Community Agriculture Alliance: Dairy producer receives hope with help of Colorado AgrAbility

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Besides the dairy milk, meat and eggs that her livestock provide her, Vickie Paxton’s goats and chickens give her a reason to get out of bed each morning and force her to keep moving. Movement is important for a person dealing with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. However, the accompanying chronic pain and joint inflammation had Paxton wondering whether she could continue working with her livestock as she always had.

Paxton attended a workshop she saw advertised in her local paper for Colorado AgrAbility. She had the program’s occupational therapist come to her farm at no cost and offer ideas about how to work easier while protecting her joints and conserving her energy. They brainstormed options to feed and milk her goats, clean the pens and get around the property with less effort.

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, a state agency that helps injured workers, stepped in to provide more hope by purchasing for Paxton equipment to clean the goat pens. Paxton also is working with the Natural Resource Conservation Service for its high tunnel program so she can extend her vegetable crop production season. She hopes that in the future, raised container beds and ergonomic tools also will help ease her joint pain.

Colorado State University Extension and Goodwill Industries of Denver work together on the Colorado AgrAbility Project to provide disability workshops, on-site evaluations, resource information, equipment modification and assistive technology. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides funding for the Colorado AgrAbility Project.

Colorado AgrAbility will host a free workshop Jan. 16 in the Commissioners Hearing Room in Steamboat Springs. The workshop, “Gear for Working Smarter with AgrAbility,” is from 9 a.m. to noon and includes lunch for those who pre-register at least one week before the workshop.

For more information about the Colorado AgrAbility Project or to preregister, call Dr. Bob Fetsch at 970-491-5648, email robert.fetsch@colostate.edu or visit www.agrability.cahs.colostate.edu. You also can contact the Routt County Extension Office at 970-879-0825 or thagenbuch@co.routt.co.us.

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