Travis girls keep up the pace in wake of March 10 fire

Travis girls keep up the pace in wake of March 10 fire

LILI TRAVIS points toward the area where a barn burned the night of March 10 and has since been replaced.

SCITUATE – It was a horrific sight they would never forget.

The blue barn at the Travis Family Farm was on fire and, within minutes, it was gone, lost in a haze of crackling orange flame and billowing gray smoke. This was the nursery barn, no less, sheltering “all our babies from this year,” said Jaklyn Travis, along with goats ready to give birth. More than 20 baby chicks died, as well as 15 puppies, some baby goats and pregnant goats, and a couple of cats.

All were lost with the nursery barn on the morning of March 10 at the farm on Rocky Hill Road in North Scituate where the Travis family lives and maintains a small menagerie of farm animals.

The family, led by mom Lili and dad David, is perhaps best known for the goat milk soap that daughter Rachyl makes by hand and sells at local farmers’ markets and over the Internet (rachylsgoatmilksoap.com). And while the blaze – an accident caused when a goat knocked over a heat lamp warming baby chicks, family members believe – destroyed one of several barns on the property, it certainly did not damage the nurturing and loving spirit of this family, especially daughters Jaklyn, 22, and Rachyl, 11.

“We love each one of our animals,” Jaklyn said. “I was extremely distraught because these animals are our lives.”

Jaklyn was especially upset by the loss of the labrador retriever puppies, then seven weeks old. All had forever homes already, promised to people who would come to visit the farm so they could watch the pups grow. “They were already bonded with the pups,” she said of the potential new owners.

She dreaded having to tell them about the tragedy, but fortunately a neighbor took on this chore for her.

The fire engulfed the barn in minutes. Jaklyn related that about 6:30 that morning her mother awoke and all was quiet outside; the same was true about 15 minutes later, when one of her brothers got up for the day. But by 7 a.m., “everything was in flames,” Jaklyn said. “We couldn’t even attempt to get the animals out.”

The Travis girls cannot say enough about the generosity of their neighbors, of the state’s farming community, and of “people we don’t even know,” Jaklyn said, who came forward to help them after the fire. The nursery barn has yet to be rebuilt, but will be for sure, the girls say, while their dad and his friends added an extension onto the existing milking barn to shelter the animals left homeless.

Meanwhile, farming friends dropped off baby goats to replace those lost in the fire, another donated two kittens, and someone else trucked in loads of stone to cover what had been a dirt driveway prone to muddiness. “The driver who delivered it donated his time,” Jaklyn said. “People as far away as California are sending us money.”

“As soon as our neighbors found out” about the fire, they rushed to help the family and, said Jaklyn, “it was kind of like a big hug from everyone, to know that people cared for us.”

Out-of-towners were alerted by the farm’s Facebook entry, as well as Jaklyn’s Facebook page and Instagram daily posts. She’s an amateur photographer and posts pictures every day, with several thousand followers, and she’s even posted video of her and Rachyl helping to deliver the babies born to their goats. “People felt like they knew us,” she said. In particular, those who use Rachyl’s goat milk soap, “want to support her because she’s a young businesswoman,” Jaklyn said.

Not all of the animals at the Travis Family Farm died in the fire, there’s still plenty more including seven adult Nubian and mini-Nubian female dairy goats, five baby goats or “kids,” one lamb, four alpacas (like llamas, but smaller, Jakyln says), some strutting roosters and setting hens, one peacock with a long feathery tail that the family took in after it was found wandering on Rocky Hill Road, and a golden-furred brown-eyed dairy calf, a recent birthday gift for Jaklyn.

The other five children of Lili and David Travis – all between the ages of 9 and 23, and most with unusually spelled names – are Mical, Jekub, Kelub, Noah and Izek, as well as three toddlers who are foster children that the family has taken in.

Only a pile of rubble remains from near the site of where the Travis Family FarmÕs small barn burned on March 10.
Rachyl Travis spends a moment with her new calf, Annabelle, last week.