In 2009, the Travis family expanded their herd from 40 to 130 cows. In 2012, they built a milking parlor. A new barn is slated for construction in 2014.
"The cows love their new home and are milking very well," says Sharon. The rolling herd average currently sits at 25,000 pounds of milk per cow.
Daniel adds that beautification of the property has also been part of the family's focus.
When discussing the challenges on the farm over the years, the family politely says that transitioning the farm was the biggest one. Daniel explains that some of the growth was delayed because of this process, and Sharon agrees, noting that the older generation was very hesitant to discuss the topic.
"It's a legitimate fear," she says of the transition process. "However, communication is so, important, even in small things. You need to always be talking, and know what each person's challenges are."
The Travis family has a great story, which Sharon says she loves to tell. It's one of family, fun and a lot of sweat equity dedicated to something that is more than just a business — it's also a way of life.
Bradley lives in East Troy.
Program sustains farmers' ability to work
Paul Leverenz says the vast majority of people he and his colleagues work with through the AgrAbility program, now in its 20th year, are full-time family farmers. Smaller groups include multiple-family corporate farms and a growing segment of smaller niche farms.
He says a farmer does not need to provide documentation of disability to qualify for AgrAbility assistance. A person simply must have a physical or cognitive illness or injury-related issue that is creating a limitation or barrier to work activity, whether it's a difficult time walking, pushing items, driving, etc. AgrAbility recommends solutions for a wide variety of concerns.
While some farmers may qualify for monetary assistance, more often than not, he says, "small changes in the work process or activities can make a big difference in how you feel at the end of the day."
Although he understands work cannot be eliminated, the manner and timing of the tasks may be modified. All staff members have farming backgrounds, which he says makes the trust factor between farmer and AgrAbility consultant much stronger.
The biggest hurdle for AgrAbility has been getting farmers to admit their needs and seek advice. Most of the people who are in the program come by referrals, but Leverenz recommends that anyone looking for options to help them continue farming longer and not be deterred by physical concerns contact AgrAbility. Contact information can be found at fyi.uwex.edu/agrability.