Farming has 2 places in her heart

The Baltimore Sun

Carol Hackney, a land preservation activist, has lived on two farms named Cold Saturday Farm in Carroll County -- one is her home on Oakland Road in Eldersburg, and the original was her childhood home a few miles away in Finksburg.

Hackney's parents had bought the first Cold Saturday Farm at auction. Her father, H. Hamilton Hackney, was a judge in Baltimore's juvenile court who retired in 1943. He was from Pittsburgh, and her mother, Alice, was from New York City, but they met in Wyoming. Both loved animals and her mother started an Angus herd in 1934. She also was a husbandry judge on the breed.

Carol Hackney spoke about Finksburg's Cold Saturday Farm last month at the American Legion post in Westminster. The original Cold Saturday Farm was built in 1765 and is being considered for the National Register of Historic Places.

Sitting in the living room of today's Cold Saturday Farm, just eight miles from the original Cold Saturday Farm, Hackney said that King George III of England "had spread out lords and nobles, all up and down the eastern seaboard, from New England all the way down to Florida to lay out plantations, to have holdings in this country. ... He sent the surveyors out, and they wrote back and said it was the 12th of January in 1765, and they were going back to Baltimore until the weather broke. It was snowing. It was a very cold Saturday. And [the king] wrote back and said, 'Name this place Cold Saturday.'" That property, with a grand mansion and hundreds of acres, instilled in Hackney a love and knowledge of farming that became a life's work in Angus cattle and land preservation. Her knowledge of Angus herd management was called upon after her father's death in 1961, when she managed the family herd at the original Cold Saturday Farm until her mother died in 1974.

They couldn't keep the first Cold Saturday Farm, she said. The taxes were too high. "We had awfully good lawyers, and they advised us we could sell it, as it was too expensive to keep it up," she said.

When she inherited the farm, Hackney was left with the task of selling off the Angus herd. She and her brothers decided to sell to eldest sister Alice their 25-acre inheritances. Brothers Jerry and Hiram Hamilton Jr. had other homes.

Since then, there have been just two owners, one for 10 years and the current owners, Garnet and Scarlet Bean, who maintain their private residence there.

Hackney gave the documents written by King George III naming the original Cold Saturday Farm to the Beans. "They should have it, and so I gave it to them."

Hackney's background in animal husbandry and love of horses led her to want to live on a farm similar to her childhood farm. When she found her place in Eldersburg, she named it for her childhood home. She has some farm management helpers, but still takes pride in the day-to-day feeding and running of the farm operation on her 10 acres.

Hackney bought the second Cold Saturday Farm, also known as the Bennett-Kelly Farm, in 1976, she said. It is home as well for her four New England-bred Morgan horses, including Bambury-Cross, the 1989 World Champion English Pleasure Horse.

Named for song

Morgan horses, pugs and historic land and buildings are her first loves. She has never forgotten the moment her name was called at the Grand National Morgan Horse Show in Oklahoma City, Okla.: "Carol Hackney, come on down."

She had felt that Bambury-Cross was specially marked when she saw the white rings around the foal's legs. Reminiscent of the nursery rhyme Bambury-Cross, "She had 'rings on her fingers, and bells on her toes, and she shall have music wherever she goes.'" It was a song her father had sung to her, and Hackney named the horse after it.

Her four resident horses are gelding C.S. Designer Genes, and C.S. Bali-Ha'i, the get of Bambury-Cross, and one she bought from the former DuPont farm, Nemours Coco Chanel. "They each get an apple and a mint after dinner," Hackney said.

"I want to share this place," she said, adding that visitors were welcome to call to arrange tours.

Hackney also works for the rescue of pugs.

"We always had dogs and cats and horses and ponies," while growing up on the farm, she said.

A love of horses led her to join several clubs, including the Mid-Atlantic Morgan Horse Club, Maryland Horse Club, Delaware Valley Morgan Horse Club, the Carroll County Farm Museum and the Humane Society. She also is on the Carroll County Land Trust Board.

Hackney believes strongly in preservation of the county's old houses and lands, in particular both Cold Saturday farms. At her residence in Eldersburg, she is adding a first-floor bathroom and wants people to know that listing in the historic register does not prevent such renovation. But she will preserve the tone of the house, she added.

Having the listing is important to her, a notion she was inspired by when she first saw the property with its 1780 house. When she bought the house, she had remodeling to do to restore the look of the fieldstone and stucco house.

"Nobody ever tried, but I thought this house was much too historic and much too beautiful not to try," she said. So with the help of architectural historian Ken Short, she got it placed in the National Register of Historic Places.

4-H activities

The historic property reflects her concern with preservation. The hills and three ponds are a green setting for nature's sounds in spring -- frogs peeping and birds warbling -- and during the summer 4-H activities are held there.

Inside, there is a restored carousel horse in the dining room. Pictures from all four siblings of their ancestors, now in Hackney's keeping, are displayed on the dining room walls.

The property also known as the Bennett-Kelly Farm was named for the last two owners. Hackney found the property in 1976 and bought it, partly to have a place that reminded her of her childhood home.

Taking on the restoration was challenging. Extensive drapery was removed to show off the living room's elegant woodwork. The outbuildings include a restored red barn, milk house, smokehouse and chicken house. The smokehouse has the original iron bar from the 18th century to keep others from stealing meat while the family attended church on Sundays, and the chicken house is well-built, too.

Hackney uncovered a mounting block out front, hidden by brush and shrub, that is a reminder of the horse and carriage. "The ladies would get up to get in the stagecoach from there," she said. The dark brown fencing is neatly maintained.

Short, the architectural historian, said the house is more elegant than most people would expect in an early American farmhouse.

"Overall this house is smaller, not as grand as [the original] Cold Saturday. Though not as grand or refined, Miss Hackney's house is not without its own refinements," he said.

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