn was destroyed and exposed to the elements.
The three Hermes brothers didn't decide overnight to rebuild the farm and continue a tradition of more than 100 years.
"A lot of decisions had to be made if we were going to rebuild or not rebuild," said co-owner Tom Hermes. "We've never done nothing else. I've been milking cows for 40 years probably. I'm 50 years old and never done nothing else."
He also didn't want to let down the community that has shown so much support, he said.
A little over a year later, the outside of the barn is completely reconstructed, but the inside still needs concrete and electric.
Tom and his brothers have not yet decided if they will start milking again, but they are raising about 150 replacement heifers and feeder steers. Before the fire, they had about 300 cows and are gradually working their way back up.
Tom said the fire didn't hurt the family business as much as it could have.
"Business has been about the same because we farm over 1,500 acres and we sell quite a bit of hay," he said.
If the brothers decide not to start milking again, they will still raise cows and sell them to larger dairies, he said.