Fire Devastates RI Family Farm

3/15/2014 7:00 AM
By Sarah L. Hamby Connecticut Correspondent

Travis Family Farm Featured in March 8 Edition of Lancaster Farming

NORTH SCITUATE, R.I. — “Barn on fire. All dead.”

That was the devastating text message Michelle Champagne Lyon got from her best friend, Lillian “Lily” Travis, on Monday morning.

Lyon and her family live in Danielson, Conn., and run Kingdom Kids Farm, a similar-type operation to the Travis Family Farm, 17 miles west in Scituate, R.I. It’s no wonder, then, that Lillian Travis and Michelle Lyon consider each other best friends. And no wonder that when Lyon received those five words from Travis, she hopped in her vehicle, still dressed in her pajamas, and was on her way within minutes.

According to news reports, the fire at the Travis Family Farm broke out around 7:30 a.m. Monday. Flames consumed a nursery barn full of puppies, goats, chicks and rabbits. Fifteen puppies the family owned also died in the fire.

“It’s just a massive, horrific loss,” Lyon said. “This is everything out from underneath you.”

Lyon has started a fundraising website through Facebook and by Tuesday evening, more than 685 people had “liked” the page, with untold numbers offering financial support.

On Facebook and Instagram, Jaklyn Travis, 21, tried to keep friends and fans of the farm up to date as news of the tragedy spread.

“As many of you know, my life burnt to the ground this morning We woke up to our barn in flames, the barn my dad built me as a little girl filled with over 50 animals including 15 puppies, newly born goat kids, pregnant goats, chicks and rabbits. I’m devastated and in so much grief.”

Rachyl Travis, 11, the engineering young soap maker, also took to the Internet to thank supporters and to seek comfort.

“R.I.P to all the animals that passed away in our barn that went on fire. About 50 animals passed away in the fire.” Rachyl thanked everyone that helped out at the farm or just came to offer their support.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but the family believes it may have been started by a heat lamp used to keep baby chicks warm.

Lyon, who has been in close contact with her friends, shared this from Lily Travis: “This could have been worse. This could have been our house. Our kids ”

Lyon is hoping others will follow her lead and take the time to check their heat lamps and related equipment.

Even in the face of tragedy, Jaklyn Travis took time to think of others Tuesday morning: “We are so appreciative of the outpouring of support from family, friends and complete strangers. We’d like to ask that you include prayer for all the families who were in the process of opening their homes and hearts to our puppies and baby goats, especially the little children who are grieving this loss as well. May God comfort them as He is comforting us.”

“I finally was able to go visit my farm. I have my six milking does still, who were in another barn. I sat in the field and my Butterscotch came over and mothered me,” Jaklyn Travis said.

Butterscotch is a Travis Family Farm original. Bowlegged and beloved, the animal was purchased on Craigslist for just $100.

“She licked me all over, rubbed her face on my face, hummed to me,” Jaklyn Travis wrote. “It put hope in my heart that I can rebuild.”

One young goat, Essie, born the day before the fire, has captured the hearts of Travis Family Farm fans on social media. Essie and her mom were separated because there was not enough room for Essie in the barn. Essie’s mom survived the fire, safely housed in the milking barn. Essie had spent the night inside with the Travis family.

Essie is short for escape.

Recently, Lily Travis said that farmers do “whatever we can do for each other the farming community is really awesome.” Lyon echoed that sentiment Monday afternoon.

“The farming community is all about grabbing whatever you can and helping offering more prayer and more support,” Lyon said. She started the fundraising site so that the Travis family could begin rebuilding immediately, noting that her friends do have insurance. “But that will take forever.”

Friends and local businesses have been offering assistance as well.

April’s on the Pike, a restaurant in Harmony, R.I., is raffling off gift baskets with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Travis Family Farm.

The Country Mutt, a dog and cat grooming salon in Scituate Village, where Rachyl sells her soap, is hosting a special bath night to benefit the farm Monday, March, 31, from noon-6 p.m., with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the farm.

This week at Bread & Butter Trinkets in Johnston, R.I., half of the purchase price of charm bracelets were donated to the farm.

Several vendors at the Hope Valley Indoor Winter Farmers Market will also take part in a fundraising effort this weekend, and the market itself will host a raffle for the Travis Family Farm. The market takes place in Wyoming, R.I., at the Richmond Community Center today from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Other local businesses and friends have come forward, offering does, goat’s milk and a helping hand. There are plans to rebuild later in the season.

To donate to the Travis Family Farm, visit

Donate directly to if the app does not function correctly.

Transactions will show up as Rachyl’s Goats Milk Soap.

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