House of the Week: Owner will miss her lovingly renovated Canastota horse farm. Her horses will too.

CANASTOTA, N.Y. – Darlene Sandlin says she considers herself to be “a mildly spiritual person.”

However, when she walks the 204 acres of her horse farm at 3863 Cottons Road, near Canastota, she experiences feelings like no where else, overcome by a “sense of comfort and peace.”

“There is something about it,” she said. “The feelings I have are like nothing I have felt for another home.”

When Sandlin started her horse boarding and riding business there, she named her property “Fair Haven Farm,” a nod to the sense of peace and serenity she felt there.

The Kansas City-native had no idea that there was a popular State Park with the same name, probably because she was so busy renovating the home and starting her own business.

“I have poured my heart and soul into this place,” Sandlin said.

She purchased the property in 2002. She had been working as an assistant rider and trainer for Beezie and John Madden. While not being able to ride horses after an injury, she decided to look for a new place.

The property at Cottons Road had been used as a dairy farm for the past 60 years and had been in the same family since 1815.

When she first saw it, Sandlin said the property was in “fairly bad shape.”

The main farmhouse, built in 1870, had not undergone any type of renovation since 1950.

A cistern with a jet pump and garden hose provided water to the kitchen sink. The wind blew so hard through cracks in a downstairs bedroom that plaster flew off the walls. The linoleum flooring used upstairs had copies of newspapers from 1928 underneath. The barn had not been used in years and wild animals had taken up residence.

Sandlin said it was “rustic” to say the least.

But Sandlin saw something in the place and believed in its potential.

“When I walked into the house, I saw that structurally it was in good shape” she said. “I loved the fact that it was old. It had withstood everything.”

Sandlin knew what she had and what she wanted. She got to work, doing all the drawing, sketching, and measuring for her home and horse business.

The farmhouse was rebuilt to exacting standards and all but one wall inside was “taken down to the studs.”

New windows, a new kitchen, surround sound, foam insulation, and new ceilings were installed.

The original stand-alone barn has three horse stalls, a workshop, and hayloft.

The all-new heated and insulated main barn has 17 stalls, two wash stalls, a grooming area with a central vacuuming system, tack room, laundry area, full bathroom, and a full loft for storage or to hold events like weddings in.

Hoping to avoid Central New York’s “horrific” winters, Sandlin designed it so that the main barn is connected by covered “alleyways” to a horse-exerciser building and a magnificent 80-foot-by-200-foot indoor arena.

Sandlin lived at the property while the work was being done, which was finished in 2010.

The work had gone even better than she had anticipated.

“I love this place so much,” she said. “I love the house. I love the facilities. The land is beautiful. And the horses are so happy there.”

She calls it a “very difficult decision to sell.”

“I wish I could bring it all with me,” Sandlin said.

“And my horses do too.”

For more information about this property, please contact Realtors Mary Anne Cramer or Peter J. Babbles of RE/Max Masters or Allen Olmsted of Canaan Realty. Their info is below.


Address: 3863 Cottons Road, Canastota, N.Y. 13032

Price: $1,500,000

Size: 1,924 square feet (farmhouse)

Acreage: 204 acres

Monthly Mortgage: $4,982 (based on the national average rate of 2.88%, according to Freddie Mac on September 23, for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20% down payment. Fees and points not included.)

Taxes: $22,122 (Based on assessed value of $552,000)

Built: 1870

School District: Canastota

Kitchen: Darlene Sandlin’s friends have told her that she has the “best kitchen to work in.” The all-new space was designed by Syracuse’s Modern Kitchens. The totally renovated kitchen features new “top-of-the-line” appliances and custom cherry cabinetry. The stove area and backsplash were designed by her. There is a breakfast area which overlooks her birdfeeders in a crab apple tree, it is a favorite spot for her morning coffee. The space is a nod to the original owners who kept their kitchen table there. “It is really cool” she said. The kitchen has access to the new Ipe wood deck, which promises not to rot. “It is very nice to sit there,” she said.

Living areas: This 1870 farmhouse has been completely renovated to exacting standards. Sandlin took all but one interior wall “down to the studs.” The bright living room opens into the formal dining room which seats at least 10 people comfortably. There is a new gas fireplace in the living room which “heats up the whole house,” crowned by a custom mantel. The dining room has a wood-burning fireplace. Sandlin keeps a home office in a first-floor bedroom. Visitors enter the home through a front porch which is used as a three-season room. With its many windows, plants can grow there all year.

Bedrooms: There are now two bedrooms in the home. The owner’s suite upstairs is spacious, it takes up nearly half of the second floor, and has a walk-through closet. The first-floor guest bedroom also has its own bathroom. It was once the home’s main bedroom. It has a “standard-sized” closet.

Bathrooms: The home has two bathrooms. The owner’s bath upstairs has double vanities and a Jacuzzi-style tub and shower. The first-floor full bathroom has a big shower unit.

Barns and horse arena: Sandlin has created a “premier facility” for horse boarding and training at her “Fair Haven Farm” She calls the indoor jumping arena she designed to be the “nicest I have ever ridden in” with windows all around for natural light and heating which keeps it warm all winter long. Connected to the new main barn and horse exerciser building by “alleyways,” the arena is 80-feet-by-200-feet. The main barn is insulated and heated and has a central vacuum system. There are 17 stalls, two wash stalls, a tack room, full bathroom, a grooming area, laundry room, and a full loft with hay drop. The space could be used for large events like weddings. The smaller old barn has three stalls, a workshop, hay loft, and storage.

Outdoors: The 204 acres of peaceful farmland was one of the first things which caused Sandlin to fall in love with the property. She is has feelings of “comfort and peace” while riding her horses there. The grounds feature pastures, a running stream, riding trails, and nine paddocks. Fields are used by farmers to grow crops and Sandlin has grown her own hay there. The farm is located just minutes from the New York State Thruway.

Agent: Mary Anne Cramer

RE/MAX Masters

Address: 5788 Widewaters Parkway, DeWitt, N.Y. 13214

Phone: (315) 671-1624 (direct) or (315) 427-5849 (cell)

Email: [email protected]


Agent: Allen Olmsted

Canaan Realty

Address: 8645 East Seneca Turnpike, Manlius, N.Y. 13104

Phone: (315) 682-4500 (direct) and (315) 374-1032 (cell)

Email: [email protected]


Agent: Peter J. Babbles

RE/MAX Masters

Address: 16 Jordan Street, Skaneateles, N.Y. 13152

Phone: (315) 727-0204

Email: [email protected]


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