A DOs Life on the Farm

“A ’67 VW beetle,” was the answer to my question “What brought you here?” after I learned Kieren Knapp, DO was not a Pennsylvania native. POMA’s 87th president (1996-1997) shared that he was raised on a dairy farm in Iowa with over 500 head of cows. He, his wife, Jane, and their unborn child made their way from Iowa to York County in 1978 for a medical school rotation. When their son arrived nearly 3 months earlier than anticipated, and needed a prolonged hospitalization in one of the area's first neonatal units, the young family laid down roots in York County and never left.

When I learned that the Knapp Farm had just welcomed some baby goats while I was visiting south-central Pennsylvania, I couldn’t resist a (literal) field trip to visit the tribe of kids and see what Doc does when he is not caring for his patients, as he has done for the past 44 years.

I was greeted in the driveway of his country home and walked past the small ornamental ponds, many bird feeders, and several pens that housed guineas, peacocks of at least three species, chickens and rare yellow golden Chinese pheasants. While egg prices continue to rise, with the mild winter, Doc and Jane’s egg harvest has been plentiful. A local food bank is the beneficiary of the bounty.

We made our way to the goat pen where the tribe was huddling near the gate waiting for their morning meal. I was introduced to several new momma goats and over a dozen babies born this past week — as recent as the day before my arrival! Doc called many of the older goats by name, pointing out to me “Joanie’s daughter” (the offspring of an animal named after POMA’s 107th president), among others. He then reached down and picked up a newborn, handing the little furry armful to me. We talked about the remarkable occurrence of two sets of triplets born this year, one goat fostering another’s newborn and the eating habits of the gentle animals. As the newbies bleated and nuzzled me and Doc, I could see the love he has for his animals.

Patiently, he answered my many questions about his past, farming, raising animals and gardening. The only question he wouldn’t answer was where he kept his (A.T.) Still ….