There’s a free-range lifestyle going on over at a ranch in St. Stephen, SC and I am loving it. Do you like your free-range goat to hang out with your free-range chickens while they wave to your free-range pig? Then step in to Wildhaven Ranch run by Karen Biddlecom and her husband.
Nice, open, and generous people. I knew I liked Karen when she busted out my same sunscreen in pale-girl 110SPF and doused it on my shoulders (I had forgotten mine.). And I knew we were going to be friends when she started talking about what I’m most passionate about in the world, The Real Housewives. Call me crazy, but St. Teresa Guidice and His Holiness, Andy Cohen, had to have brought us together for a reason. And I’m pretty sure that reason was goats.
There were so. many. goats. Karen raises ’em up and she sent Alfonso and I home with the right stuff to cook ’em. Like I said about the chicklets, just don’t think about it too hard. We’ll get to the recipes later, but for now you have to check out the Biddlecoms’ bucolic farm.
Ok. Just one more goat.
Mixed in with the goats were chickens, a turkey, and a couple of roosters with a masculinity complex, causing them to constantly be separated by a chained gate. This one is the most handsome, or so he feels.
Running around alongside Mr. Beautiful is a turkey.
The goats eventually are sent to a processor (Which hopefully we will get to go back and see one day.) and then sold as sausages, cuts of meat to be grilled, organ meat for pâtés etc., and skin for chicharrones. Karen so graciously gave us lots of variety from their goat, lamb (kept at another farm), cow, and chicken stock- eggs and honey included! We even got a little surprise that neither Alfonso nor I had ever tried before. Just wait for the recipe, you’re going to die.
After we hung out with the little goaties and their friends, we headed to see the ponies and horses. First stop, Rick Flair’s house.
It’s true, the Nature Boy took his titles and retirement and moved to Wildhaven Ranch. Rick, like many of the Ranch’s animals are rescues. Karen has a huge heart for animals and works every day to make their lives pleasant there on the ranch with her. Rick hangs out next door to the guard llama.
Side note: Notice how I have literally not used an animal’s name once? The sheer volume of animals and unique names, I believe, cancelled out my ability to remember even one! Karen, on the other names animals and their back stories like I can still recall the juicy middle school gossip of yesteryear AND who really stole whose best friend.
Back to Rick’s guard llama.
This lady is around 14 years old. She hangs out with the goats all day and has a front row seat to the long dirt driveway, so she can inspect those who come in. Watch out! Because she will literally do nothing to you. Watching her walk around in the middle of all the goats is hysterical though.
Among the other animals live several horses. They are all rescue, I believe, and they are now living out their days hanging out with Karen and her family. From what I understand some of the horses were up for kill auction and some were leftover show horses, or both. They all now lounge and munch hay on the spacious ranch.
Before we took a spin in the golf cart to see some of the areas where the Biddlecoms plan on expanding their ranch- more space, more goats- Karen popped in her on ranch home to scrounge us up a snack and some farm goodies. Alfonso took the opportunity to get his “farm portrait” made for Wildhaven.
We talk a lot about the fun and adventurous side of the food and beverage industry, but what gets glossed over sometimes is the shear exhaustion that comes with it and the stress that it causes on one’s life. Being trapped between four walls in the back of some tiny kitchen 12 hours a day will get to anyone, even if you are pursuing a dream. For this reason I am grateful to Wildhaven Ranch (and the other farms we’ve visited so far) for giving me the opportunity to capture these moments when Chef Fonz feels most himself and stress-free.
And out comes Karen with some Krispy Kreme!
We indulged on some free-range (just kidding) doughnuts while we talked Bravo TV, then we hopped on the golf cart and saw the rest of the ranch.
Karen showed us a run down shack that was part of the farm when they bought it and told me of her plans to paint the door “Episcopalian blue.” I think it’s a fine idea. Behind the chapel is a small pond that will eventually be part of a larger pond and hopefully provide a water source for the farm. For now, it is The Ranch Dog Swim Club. Beside the pond is the best representation of the Wildhaven Ranch philosophy.
Karen loves her husband, loves her animals, and they love her too. The animals live out their lives running, trotting, galloping, sloughing, and grazing around the farm and there is not an aggressive one in sight. We should raise children like Karen raises her animals. Just kidding. Maybe.
At the tail end of our golf cart ride, we met the peacocks. They lay eggs and give off feathers. The males can’t be let out because they have commitment issues and will run off looking for neighbor ladies, but we got to catch one female spreading her wings.
We left Wildhaven Ranch with an invitation to come back and have some cocktails, a plan for a future visit to their other farm and processing spot, and a sack full of goat, lamb, chicken, bee, and cow products. What a morning!
We whipped up a couple of recipes the day we got home and I’ve been braising lamb rib chops all day today, so stay tuned for our next blog post to see all we’ve made so far with our goodies from Wildhaven Ranch! Biddlecoms- we love you and we love your ranch, and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve been cooking. Check out their facebook page to see where you can get some top shelf free-range meats in the Charleston area.