Farm & Family
Four generations later, Pop's Old Place offers quality products with personal intentions
By Manning Lee
Photos by Maire McArdle and Stephen Walker
Above: A special family moment includes Betty, the giant Schnauzer; Jack the lamb; and Hazel, the Australian shepherd; along with granddaughters Caroline and Willow Hubbard. Below: Darlene and Arthur display their affection for two animals they are keeping as pets: Elsa, the calf, who nearly died of hypothermia, and Jack, the lamb, whose mother died after giving birth.
Darlene Goehringer and her husband Arthur Wilson of Pop’s Old Place, a farm that sells grass-fed and finished meats in Hurlock, are among the most generous farmers around. They raise and sell meat for consumption from heritage breeds of cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, and chickens. Through careful forethought and research, they chose the particular breeds of animals they use based on the quality, texture, and taste of the meat they produce.
For her cattle, Goehringer began her herd with a nearly extinct heritage breed called Randall Lineback. She has around 25 heads of cattle. “I enjoy looking at them. and they are gentle animals. So far, the meat has been fabulous. They are 100% grass-fed and finished. Their beef is very dark red, less marbling than what people are used to eating,” explained Goehringer. The pigs are also a heritage breed called a “Mule Foot.” They got the name because of the shape of their feet. She exclaimed, “It’s the best pork I’ve ever eaten!”
Goehringer’s great grandparents settled on their farm in 1909. She grew up down the road. She and her siblings often helped out the family on the farm. She and Arthur moved there in 1998 with two horses, two goats, and dogs. They mapped out how their dream farm would look. “Somewhere along the line, I bought my first sheepdog. If we had a sheepdog, then we must have needed sheep,” Goehringer laughed.
As a fair disclaimer, I am a customer of Pop’s Old Place. I began shopping for my meats with Goehringer in 2016. On any given shopping day, I drove up to her farm. Goehringer would be elbow-deep in canning her tomatoes or barefooted walking around the farm or feeding her pigs. She would stop whatever she was doing and open up her shop to me. Inevitably, we would end up just shooting-the-breeze and walking around the farm talking about her animals or the food she grows in her garden. Eventually, I would get into the car with a handful of her extra tomatoes or extra cuts of meat she had given me. I can tell she loves sharing what she has with curious people like me who show interest. It was just her heart. She loves people as much as the farm and her animals.
Sometimes I would talk to her for no other reason than to pick her brain. I am curious, but Goehringer is wise and generous. She took her time and shared what she knew with me without any hesitation. What I sensed then and now from her is that she breathes in and exhales her passion for her work. She is not just a farmer, but she is an ambassador from humankind to the land and animals. She knows each of her animals by name and their personalities. They know her too and follow her voice.
The last time I visited Goehringer, we took a walk down the driveway to see her Randall Lineback ladies. She wanted to introduce me to Elsa, who was a calf that Goehringer saved months earlier from hypothermia. Now, Elsa is no longer just a part of her herd. She is a large, and still growing, beloved pet. The young cow will live a long, happy life and spend the balance of her days running the pastures.
The other girls were all grazing on the far side of the pasture when Goehringer banged on something and gave the signal to get their attention. They sauntered curiously across the field to the edge of the pasture that lined the driveway. She introduced me to Elsa. Elsa was a big baby. She played with me by running back and forth along the fence line. She was just like one big puppy. In that moment, I witnessed the connection that Goehringer had with her herd. She made the connection to the cows with her simple presence there with them.
Even though Goehringer possesses what many of us ‘wanna be farmers’ would consider esoteric knowledge that is virtually unobtainable these days, she is unbelievably humble. I asked her what she had planned in the coming seasons.
She explained, “My next plan when COVID allows is to do some small group teaching. I want to teach people how to make yeast rolls, pie crusts, and pasta. I want to encourage them that making these things is just taking flour, eggs, and salt. With a little know-how, you have something wonderful. I want to teach them that doing these things is not necessarily difficult. You have to try. A lot of people are frustrated with trying to learn how to do certain things on their own. With a little guidance, I could teach them things like canning and preserving,” she described. She had no concrete plans, but if what I know about her rings true, then with a little encouragement from her customers and friends, we will all be in classes down in Hurlock come the fall.
Each week driving away from the Pop’s Old Place, I would return to my real life in Easton with my little treasures of bacon, ground beef, minute steaks, and gluten-free sausages. I was proud to have found and purchased the best quality meat available to me. As I placed each frozen cut into my freezer, I knew later that week I could be happy with the dinners I would make.
Pop’s Old Place
A Century Family Farm
4657 Skinners Run
Hurlock, Md. 21643
Hours: Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Wednesday Evenings, 4:00-6:00 p.m. First Sundays, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.