If RJ Zurcher knows one thing about life, it’s that you have to be adaptable.
This past February, the main livestock barn on the property he runs with his wife Nicole, known as Zurcher Farms in Dorchester, caught fire.
While those six months have passed, they have had to readjust projects and operations of their farm.
“We’ve had to refocus on things and are still trying to get things cleaned up,” RJ said. “We’ve put quite a lot of work into the barn.”
Both RJ and Nicole grew up on farms before meeting at Wilber-Clatonia High School. Since marrying, they have expanded their family to five children, whom they try to involve in farm operations as much as possible.
The Zurchers raise mainly hogs for buyers, but also take care of other livestock such as rabbits, cattle, goats, ducks and broiler chickens.
“The kids go out every day and feed their animals,” RJ said. “Farming is a family affair.”
If the fire had not happened, RJ said things would look a little different right now. They would have farrowing pigs, pigs raised to give birth, in the barn and raise piglets in the spring, but that has been pushed back at least a year.
“Everyone has been patient with us in filling orders and we just want to thank everyone who came to help,” RJ said.
Although this year is looking different from originally thought, the Zurchers are taking it in stride.
RJ works part-time as a mailman and Nicole is working as a language arts teacher at Friend Public Schools.
They are currently using a house that was fashioned into a barn for their livestock until a new facility can be built.
When the time comes, RJ said an estimated 25 to 30 families have volunteered to help.
“Within in the next year or two, we hope to have a barn raising,” RJ said.
He managed to save many items after the fire, including hinges, handles and a single beam from the original structure they hope to implement into the new building.
No matter what the future holds, RJ’s philosophy in life will remain the same and knows he has to stay flexible.
“In farming, you are always having to adapt, overcome and change your plan because it will probably have to change to make it work,” RJ said.