Moving and subsequently expanding a farm is never easy. But for Sara Spahn, purchasing five acres from her mother, Lori Winston, added another dynamic that made the sale last July atypical from many real estate transactions.
Spahn, along with her husband, Erik, and their children, Mason, 9, and Cole, 8, used to cross Clyde, NY, twice daily from their home to care for the animals housed at her mother’s farm. The Spahns’ property was too small and not zoned for agricultural use.
Meanwhile, Winston wanted to downsize to a property easier for her to care for. A smaller house and less land would free up more of her time to travel and engage in activities she enjoys. She suggested the property sale to Spahn and her husband. The three agreed the transactions would benefit everyone involved, from the adults to the children to the animals, too.
Winston lives in the Spahns’ former home in town and the Spahns live in the farmhouse at the edge of town. Since the two homes are just minutes away, Winston can easily visit her daughter and her family — along with the animals — anytime she wants. Without all that land maintenance, she can also take trips whenever the travel bug bites.
The boys have their own bedrooms and more room to play outside. Best of all, the family doesn’t have to travel across town a couple times a day for chores. If the animals experience an emergency, the Spahns are on-site.
The family also has access to high speed internet, a necessity for Erik, who works as a computer engineer. Since Busy Bee Farm lies just outside the village limits, the property is zoned for agricultural, yet it’s very close to the Clyde Farmers Market, where Spahn sells produce and her homemade jelly and jam.
Since the property sales last July, Spahn has been busy as bee at her aptly named Busy Bee Farm. She has been installing new chicken coops for her 30 chickens and plans to start constructing fences for the herd of heritage pigs she hopes to purchase soon. She is phasing out the miniature pigs. Spahn is working on moving her apiary. She also raises a few ducks, meat goats and dairy goats.
She’s also beginning repairs on the roofs to the farm’s buildings. When Spahn had borrowed space at the farm from her mom, she felt hesitant to invest much in its structures and land since she did not own them at the time.
The additional elbow space also allows Spahn to grow more of the produce she needs for the jelly and jam that she sells at a few local stores and the Clyde Farmers Market.
Spahn obtained a home processing certification to sell her products publically. She already knew how to make them.
“I grew up on a farm and my mother, grandmother and father’s side canned and had animals before it was cool and mainstream,” Spahn said. “I’d started making jam and people thought I should sell it.”
Spahn had worked as a licensed vet technician until 2013 when she began home educating her children. In addition to her farm operation, she also provides professional grooming services.
Joining the Wayne County Bee Club has helped Spahn better care for her tiniest farm creatures, though she said, “It’s been a real learning process. Bees amaze and frustrate me.”
This year, she purchased several fruit trees to expand her produce offerings, and become more sustainable. She hopes to garden more this season than she did last so she has more to offer at the local farmers market. She usually sells three to four dozen eggs weekly to regular customers as well.
Last season represented a time of transition for Busy Bee Farm. Moving mid-season didn’t allow her much time to make many of the changes she had wanted to make on the farm. Spahn hopes to continue to grow and improve the farm this year so she can provide more local food for her neighborhood.