The foretold menagerie of Old McCaskill’s Farm located between Camden and Boykin, South Carolina, would not be visible until daybreak. Having arrived after darkness fell, we navigated our way into the farmhouse courtesy of the innkeeper’s illuminated front porch light. How welcoming, I thought; only in the South does this beacon mean so much more than simply a lighted path. Our hosts would not arrive until later when we would be fast asleep, but make yourself at home, they instructed. We climbed the wooden staircase to The Horse Paddock, our room for the night, deposited our luggage, and searched out the kitchen for a snack.
Returning downstairs, the braided rugs softened our steps. Immediately, the antique treadle organ that framed the cozy entrance ferried me to the days when my feet and fingers struggled to work in tandem. There was a living room, an office, a sewing room filled with works in progress and an elegant dress form. A memory emerged of the days sitting with mama at a much older Singer machine creating garments.
Finding the kitchen, we knew this undeniable fact; here, as at every B&B, there would always be food waiting no matter the hour. I grabbed a couple of home-baked cookies and brewed a cup of coffee while my husband surveyed the kitchen. In the adjacent laundry room, we heard sounds we learned later to be Zeke, a 15-year-old border collie and the star of the farm. He eyed us with annoyance at our disturbance and settled back down, as did we after our late arrival.
Life on the Farm
Morning broke, and we were anxious for introductions. Kathy and Lee McCaskill welcomed us before our feet hit the last rung of the staircase. Ushering us into the kitchen, we sat at the farmhouse table (once a pocket door from Pine Grove Plantation, Rembert) crafted by Lee. Before us, a farm-to-table breakfast complete with fresh eggs and homemade jams to fuel our day.
As we feasted, the story of the 12-acre farm unfolded. Lee, a carpenter and contractor, built their home in 1989, but a fire destroyed everything in 2007. Again, he went to work, constructing the quintessential Southern farmhouse, which by the time of completion, was too big for two. Although they began with no intent of a bed and breakfast, the idea flourished, as did their entire farm landscape.
They furnished the home and its four rooms-for-rent with antiques “to create the feel of a farmhouse, making people feel at home,” according to Kathy. Although the farm is not an interactive one, the McCaskill’s invite guests to wander among the other dwellers — guineas, Yorkshire pigs, goats, chickens, mallard ducks, sheep — to become a character in their story, observing the day-to-day workings of the farm. You can roam through the gardens, shop at the country store and if you’re there on any Friday, gather with the community at lunchtime for the farm’s Meat + 3, a tradition started by their daughter, Ashley.
After breakfast, we walked the land, skimmed the pond’s edge, strolled through the gardens, and ended near the brooder, where a collection of chickens, ducklings and turkeys meandered. Next door, the country store ushered in the feel of yesterday. Here, shop for trinkets or for supper, where commercially certified collections of Kathy’s jams, pickles and relishes line the shelves and farm-fresh meats of lamb, pork, beef and goat fill the coolers.
For me, it was the shelves of woolen blankets, wraps, mittens and hats of every hue that captured my fancy. These creations were from her Dorset breed of sheep, a cross between a southwest England breed and a Spanish Merino sheep that would withstand South
Carolina heat and spring shearing. Once sheered, the virgin wool was shipped to MacAusland’s Woolen Mills on Prince Edward Island in Canada.
Then we met Gus, the farm’s primary herder of all animals and Zeke’s grandson. We walked to the front pasture where dozens of sheep grazed leisurely, that is until Kathy and Gus walked through the gate. With a hasty command from Kathy, the border collie crouched to the ground, eyeing the group and the strays, calculating his next move. Another communication from Kathy, and Gus sprinted, changing the flock’s direction instantly and then reversing his movements as needed.
Old McCaskill’s Farm holds three yearly events: Country Christmas (December 1-10), Fall Farm Day (October) and Spring Sheering (May). This holiday season, the farm will feature handcrafted items, including jewelry, cutting boards, leather goods, tack, and so much more. And, of course, woolen blankets.
It’s a getaway that takes you back home. Moments that trigger memories, and with so much to do, visitors are bound to create new ones. Experience this holiday season and true Southern hospitality on the farm.