In my everyday life, I’m connected: connected to my friends on social media, my emails and text messages. Like a large percentage of the human population, I, too, have a smartphone that I couldn’t do without. Recently, however, I experienced a different kind of connection, one I don’t experience often enough — to land and food — at Hunter Cattle Company in Brooklet, Ga.
Despite the rain, I put my boots on and ventured about 14 miles southeast of town to taste my first grass-fed hamburger and meet the good folks behind this family owned and operated farm I’d heard so much about. On my ride down the two-lane country roads to get there, I passed cotton fields and pecan orchards and a deer that never had a chance. I came upon the 350-acre property and turned onto the dirt road that led me to MooMa’s Farm Store. Immediately, I spotted a few cats — one golden, fat kitty asleep under a bush and another gray kitty purring happily, curled up in a ball on the porch. Having grown up in rural Georgia myself, I felt at home as I entered the screeching screen door to the store. Cast iron pans served as wall art on the outside of the red barn-like exterior.
Over nine years ago, Del and Debra Ferguson, along with their oldest son and daughter, found the land and decided to relocate there to raise their families and grow their own food. Today, the family’s “accidental business” provides grass-fed beef to restaurants all over southeast Georgia — many right here in Statesboro, including Chops on Main and South & Vine Public House, and the popular Green Truck Pub and Moon River Brewery in Savannah.
Local businesses including Sugar Magnolia Bakery also sell Hunter Cattle Company’s free-range eggs. You may have seen them for sale at the Mainstreet Statesboro Farmers’ Market and the Forsyth Farmers’ Market in Savannah. Most recently, Hunter Cattle Company placed first for its pork sausage in the meat category of the 2013 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest sponsored by the University of Georgia. The company has been featured in publications including Southern Living magazine, South Magazine and Savannah Magazine among countless other news outlets, building its reputation solely by word of mouth.
Now, about that hamburger. I could try to describe the flavor to you, but I like the way my friend Chad, a butcher, described the difference between grass-fed cattle and “factory” farm meat: “It’s like Chips Ahoy versus mom’s homemade cookies.”
Hunter Cattle Company’s passion for education is evident. The animals receive no added growth hormones, steroids or antibiotics and are not subject to feedlots or cages. Committed to the humane treatment of all the animals, the pigs and chickens are free to roam and graze and are raised on Georgia grass. There are even peacocks and turkeys!
If Southern hospitality describes anyone, it would be the Ferguson family. They fed me, showed me around and even sent me home with a Hunter Cattle Company T-shirt. By the end of my time there, I was hugging their necks and feeling like one of the family. Regardless of whether you’re from around these parts, make time to visit Hunter Cattle Company. From birthday parties to overnight accommodations, it has it all. Most importantly, though, you’ll be reminded what it’s like to hear the chickens peck, smell the cow manure and watch little boys drink from a garden hose.
Rebekah Faulk is a local food writer and blogger at Some Kinda Good, a Southern, coastal food blog highlighting East coast restaurant reviews and Lowcountry-inspired recipes. Email her at SKGFoodBlog@gmail.com.