Bell Family Farm opened in June of 2021 and is the culmination of a dream for husband and wife, Ray and Sarah Bell.
Born and raised in Long Island, Ray spent his weekends with his grandfather, "Gramps", in rural, upstate New York at Gramp's country cabin, helping him chop wood, build sheds, and take care of the land. Sarah grew up in a small village in coastal Maine, where one of her first jobs was to bait lobster traps.
They met in 2010 and married three years later, spending their newlywed years in New Orleans, where Ray worked as a commercial deep sea diver in the Gulf of Mexico and Sarah worked in non profit. They moved to Davenport, Florida, in 2015 and opened several service related companies before deciding they had enough of living and working in the hustle and bustle of the Disney corridor.
They wanted to go back to the country living they loved so much.
In June of 2020, they purchased the nearly 14 acres in Polk City that is home to Bell Family Farm. Not long after moving and settling in, Gramps gifted them Charlie and Alfie, the miniature zebu.
Thus began Ray and Sarah's vision of creating a family farm on which they could share with others their love of animals. "We spent so much time with the zebu, and our lives just got fuller and more meaningful. We had to find a way for people to enjoy these special creatures, too," said Sarah.
Ray had the idea first. "Let's open a petting farm!" Sarah was resistant at first, but Ray convinced her that people would both love and need a petting farm. The Covid-19 pandemic was in full force, people were looking to find more safe, outdoor activities.
In the late spring of 2021, they brought home Bonk and Tuck, their first two goats. Sarah remembers, "Even when we went to dairy farm to pick them up, I kept thinking, 'Oh gosh, this is a bad idea. What do I know about goats?!'" But as soon as the goats were loaded into the cab of their pick up truck and Bonk laid his head on Sarah's chest and fell asleep, she was hooked on goats. "She turned and looked at me," Ray recalls, "and said, 'I want more.'"
Now home to nearly 40 animals, Ray and Sarah can be found most days either giving personally-led farm tours, working on on their land gardening, building fences and coops, or just sitting with their animals in the pens and pastures, bonding with the goats and pigs, laughing at the ducks and even cradling their favorite chicken, Willie Mae Hen.
Ray and Sarah want everyone who visits their farm to share the joy of interacting with social, friendly and often comedic animals. Together, they say, "We want you to feel part of the family -- our human family and our animal family. Have fun, enjoy the animals, and see this lifestyle is completely attainable. We want to share our dreams with you."