by Rachel Wingo Driggers, Doko Farm volunteer

The day begins at Doko Farm with the sounds of several roosters crowing at the edge of the large pasture. From the top of the pasture, you can hear the quiet conversation of Buckeye and Americana hens and plaintive quacks of Cayuga and Saxony ducks begging to be let out of their safe hutch now that the sky is pink.

The St. Croix sheep are already up and about at the far end of the pasture where they look like white clouds. The Narragansett turkeys are waiting at the door of their tractor-style hutch to be released, so they can fly up and mingle with the other poultry. Xenia, the tireless and dedicated Great Pyrenees, listens to all of this, and watches every flicker of wing and every movement of the sheep. And this is only sunrise at one pasture!

Six Generations on the Land

Doko Farm is cradled in the Cedar Creek community in Blythewood, South Carolina, about thirty minutes north of Columbia. Amanda and Joe Jones live and work on land that has been occupied and farmed by Joe’s family since 1839. This is where they raise their heritage livestock, their kitchen garden, their bees for farm honey, and most importantly, their daughter, Phoebe.

They live in the same farmhouse that has been home now to six generations of Joe’s family, restored to meet their family’s needs. Their meat producing and breeding animals live in excellent style as well, in extensively fenced pastures so that they can roam freely and safely.

Larry and Potter, the two other beautiful Great Pyrenees that monitor the farm and help protect the animals from outside predators, guard the female and male pygmy and pygmy-cross goats. Many of the goats are retained from year to year for breeding. Bambi is the star of the female pen. As a pygmy-cross she is taller than her co-habitants and is a bit braver when it comes to people, too. This past year, six kids were born, and four of those were sold as pets. Doko Farm sells their goats in pairs (unless the buyer already owns goats), in order to ensure that none of their goats raised in a herd environment will then be raised alone.

Heritage Breeds

Just down from the goat yards is another pasture, this one mostly wooded, where the guinea hogs live. These hogs root freely, and feast on organic mill waste from Anson Mills in Columbia. At the time of this writing, four new piglets had just made their home here. The guinea hogs are raised for heritage pork production, and their processing, like the processing of all of the meat animals found on Doko Farm, is performed at an Animal Welfare Approved and certified humane facility in Kingstree. These guinea hogs are prized for the quality of their fat, but because of their size (they are shorter in stature than the pig breeds currently raised on an industrial scale), they are rarely raised. In fact, there are only about 600 registered breeding guinea hogs raised in the United States today.

The poultry raised on pasture are raised for breeding, laying, and meat production. The chickens are Buckeye and Americana. Their eggs, because their diet includes open pasture, have a richer taste and stand up well in the pan.

The Cayuga and Saxony ducks are also being raised for meat production, but keep offering eggs, without being asked, as a side benefit. The ducks have a paddle pond for drinking and splashing, in order to keep them out of the sheeps’ water trough.

The St. Croix sheep are raised purely for meat production because their meat is high quality, a feature for which this breed was intentionally developed. The sheep love to follow behind the chicken hutches to clean up any scraps of chicken feed that may have been dropped by careless hens. The sheep are currently being bred so are all together, with the exception of one ewe that is already pregnant. Amanda and Joe hope that they have timed this breeding and lambing cycle just right; Amanda especially, since they are expecting their second child and do not want everyone born at the same time.

Creating Community at the Farm

Doko Farm offers on-farm sale days where they sell their meat products and eggs, and more informal visits if a customer calls ahead of time. Sometimes, people nearby call ahead and drive out to the farm to pick up their eggs for their weekend brunches.

Amanda and Joe have created a place for a community farm, where people care about getting their eggs and meat from them rather than stopping by the grocery as an afterthought.

Other farm products cannot be picked up as casually, namely the turkeys that are processed in time for Thanksgiving each year. These Narragansett turkeys are known for their flavor, which is again bolstered by the fact that they are raised on open pasture. The waiting list for a Thanksgiving turkey usually starts in August, and prices are more than you’d pay for a store bought turkey. Doko Farm turkeys are worth every penny, though.

In short, Doko Farm is a family operation with a history that is, and a future that should prove, impressive. Doko Farm’s offering of humanely raised heritage meats and animal products has created a place for the farm in the hearts and minds of the community. Amanda and Joe’s willingness to host guests for tours, offer open farm days, and train willing volunteers has also created a ripple effect. Because Doko Farm offers more, people expect more. To know more about where their food comes from, to understand more about how a farm works, and to offer more of themselves as part of a community of food and friends.

> Learn more about Doko Farm at sites.google.com/site/dokofarm/ or “Like” them on Facebook.