Farming and fatherhood reap pride, joy for Struthers man

Correspondent photo / Bill Koch Danny Kerr of Struthers feeds the goats at Farmer Casey’s Ranch in Coitsville, which is operated by Purple Cat Executive Director Jimmy Sutman. Kerr, a client of the Purple Cat, has had many jobs, but he said working on the farm is his calling.

STRUTHERS — Danny Kerr has had many jobs, including those at Wedgewood Lanes, Sparkle Market and Belleria Pizza.

He worked at Goodwill Industries for 16 years and performed a variety of duties, including taking donations and unloading trucks.

But about eight years ago, when Jimmy Sutman of Purple Cat, a division of Iron and String Life Enhancement, introduced animals to Farmer Casey’s Ranch on U.S. Route 422 in Coitsville, Kerr found his calling.

He drives the Gator to bring buckets of hay to the alpacas. He feeds the ducks. He pulls weeds and tends to the flower beds. He does larger landscaping projects such as preparing for the construction of cabins at the site of the upcoming Gabba Camp.

If anyone calls off, he steps in and does whatever is needed to make sure the weekly chores are completed.

“On Friday, I don’t leave nothing for nobody,” Kerr said of his Monday through Friday job.

Sutman described Kerr as one of the best workers on the farm. He is reliable, willing to tackle any project, and he has to be told to take a break.

Kerr said there is no task he doesn’t like, but his favorite activity is taking care of the goats. He gets to learn their different personalities and said they are always happy to see him.

Kerr, 52, was born in Lancaster, but moved to Austintown as a young child. His parents were unable to care for him, and he was adopted at age 11.

He graduated from Austintown Fitch High School in 1989. Twelve years ago, he met Sutman through ISLE, his residential provider. His Struthers apartment is a supportive-living environment with staff available, but Kerr does most things independently.

Besides being a farmer, Kerr recently has taken on a new role: father. He and girlfriend Nikki Taub, of Farrell, Pa., had a son, Raymond Lee, in November. Taub wasn’t expected to be physically able to carry the child, so Raymond is considered a “miracle baby.” Kerr helps care for him every weekend.

Sutman noted that it is unusual for one of his clients to have a child, let alone to be actively involved in parenting, so everyone is excited whenever Raymond visits the farm. Sutman credits Kerr’s maturity and Taub and her supportive family for creating a healthy environment.

Throughout the week, Kerr goes about his business. There is plenty of work to do year-round and the duties change with the seasons.

Kerr said he likes the summer weather but doesn’t mind putting on heavy gear and trudging out to the barn in the winter.

“If you work on a farm, you’ve got to do all the weather. If you don’t like working with animals in the summertime or the wintertime, that job’s not for you.”

To suggest a Saturday profile, contact Features Editor Burton Cole at bcole@tribtoday.com or Metro Editor Marly Reichert at mreichert@tribtoday.com.



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