The residents of 75 Old Sudbury Road live off the land that circles their 1723 farm house by raising a variety of animals and growing produce.
The residents of 75 Old Sudbury Road live off the land that circles their 1723 farm house by raising a variety of animals and growing produce.
Credit: Maddie Zajac

Unique Wayland abodes: 75 Old Sudbury Road

The only clue to the pastoral haven that awaits at the top of the long driveway of 75 Old Sudbury Road is the whimsical cow print mailbox.

Owners Heidi Ellis and Christopher Bogan have owned the property of 75 Old Sudbury Road for 11 years. After living in their home in Somerville, MA, the couple decided they wanted to live somewhere with more space and open land. Ellis has always had a strong connection to lifestyle farms, as she grew up on a similar piece of land in Oregon.

“I just really loved and still love the way it keeps you connected with the outside world,” Ellis said

Once they began searching for barns rather than houses, Ellis and Bogan finally found the property that spoke to them. The couple moved into the house in 2013 with two young daughters and later had a third child. Ellis and Bogan were thrilled to continue to grow their farm and family, bringing out the potential they saw in the property.

“We decided that we probably should have miniature cows because who doesn’t love cows?” Ellis said. “And miniature seemed a little more manageable.”

Ellis and Bogan’s first set of calves were the origin of a long line of cows they have owned and raised. From starting with only chickens at their home in Somerville to owning horses, cows, chickens, dogs and cats, Ellis and Bogan have grown a farm much bigger than they ever imagined. Aside from their two cows and singular calf, the family cares for two horses, lots of chickens, multiple cats and a dog.

Though this may sound like a lot of labor, the Bogans only take about 10-15 minutes daily to complete the necessary tasks. Both Ellis and Bogan have full-time jobs to support their family of five, yet they manage to keep their plants and animals healthy and happy. A big factor to this is their families cooperation and responsibilities.

“The kids will do the chores and we trade around some [because] it has to be done,” Ellis said. “It’s not because I’m telling [them] to do a chore, it’s just part of life.”

Ellis and Bogan’s chickens are completely free range, supplying their family with eggs weekly. Along with eggs and fresh fruits and vegetables from their garden, the couple also eats grass fed beef from their cows.

“We’re big believers in farm to table and knowing where your food comes from,” Ellis said. “We haven’t purchased beef at the store for about a decade because we eat our own and it’s as much as we need. You can taste the difference for sure. It’s really good and I know it’s better to have grass fed beef.”

Ellis and Bogan have also used their cows to provide gallons of milk to their family weekly. Milking takes an extra amount of work and time, so the Bogans only do it occasionally, but when they do, they are almost overwhelmed by the amount of milk they get and have to find ways to use it up.

“Sometimes we’ll make cheese, and it’s fun,” Ellis said. “It’s a hobby, but it also ends up taking time.”

The horses at Ellis and Bogan’s home farm are dedicated summer camp ponies, so the couple free-leases them during their off season. This essentially means that the couple cares for the horses free of cost–excluding the necessary purchases for care–and returns them to camp during the summer.

“They’re definitely more work [because] they’re not our regulars,” Ellis said.

Though the family can feel the benefits of a farm to table diet physically, Ellis finds that the more valuable aspects of their lifestyle are the spiritual and emotional ones. The sense of connection to the natural word fuels Ellis’ passion for farming.

“It’s just really honest work,” Ellis said. “You can’t skip it, the animals need to be taken care of and you have to show up for them. It’s a responsibility and everyone in the family plays a role in that. There’s something about that kind of work [that’s] very tangible.”

An unexpected outcome for Bogans is the bond the family has grown with the animals.

“My husband was not an animal guy going into this, he didn’t even have a goldfish as a kid,” Ellis said. “He was totally foreign to this idea and couldn’t really get his head around why [someone] would have an animal. Then we got animals. They adore him and he adores them. They have a real relationship that has come out of nowhere.”

While the life of the Bogans may seem idealistic, like everything, there are challenges that come with the job. The responsibility is the biggest struggle for the Bogan family. Having to care for so many lives can be difficult. Just like pare

nts, the Bogans need to find babysitters for their animals whenever they leave town. Although they have been lucky with finding help, while away from the barn, remaining at ease when traveling and other reasons for departure can be tricky.

“It’s a little bit harder to feel free to just go somewhere,” Ellis said. “At some point we need to get back. The animals need to get fed.”

After living over a decade on a sustainable family farm, the Bogans have learned a lot about animals and farm care. Being a flexible and reliable owner can be complicated and tiring, but with their diligent efforts, the family has managed to maintain a healthy and enjoyable life living on a farm.

“One of the things I’ve learned is that animals are unpredictable,” Ellis said. “There’s always a surprise. You can [try to] imagine how things are gonna go and they’re just not [going to go that way] because [the animals] have personalities. Every animal is different.”

There are different types of reactions the Bogans get when telling others about their work. Some will question and doubt them, wondering how, when and why they put in so much effort for some animals. Then there are people who light up at the sound of this lifestyle and are in awe of it.

“I do think there are people who are oriented differently to no value judgment,” Ellis said. “You can tell there are definitely some people who, instead of looking at [this lifestyle] and [wondering] how it makes sense, they look at it and say ‘that speaks to me.’”

If you are one of those people who hears about the kind of lifestyle that the Bogan family lives and admires the work they do, use their story as inspiration. If you have the time and ability to change your life like Ellis and Bogan did, understand that it may be closer to a reality than you ever imagined.

“It’s a lot more possible than most people think it is,” Ellis said.

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