With the approach of spring, the calendar is starting to get busy — just as the flowers and trees are starting to come back to life, so are the seasonal businesses. I know of two wineries that opened for the season on Saturday, March 4, 2017, one of which we got to in the afternoon (that will probably be the next story I post), and we will probably get to the other winery in a week or so. It was also opening day for Hancock Family Farms (click here to see their address, driving directions, etc.), about a half hour south of us. We’ve been following farmer David Hancock, Jr. on Facebook for a while, where he is quite active in writing, photographing, and videoing updates about what’s going on at the farm.
It was from Hancock’s postings on Facebook that we learned they were opening for the season on Saturday, and we made plans to be there. Unfortunately, they chose what turned out to be one of the colder days of this balmy winter — around 40° F when we got there. It was also breezy, which only intensified the chill. Needless to say, in that weather we chose not take a convertible for the morning’s drive.
Upon getting out of our mini-van, we were struck by several things: the beauty of the place and the day, the farmhouse and huge trees (I stepped back and back to get the picture, but still didn’t quite get the very top of that one tree into my shot), and, of course, the smell of manure — it wouldn’t be a farm without that, would it? After taking a couple photos, we then headed over to the shed where they were set-up to sell their products.
Shopping at Hancock Family Farms
Inside, there were six or seven customers milling about, looking for various items, along with several folks working the space, pointing out where certain items could be found. The shed (as I’m calling it, though it may have started life as a two-car garage, or something else altogether), has openings on three sides, so didn’t offer a lot of protection from the wind and chill. There were a few propane heaters scattered around, but they didn’t feel like they helped a lot.
As you enter the shed, to your right are several large freezers along the wall where they keep meats. Next, along the space in front of the back wall, are a row of ice chests, for much the same purpose. Then, along the left wall, there are a couple of tables; one in the far back corner is where eggs are being washed and put into cartons (photo in the gallery below). Then near the front is a table where you go to check out; there, a woman with a calculator, a tablet connected to a credit-card reader, and a cash box waits to serve you.
I stepped through the left side of the shed to get a shot of the sheep and goats in a pen next door (photo in the gallery below). Just as I finished taking pictures, a strong wind swept through the area and a bunch of Styrofoam egg cartons came swirling out of the shed from where they had been waiting to be filled with newly cleaned eggs. Fortunately, I was able to snag five or six of the cartons before they flew off, and handed them to one of the workers who had also grabbed several cartons dancing in the breeze (she had an easier go of it, being three or four decades younger than yours truly) — disaster averted!
Inside, my wife Cindy was looking through the inventory. She had picked-up some cheese (from Clover Hill Dairy in Mechanicsville) and also a lovely ribeye steak (you’ll probably see that steak as the subject of a future post — we plan to cook it sous vide). I got in line in front of the women washing and packing eggs, and was able to get a dozen. I’m pretty sure it’s a sign of how fresh they are when they’re still washing them off before they put them in the carton.
Although he was quite busy, I did manage to get a minute to introduce myself to Hancock, telling him I had been following him on Facebook. Although he was clearly in a hurry, he graciously stopped to shake my hand, and say thanks for coming out today. It is obvious from his posts and videos that Hancock really cares — about his customers and his business. Check-out his heart-felt thank-you video to his customers on Saturday (just ignore the backward lettering on his jacket and the sign behind him — I’m pretty sure that’s because he is using the forward-facing camera on his phone, so it’s a mirror image; if he was using the camera on the back of the phone, the letters wouldn’t be reversed).
Hancock Family Farms photo gallery
If you have the chance to get to Hancock Family Farms, please let us know about your experience. We think it’ll be a good one. ♦