Hunter Cattle Company
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. Over the weekend 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, Georgia.
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 (pictured left), 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 like Chops on Main and South & Vine Public House and at Savannah’s popular Green Truck Pub and Moon River Brewery.
Local businesses like Sugar Magnolia Bakery also sell Hunter Cattle Company’s free-range eggs. They participate in the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers’ Market (which kicks off April 6 this spring!) and the Forsyth Farmers’ Market in Savannah. Most recently, Hunter Cattle Company earned the University of Georgia sponsored 2013 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest in the meat category for their pork sausage. They’ve been featured in Southern Living magazine, The South magazine and Savannah magazine among countless other news outlets, solely by word of mouth.
Now, about that hamburger. I could try and describe the flavor to you, but I like the way my butcher friend, Chad of Carne Bellingham, described the difference between grass-fed cattle vs. “factory” farm meat best: “It’s like Chips Ahoy versus mom’s homemade cookies.”
Hunter Cattle Company’s passion for education is evident. Their 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. After spending just a few hours at the farm, I was enlightened to learn:
- Factory farms use 80% of the United States’ antibiotic supply for livestock
- If cows, chickens and pigs are given the ability to roam freely and eat what they were created to eat, they are healthier, and as a result so are we!
- Livestock living conditions and diet are key factors when considering healthy benefits of American meat
I will certainly never look at a package of ground beef at the grocery store the same again!
If you’ve never had the opportunity to see a newborn baby pig, it’s a must. The pigs were my favorite part of the day.
They even have 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. Whether you’re local or not from around these parts, make time to visit Hunter Cattle Company. From birthday parties to overnight accommodations, they have 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.