When we pulled into Split Creek Farm
in Anderson County
, our first greeting wasn't from the goats at the Grade A Dairy.
Instead, it was the magnificent Great Pyrenees dogs who patrol the herds, keeping the goats safe and in line, who barked hello. And it was one particular dog -- Sophie -- who wandered up to our car, ready to have her ears scratched and her belly petted.
It was a wonderful welcome to a working farm.
Split Creek Farm, in the Blue Ridge foothills
not far from Anderson, is home to a herd of more than 350 dairy goats, mostly Nubian. It features milking and cheese operations, a kid nursery, a retail gift shop featuring folk art
and a store selling goat milk products. Our kids loved the peanut butter goat milk fudge
, while the marinated feta with sun-dried tomatoes
was my favorite. We brought home some of each, along with a few other types of goat cheeses.
And while the dogs might catch your attention first, the friendly, sociable goats steal the show -- especially in the next few weeks, when the first babies will be born.
"Children love to see the babies. They'll just stand there and look and look at them," said Vivian Gaulden, who was working at the farm the day we visited, and introduced us to the goats, pigs, rabbits, chickens and dogs.
The farm has been operating on this land for more than 30 years by co-owners Evin Evans and Patricia Bell, who have turned it into a must-visit and must-taste spot in the Upstate.
About half of the herd is milked twice a day, with all of the milk used for cheeses and fudge, which are made by hand.
The shops are open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sundays from 2-5 p.m. Visitors are always welcome at the shops, but if you want to have a full look at how the farm operates, consider scheduling a tour
, where you will learn about the breeds of dairy goats and the farm's management. You'll also get to see how the farm's guardian dogs and herding dogs work, and tour the milking parlor. Tours are $5 per person and last 1-2 hours. A minimum of 10 people are required to schedule a tour, but if you don't have that many the farm will try to combine you with another tour.
The farm is at 3806 Centerville Road in Anderson, not far from Interstate 85. Click here for directions