Enquirer Herald

Clover couple seek to live, raise food ‘the way grandma did’

Dave and Bonita Horne opened The Cabin at Rock Ridge Farm near their home on Ridge Road outside Clover.
Dave and Bonita Horne opened The Cabin at Rock Ridge Farm near their home on Ridge Road outside Clover. news@enquirerherald.com

It started years ago with some chicks for a 4-H project and the desire for a simpler life.

It has led to cattle, hogs and chickens in the fields around a 19th-century historic home.

Dave and Bonita Horne say they cultivate about 80 percent of their own food, from vegetable beds and fruit trees where they grow produce and from livestock they raise.

When friends and others began showing an interest in the natural, home-grown products the Hornes had raised for their own food, the couple began to consider a business venture.

The Hornes recently opened The Cabin at Rock Ridge Farm, a roadside market next to their Ridge Road home that dates to between 1860 and 1880.

The Hornes became a government-certified meat and poultry handler and sell beef, pork, chicken and fresh eggs they raise from their 3.5-acre farm. They also make and sell soap and honey cultivated by local beekeeper Cynthia Robinson, as well as some local handcrafted items.

On April 25, the farm will host an all-day open house, with demonstrations on sustainable-living practices that include beekeeping, blacksmithing, live honey bees, log hewing and running a smokehouse, from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Dave Horne, 53, said he got out of the commercial glass company he owned in Charlotte a decade ago so he could spend more time with family. He now does some property management in addition to running the farm.

“A lot of it had to do with family,” he said. “The children were growing up right before our eyes, and I had an opportunity to finally slow down some and spend more time with them before they were out in college.”

The couple’s initial interest in raising as much of their own food as possible developed into what he now calls a hobby farm.

Bonita, 51, had home-schooled the couple’s three children – now adults – and enjoyed quilting, baking, gardening and canning.

Dave Horne said the farm is unusual in that it offers locally raised, grass-fed beef, pork, chicken and eggs from one location in limited quantities.

The livestock is raised without growth hormones and antibiotics, he said, in keeping with the Hornes’ goal to raise their food as naturally as possible.

“That was really the reason we started raising our own meat,” Bonita said, referring to the livestock. “We wanted to get back to doing it the way grandma used to do it.”

Bonita said the couple hadn’t really thought about selling the meat until friends who tasted it at their home encouraged them.

“They said, ‘There is a market for this; people are looking for this,’” she said.

The Hornes’ livestock includes five Belted Galloways, a heritage breed of beef cattle; a black Angus; four Yorkshire Duroc hogs; and Cornish cross roosters, a chicken raised for broiler meat.

They also have several different kinds of laying hens and some Gulf Coast sheep.

Dave, who owns more property at a separate location, said he would like to expand the herd of cattle.

The Hornes also sell some of the seasonal fruits and vegetables they grow for their own food in raised beds and in a small peach and apple orchard behind the cabin. Dave said they raise squash, zuccini, okra, lettuce, carrots, sugar snap peas, broccoli, corn, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes and kale.

“We have what most of the local guys have, but we have it on a smaller scale,” Dave said. “We eat what we grow and try to keep it as natural as possible. We’re not doing 20 acres; it’s all mainly raised-bed gardening.”

The meat, honey and eggs are their most popular products, he said.

“When we started this, I said I’d rather do a few things really good than a whole bunch of things mediocre,” he said.

Dave said he and Bonita both grew up in Charlotte, where they attended high school and got married. They moved to the York area in 1993, seeking a smaller community to raise their family.

“We wanted to give our kids a slower pace of life,” Bonita said.

She said their interest in raising livestock actually started with a 4-H project for their children, who raised chickens.

“That was one of the big reasons we moved here,” she said of the Clover farm. “We wanted to get into raising our own meat and have the animals we have here.”

In 2005, they purchased and moved to the Ridge Road Farm. Dave, a building contractor, spent two years phasing out his commercial glass business to enable himself to spend more time at home.

He restored the two-story house, which twice has been a site on the Clover Woman’s Club holiday home tour.

Dave also used reclaimed wood and bricks from other historic structures to build The Cabin and several other buildings on the farm, including a garden shed, a smokehouse and chicken coops. The reclaimed wood and other materials he used gives the farm an authentic historic look.

“I love history, so we re-created some of the old buildings here, and we put in an 1860s traditional smokehouse,” he said.

Dave built the smokehouse using bricks from a historic church in Laurens and roofing from a building at Historic Brattonsville. The couple smoke and cure their own ham and bacon but are not certified to sell it; Dave said he would like to become certified in the future.

Bonita said the farm is a lot of work, but that to them it has become a lifestyle.

“To us, it’s a great life,” she said. “It’s the perfect life.”

Jennifer Becknell •  803-329-4077

Want to go?

The Cabin at Rock Ridge Farm, a roadside market at 524 Ridge Road in Clover, will host a farm day featuring sustainable living practices April 25.

Demonstrations will include beekeeping at 9:30 a.m., blacksmithing at 10 a.m., live honey bees at 11 a.m., log hewing at 11:30 a.m. and a smokehouse demonstration at 12:30 p.m.

The farm sells grass-fed beef, pork, chicken and eggs, as well as honey by Cynthia Robinson and handcrafts including pottery, soap and woodworking. Meats are free of antibiotics and growth hormones.

Cabin hours are 1-6 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays. Appointments are available during the week.

Details: 704-361-1371.