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UPDATE: Fund-raising page started for Old McDonald's Farm after fire

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For many, a visit to the Old McDonald's Farm in Sale Creek is a fall tradition. But the farm's fall festivities are on hold after a large fire ripped through a barn on the property early Sunday morning.

The farm employs around 45 people. They were all in disbelief when a large barn went up in flames.

Old McDonald's Farm is known for its hay rides and pumpkin patch, with around 20,000 visitors a year but there is really so much more to the almost 200-year-old farm.   

HOW TO HELP | McDonald Farm Fire Recovery Fund GoFundMe page

"You know, I treat this as if it's mine. I live here, my kids grew up here," says Brant Crowder.

Farming is Brant Crowder's life.

 "I've been on the farm since I was five years old. And I'm almost 50. So, you know, it's been a while."

READ MORE | UPDATE: Fire at Old McDonald Farm in Sale Creek

For the past 15 years he has managed Old McDonald's Farm in Sale Creek.

Sunday's fire may have temporarily rocked the farm's operations but not this farmer's grit.
 
"You'd like to just fall apart and go crawl somewhere and just stay there for a couple of weeks. But that's not an option," says Crowder.

The charred barn served as the farm's nerve-center. 
 
"This building was our headquarters, our hub."

The barn housed all of its equipment.

"Three tractors. Four utility vehicles. Forklifts. Every tool that we have from a hammer up to a chainsaw," says Crowder. "With the contents, two plus million dollars would be a guess."

This time of year usually brings fall festivities like playing in the pumpkin patch. The fire could not have hit at a worse time.
 
"Yesterday should have been our first really big day," says Crowder.

Crowder says they were expecting more than 1,500 visitors, missing out on more than $15,000 dollars in revenue.
 
"We had field trips scheduled this week, which, obviously we won't be doing," says Crowder.

There is so much more to Old McDonald's Farm.

"We grow corn, soybeans. Grow a lot of hay. We've got beef cattle."

It has been a fully operational farm since it opened in 1821, a staple in the Sale Creek community.
    
Crowder says they will bounce back.

"Once the insurance is here and done we can start doing a little bit more toward deciding what we're going to do as far as clean up and how far we're going to go and may just cordon off that area and let people walk around the outside of it."

Investigators say the fire was so intense they may not be able to determine a cause even though Crowder is guessing it could be electrical or some farm equipment sparking.

He says his crew is working hard to have things back up and running by this weekend. 

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