Story and photos by Heather Hawkins
Our names are Jonathan and Heather Hawkins, and, along with our six children: Jason (15), Tyler (14), Micah (12), Emilie (10), Olivia (8), and Benjamin (3), we own and run Hawkfield Manor on our cousin’s farm in rural Person County. Our cousins have supported us in our livestock endeavors and have opened one of their buildings and helped transform it to become the Hawkfield Manor Farm Store. When you come to shop or tour the farm, you will enjoy their lovely farmstead and pond views.
We began this journey 11 years ago with a move to an Amish farm, taking over their markets for beef, goat milk, eggs, and produce. We soon met Jon’s cousins at a family reunion. We were instantly smitten with their lovely farm in Person County and agreed to move our growing flocks, herds, and family to their land. Jon worked part time at their farm, and we moved into a rental home recently vacated on their property.
Before long, we made the decision to become full-time ranchers/farmers. We wanted to pursue mob grazing for our grass-fed beef, which has had amazing results worldwide. Mob grazing involves the daily moving of herds with temporary fencing, running pipelines for water troughs, and thinning brush for more pasture.
As our family grew, we continued to raise, process, and sell mob-grazed, grass-finished beef. Jon sold his milk goats, all our milking equipment, our Boer goat herd, and our chickens. We chose to focus on regenerative cattle ranching and beef. There simply wasn’t time to be at markets and order pickup/drop-off events with all the improvements to the farm, mob grazing, and two hay seasons. In 2016, Jonathan became increasingly ill, and was eventually diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. Much of our life on the farm was put on hold as he healed, including the grazing operation. Amazingly, we continued to see the benefits of the mob-grazed land with its restored native grasses and lush pastures. Our herds were healthier, and calves were born stronger. What an encouragement this was! In 2017, on the last visit to the Georgia clinic where Jon was being treated, we announced to our five children that we were expecting a rainbow baby – our miracle and promise after a season of storms that included the loss of our sixth pregnancy and Jonathan’s illness.
We spent the next three years getting back to normal on the farm. We continued homeschooling while I also worked seasonally as a CPA’s assistant. Jon continued his role as a property manager of his cousin’s farm. Our three oldest boys gained experience working alongside their dad as they learned how to respectfully and humanely raise livestock. They had learned at very young ages how to work the cows, call them, and to this day are our junior "Cow Whisperers," as I like to call them.
Then came 2020, a global pandemic, and grocery store shortages. Six families requested half and/or whole cows, and many of our family and friends needed bulk beef that would fit in their small freezers as there was a national freezer shortage. We scheduled as many appointments with our processors as we could. To offer more options beyond beef, we purchased 350 meat chicks. We purchased 100 laying hens and 100 pullets to produce eggs. In the late summer/ fall of 2020, we processed our broiler chickens, began selling our products at the Greensboro Corner Market, and started regular Cary order pickup/drop-off events.
As 2021 approached, we reassessed our goals as a farm, and replacing our dairy cow was top of the list. As we researched dairy cows, we fell in love with the Normande breed. We decided to pursue a healthy breeding program of Normandes here in North Carolina. We found a bred mother/daughter pair and a lovely, registered bull. Next year we expect to welcome our first generation of Normande calves. Our oldest son decided to invest in a little goat herd of Oberhasli and Alpine goats. We are thrilled about his passion with this new endeavor, from milking and goat care to bottle-feeding babies, he is doing an excellent job. Another goal for Hawkfield Manor in 2021 was raising sheep. This fall we finally realized that goal, as we had lamb processed for the first time.
Our children have been along for the ride, processing chickens, loading up calves to sell at auction, clearing fence lines, moving the different herds, milking, and keeping us company at markets and farm drops. Sometimes we all go out onto the farm to tackle a bigger project and call them "Family Farm Days," which are a huge hit with the younger children, who love helping, but sometimes get under foot with daily chores. We are continuously impressed with all of our children’s hard work and love for farm life, and proud as we hear them talk about their future plans on the farm. Hawkfield Manor is only here because of them.
We are thankful for the past 18 months as it pushed us to pursue farming endeavors we had shelved for years. Grass-fed, grass-finished beef and lamb are our passions for sure. But we are enjoying our dairy livestock as well. We look forward to our farm becoming a household name in Person County and surrounding areas, providing families with healthy and wholesome food.
149 Victor Chandler Rd.
Timberlake, NC 27583