Farming is a personal pastime, the relationship between farmer, the land and the livestock is a sacred bond, and the image of a taciturn farmer riding a tractor in the early morning sunrise or stooped low among the crops is an enduring one.

But farming is also communal. What grows and is nurtured on a small farm is then passed on to the community, literally. A farm's vistas are also shared, the rolling fields, when blooming or lying fallow, are a feast for the eyes and the spirit.

That shared experience, developed over many years, is a big part of why the Island feels so devastated by the Tuesday morning fire at Flat Point Farm.

The name Fischer is synonymous on the Island with farming and preserving the land. Brothers Arnie Sr. at Flat Point and Ozzie at Beetlebung tilled the soil that would nourish generations of their families. History, and the roots it creates, is important here.

And the death of so many defenseless creatures hurts the heart in an especially poignant way.

Yet here again tragedy can sprout seeds of hope and goodwill. Even before the flames had been extinguished donations of hay were being delivered for the animals that had survived. And less than two days later more than seventy thousand dollars had been raised through an online fundraiser. In April, pending approval, there will be another fundraiser at the Agricultural Hall — a fitting venue and not just because it represents farmers from all over the Island and our agrarian roots: Eleanor (Fischer) Neubert is the Agricultural Society's secretary and was the fair manager for over 30 years.

The story of the fire was of course reported in all of the local papers and radio stations, both on the Island and the Cape. But it didn't stop there. News organizations as far away as San Francisco took to the story too. It is easy to see why.

In a world racing forward at an untamed speed and often fueled, it seems, by discourse rather than connection, the tale of a family farm, of history and preservation, of kneeling in the muck of the soil for generations, and of a community rallying to the rescue is as necessary as it is rare.