FREDERICKTOWN — Bob Haskins had been running a dairy operation on a farm that had been in his family for 191 years. The farm was in Geauga County, not far from Chagrin Falls. It was a life that he and his wife Jan loved. There was just one problem.
“We were surrounded by developments,” he said. “There was one of them right across the road that had bought my uncle’s farm. My uncle and my dad had an agreement that when they divided the farm, if one of them wanted to sell, the other would have a chance to buy it. But the developer could pay a lot more for the farm. My uncle died probably before he even got the money [for the farm]. My dad died three months later.”
Bob and Jan were married in 1965, right after graduating from The Ohio State University. That was right after Bob’s uncle’s farm was sold.
“People advised us that we would be smart to sell it,” he explained. “It had been in the family since 1818. Nobody else had ever owned the farm.”
The Haskinses continued to work the farm, raising a herd of dairy cattle and watching the rural landscape around them turn suburban. Finally they decided they had to do something. They could not expand their farm, and the conflict between farm and suburban residents was looming on the horizon.
“We moved here [to Knox County] in April,” Haskins said. “We had been looking for a couple of years. Then a friend of my son’s, Lyle Ruprecht, who lives just a couple of miles down the road, told us about it. His family had moved here from Medina County and they were real helpful giving us advice about what it was like to do that.”
There were about 160 acres left of the old family farm in Geauga County. The farm in Knox County is about 225.
The Haskinses bought the farm and moved their operation, lock, livestock and barrel. It was not a task for the feint of heart. Rather than sell their old herd and buy new stock here, they moved the entire herd to Knox County. They have 57 cows and a number of bred heifers, so Haskins estimates they will have over 70 animals by fall.
The Haskinses found a lot of advantages to Knox County, other than the ability to expand.