BLACKVILLE, S.C. - At daybreak Friday, part of rural Barnwell County had taken a large step back into the first half of the 20th century.
Near Blackville, a small boy grasped the handles of a horse-drawn plowshare, trying to remain on his feet as he walked beside deep furrows of dry, sandy soil.
Inside an old four-room farmhouse, a young woman fried eggs and sausage in a cast-iron skillet atop a wood-burning stove while a young girl churned butter.
Outside, a blacksmith pounded red-hot iron pieces over an anvil to make a tethering ring.
For the sixth year in a row, Cindy and Tommy Flowers pulled their 50-acre farm back in time for a two-day Old Time Horse Farmers Gathering, aimed at schoolchildren and open to the public.
Started elsewhere 10 years ago, the Flowerses moved the event to their own land, part of a larger family farm bought in about 1940 by Mrs. Flowers' great-grandparents, Lizzie and Bub Still. The Stills finished raising five of their nine children in the small farmhouse, which had no indoor bathroom until the mid-1960s.
When the house was vacated, Mrs. Flowers "pretty much ripped all the modernization out of it," seeking to restore the home to an earlier time in harmony with the farming techniques she and her husband use.
They grow an assortment of crops - oats, peas, corn, sugarcane, hay, peanuts - for their own use and to maintain their livestock, including the workhorses that pull the antique farm machinery.
"It's slower and you can't do much (compared to modern methods and equipment). Enjoying it is the main thing. Nobody ever went out in the morning to find a baby tractor," Mr. Flowers said.
As a teacher, Mrs. Flowers wanted to gear the event towards educating children about the old days, and each year more than 1,000 elementary school pupils typically take a field trip to the event.
Angelica Iglesias, 8, a third-grader from Orangeburg Preparatory School, was on such a trip Friday.
She raved about the experience while enjoying a cup of homemade ice cream, which she pronounced better than store-bought. Earlier, she sampled some homemade sausage.
"Oh, that was awesome," she said with widened eyes, and then endorsed the field trip idea.
"I would like to have a field trip every single day, 'cause you're still learning stuff and it's still fun," she said.
Reach J.C. Lexow at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106, or firstname.lastname@example.org
IF YOU GO
What: 10th Annual Old Time Horse Farmers Gathering
Where: Ashleigh Heritage Farm, 2525 Ashleigh Road, Blackville
When: From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today
Admission: Adults, $4; students, $2; children younger than 3, free.
Call: Cindy Flowers, (803) 259-3350
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