Winslow farm suffered financial blow after lightning killed 8 heifers


WINSLOW – A farm owner in Winslow said on Tuesday his family suffered a financial blow when eight heifers who had gathered under a tree during a rainstorm were killed in a lightning strike.

John Fortin Jr. said large chunks of pine were blown from the tree as lightning hit the cows around 6 p.m. Saturday at Fortin Farm on Cushman Road.

There were 17 cows in the field at the time. A neighbor, whose house is less than 100 meters away, heard thunder and saw lightning strike the tree, Fortin said.

Fortin runs the farm with his father John Fortin and brother Jay Fortin, and the men were there in 20 minutes.

“It was quite the scene to come,” said Fortin.

The young females were due to be mated next year and the Fortins also lost the potential to increase their herd with new calves.

Buying a heifer can cost up to $ 600, but a farmer can sell it for between $ 1,500 and $ 1,800 a head when it’s ready to breed. Each cow can produce offspring for about 10 years.

Fortin Farm is a family owned beef farm that has been in existence since 1960. Before the family owned the farm, they sold meat products at a small store, Fortins Meats, located in one of their homes at 459 Cushman Road. Fortin Jr. and his wife run the store.

The farm covers approximately 190 acres and has 80 to 100 cows, depending on the time of year.

“It was unfortunate that we had insurance for years, never had to use it, and then we call about it and our policy doesn’t cover it,” Fortin said, explaining that they were covered for animal liability but not the actual loss of the animals.

Fortin said the family is encouraged by the support from the community.

He said that Meridith Cain, who manages the Facebook page Vassalboro Community Events and Announcements, posted that Cain and his sister-in-law are hosting a spaghetti dinner to help the Fortins. The dinner will take place in Vassalboro but other details are still being worked out.

A GoFundMe Online fundraising campaign had raised more than $ 12,000 by Tuesday, with a goal of $ 15,000.

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