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Apple Hill Farm | NC Weekend | UNC-TV

January 4, 2020

– Hi everyone. Welcome to North
Carolina Weekend, I’m Deborah Holt Noel. High atop a peaceful
mountain in Avery County is a 10-acre farm that’s
fast becoming a refuge, not only for the
animals that live there but for the humans
who visit, as well. Let’s take a visit
to Apple Hill Farm. [mellow guitar] – It’s like a fantasy or
a fairytale or something. I mean, it looks like
something that you open up, “Once upon a time, there
was–” and there’s this farm. [rooster crowing] – [Deborah Voiceover] It’s
called Apple Hill Farm, a 10-acre mountaintop
property open to the public by its owner, Lee Rankin. When Lee and her son William
purchased the property in 2001, they knew immediately what
they wanted to raise, alpacas. – I think it’s their eyes. Their eyes are really, really
big and deep and they just– you feel like you could
stare into them for hours. – [Deborah Voiceover]
As fate would have it, their inventory was
soon forced to expand. – We had a actual mountain
lion attack in 2003, so we lost all alpacas
except for one. We started all over
again with more alpacas, and we added llamas
to protect them from the inside of the field, donkeys to protect them on
the outside of the field, and goats as our
sacrificial animal, so that if mountain lions
came back and needed food, we had something
for them to eat. And by the end of that year, we had taken on a
horse, pregnant horse. So we had horses, alpacas,
llamas, donkeys, goats, and the chickens. [pig snorting] – [Deborah Voiceover] There’s
also a pig called Mr. Pickles. – He’s a rescue, also. He was at a breeding facility, but something happened
and his legs got crossed, so they threw him out
with a bunch of other pigs who picked on him. – [Deborah Voiceover] He’s in
good care at Apple Hill Farm, so are the guests
who have discovered this mountaintop sanctuary. – [Staff Member] We’ve
got a yarn store, where we have lots of knitters
and crocheters come and shop, but we’ve also got the farm, where we’re out working
with the animals and taking care of them. And then we bring
it all together by giving guided walking
tours of our farm. – [Tour Guide] These guys help
protect all of our alpacas. – [William] And you go around
and you meet the alpacas, the llamas, the
donkeys, the horses, the chickens, the goats. – Always kind of fun
with a five-year-old, a two-year-old, and
seven-month-old. – I really think so. I had a great time
and I’m an adult. So I think it’s awesome
for kids, as well. – [Deborah Voiceover]
Entertainment isn’t
the only purpose of the animals. Some provide fleece that
can be used for clothing, like the goats. – [Staff Member] We have
nine Angora goat babies. They are just about
two-months-old now. These guys are fiber animals and we do shear
them twice a year ’cause they grow an
inch of hair a month. – [Deborah Voiceover]
And the alpacas. – We have 21 alpacas total. We raise them for their fiber. They’re shorn once a year
and we take all that fiber and we either have
it spun into yarn or we take it to a co-op
that makes them into socks, dryer balls, and all
kinds of great products. – And when we send that off, we have it spun into
yarn, we do it by animal. So when you’re out on the
tour, you can see Billy and then you can
see Billy’s fiber in the store in yarn-form. We can wind this for you. – You can do that here? – We can, absolutely. – [Customer] Look at that. – [Deborah Voiceover]
Knitters and crocheters come from far and wide to purchase
their specialty yarns, but that’s only the beginning of the treasures
you’ll find there. – We not only have our
locally raised eggs, we usually have
honey from our bees and some other products
selected from the area. And then our big
seller is socks. We have hiking socks,
we have yoga socks, we’ve got sports socks, all kinds of things
made from alpaca fiber. It’s got a hollow
core, so it insulates without trapping heat,
so you don’t get too hot in the summertime. It also wicks away moisture, so they’ll keep you nice
and dry when you’re out in the hot summer sun. – [Deborah Voiceover] The
best takeaway, though, has nothing to do
with merchandise, and everything to do
with some of life’s most simple pleasures. – Well, I think in our society, when it’s so heavily
technological, that kids, I think, are
missing that hands-on experience of learning. – To show my children
where eggs come from, where yarn comes from,
how the world works. – And the way that
our ancestors grew up and knowing how to
prepare their food and how to just take
care of themselves and be self-sustainable. – So Apple Hill Farm is a
place where people can come and get back in touch with that and have an experience of
the mountains, of the air, of the land, of the plants,
or an Angora goat, an alpaca, a pig that makes them laugh. It’s just a chance
to get back in touch and that is a huge gift to be
able to give that to people. – [Deborah Voiceover]
Apple Hill Farm is at 400 Apple Hill
Road in Banner Elk. Tours start at two
p.m. seven days a week and the store is open
Monday through Saturday from 10 to four and on
Sunday from 12 to four. For more information, give
them a call at 828-963-1662 or go online to

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