With just the turn of a key to the Kubota, comes the instant sound of excited cows throughout the yard. This Kubota is special in more than one way. First, it is used to feed many hungry cows and calves on this particular dairy farm. But for John Ederer, it is the sound of success and happy farming when doing these simply farm chores. Walking a day in John Ederer’s shoes shows his dedication and passion of the family operation. With the assistance of AgrAbility, Ederer was able to continue what he knows best, farming.
John Ederer and his two sons work 500 tillable acres and 300 acres of woods. Their crops include alfalfa, corn, and recently the addition of a few acres of soybeans. There are roughly 125 dairy cows almost all being, along with a few grazing steers. In addition to the tillable acres, Ederer and the two sons each live on separate farmsteads, milking roughly 70 cows. This summer, the family will be celebrating the history of the farm, it is a century farm. The farm is set up as a partnership and is truly a family operation. In the future, Ederer hopes to transfer the business to his sons.
AgrAbility came into the picture when Ederer had surgery. A blood-clot in his bloodstream, resulted in amputating his right leg just below the knee, along with all the toes on his left foot except his little one. While Ederer
was in the hospital, his insurance agent informed him about the program. His agent said he would enroll him, if Ederer wasn’t going to do it himself. He said that there were times when he felt that he would be unable to go back to farming, but that later he decided, “I wasn’t going to sit around.” Before long, Bruce Whitmore one of the rural rehabilitation specialists from Easter Seals of Wisconsin FARM Program, came out to the farm to asses what would help Ederer stay in farming. One of Ederer’s main tasks on the farm is calf care. All calves are fed by pails and Ederer was having difficulty carrying the pails from the barn to the calves.
When Bruce came out to the farm, he suggested that a Kubota would help with this farm chore. Ederer said, about his service with Bruce, “He was a great guy to work with.” “The Kubota is great for carrying buckets. It saves time and there is less carrying done.”
AgrAbility worked with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) to provide the accommodations needed for John. DVR supports employment and independent living for individuals with disabilities through services, training, and economic opportunities to maximize their
employability, independence, and integration into the workplace and the community. Bruce quoted about how Ederer is truly passionate about his farm operation. “Over the years, John has developed a really nice farm operation. In talking with John, it was evident that he was very proud of the operation and the fact that he continues to work on the farm on a daily basis. The management of the two herds of dairy cattle is primarily done by his two sons, but John provides advice and support doing a number of tasks while his sons provide very close management of the livestock.
In addition to the utility vehicle, John also received additional steps with hand rails to place for easier access to a few of the tractors. He said the additional steps have made it easier for him to do work with his tractor. He remembers when he did not have the
additional steps and hand rails every time he gets on and off the tractors. Ederer has recently gone through the program again, because he was having difficulties maneuvering the foot controls when operating the bucket of the farm’s skid steer. Sometime in July he will be receiving his skid steer with hand controls so he can help with more of the day-to-day operations of the farm.
Not only is John pleased with the assistance he was given through AgrAbility; his family is too. John stated that his family, “thinks it’s pretty neat watching dad drive around with 6 pails in back of the Kubota, when they don’t have to do it!”
Today, you can find John still feeding his calves while driving around the Kubota provided by DVR. When asked “Why do you still continue to farm after all you have been through?” he simply replies, “I don’t know anything different. I enjoy it and working with animals and machinery. It’s always something different.”