‘He never quit’: Chicken farmer’s sudden death leaves family struggling to cope

Andover. A family friend is conducting a fundraiser so that Ray Nuvolone’s wife and daughter can keep his dream alive.

| 07 Dec 2021 | 06:51

Raymond M. Nuvolone loved his family, his friends, his customers, and his chicken farm. His sudden death on Oct. 2 shocked everyone who knew him.

“Ray passed away unexpectedly,” said his wife of 23 years, Viviane Nuvolone. “Prior to Ray passing away, he was not sick. We were told afterward that a narrowing of his arteries caused him to have a sudden heart attack.”

After a back injury left Viviane unable to work, the farm chores fell solely on Ray and their daughter. Elizabeth, 20, is now going it alone.

The Nuvolones started in 2016 with their our own personal chickens. “We grew to fall in love with all different breeds of chickens and realized we wanted to spread chicken love to others,” Viviane said. “Ray’s interest grew with all the research he did, and we decided to start our own family business.”

In 2017 they opened New Jersey Chickens/V&R Homestead, located on the family’s property in Andover.

“In the beginning, managing the farm was overwhelming, and trying to comprehend what my husband did on a daily basis was intimidating,” Viviane said. After Ray’s death, she said, “I sat down with my daughter and older children, and we planned how we could continue.”

Viviane was an emergency medical technician (EMT) for 23 years. While responding to a 911 call last year, she was injured and needed surgery to correct it. “I was lifting a patient and really hurt my back,” she said. “I have not been able to work since.”

‘Always there for my family’

Before her father’s death, Elizabeth would fill in whenever her parents needed an extra pair of hands. “For example,” she said, “I’d close up at night on the farm, meaning I’d put away all the feeders, make sure they had fresh water at all times, and that they were always clean. I would take over for the most of the summer for my mother when she needed to have her back surgery. I would take care of picking up all equipment that my father needed while he worked on the farm, also raising and taking care of the pullets.”

Her role expanded with her mother’s injury, then expanded some more. “I’m thankful for the time my mother couldn’t work as much with my father because I got the chance to learn everything I need to know about breeding/raising all kinds of chickens,” she said. “After my father passed away I took on all of my father’s duties and more, such as taking care and keeping up with the farm, studying up on breeds and how to breed them, cleaning and feeding the chickens, as well as making sure to keep up with all necessities the chickens and the farm itself will need.”

Elizabeth said she gave up a dream of studying zoology, and another of becoming a writer.

“I really hoped to somehow get a deal or scholarship in studying abroad to learn about many different species of animals,” she said. “I decided to not go ahead with my plans to attend college to keep the family business going. I want to make sure I am always there for my family.”

When her little brother, Hunter, was born in 2016, she made sure she was always available whenever her parents needed her. “Hunter is now five years old and I have taken over all duties on the farm,” Elizabeth said. “I have always been a role model to him, as my father said, but now I am more than that. I am a mentor now. When I’m not with my little brother all I think about is him and what more I can do for him. I have always been there to teach him, and play games with him.”

Elizabeth couldn’t even begin to say what an amazing man her father was. “He is the reason why I keep waking up in the morning and continuing the business as well as my little brother,” she said.

R&V sells chicks, pullets, roosters, and laying hens, and hatches eggs all year ‘round. For those who want to buy chickens but don’t want to raise the chicks, RV Homestead offers a raise-my-chick service. People can pick out the chicks they want, and Nuvolones will raise them for you until they are coop ready.

Besides Viviane, Elizabeth, and Hunter, Ray leaves behind stepdaughter Cynthia and stepson Chukor.

“Ray was a great friend, an amazing father,” said Jerry Carfagno. “He was a brother to many and always had an amazing smile laugh and work ethic. He worked on the farm day to night. He met one of his idols, Melissa Gilbert, from ‘Little House on the Prairie’ who actually bought chickens from him. His daughter said he loved ‘Rocky’ as much as I did, so I guess Ray didn’t hear any quittin’ bell. He never quit on this farm. It was his dream.”

Carfagno would love to have a sign made to go in front of V&R Homestead Chicken Farm, possibly bearing Ray’s picture.

“I think it would drive his business,” he said. “He was an amazing father husband and businessman. If you ever met him, within 15 minutes you would consider him a friend.”

Saving Ray’s dream

Christine Graham is organizing a fundraiser for the family.

“I am asking for donations to help Ray Nuvolone’s family keep running the Homestead farm that was Ray’s dream,” she said. “After Ray’s devastating sudden passing, his wife, Viviane, and daughter, Elizabeth, have been taking care of the farm daily that Ray has worked so hard on. The Nuvolone family is still feeling the shocking loss of losing Ray. He was a wonderful loving husband and amazing caring nurturing father who loved spending his days on the farm working hard on the property and caring for his animals and chickens. Ray loved his family and farm very much.”

The Nuvolone family has now temporarily run into some financial difficulties in running the farm, she said, and they owed taxes on the property.

“This has been added upsetment and stress on the family,” she said. “Any donations will be greatly appreciated and will be a help with the financial burden the Nuvolones are now facing.”

The link to the fundraising site is gofund.me/2f796f2d. You can see the chicken farm’s website at: https://vr-homestead.business.site.

The farm is located at 40 Lenape Road, Andover, NJ. Call 201-539-1519 for more information.

“He was a brother to many and always had an amazing smile laugh and work ethic. Ray didn’t hear any quittin’ bell. He never quit on this farm. It was his dream.” Jerry Carfagno