For Debbi Stanfield, experience, knowledge and curiosity combined after she and her husband Craig retired to the country after busy careers in Florida. A spinning class at John C. Campbell Folk School, volunteer work with goats at the Carl Sandburg Home in Flat Rock and a chance encounter with a fellow fiber enthusiast at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair in Fletcher led the couple to establish Cherry Mountain Farm and General Store, in Rutherfordton. Debbi was having trouble adjusting to retirement, she says, when the woman she met at the Fiber Fair wanted to sell seven Angora goats. “I read everything I could about this breed—that is not common in our area—and fell in love with their sweet personalities and beautiful mohair,” says Debbi.
“Friends would bring their kids by and I would take them into the barn and introduce them to the goats, and then I thought that offering tours would be fun.” She attended a conference of the North Carolina Agritourism Networking Association, received a grant from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and was on her way.
Today, her seven goats have become a herd of 19 that produces enough mohair that she is able to send the fiber to Hickory to be manufactured into socks that are then sold at the farm’s store. Craig, who works creatively with metal and wood, came up with the idea of having a store. It is now a leading distributor in WNC for Case® knives and also sells local pottery and totes, aprons and dish towels, handmade jewelry and old-fashioned candy and soda.
“I love doing farm tours for small groups, typically two to 10 people,” Debbi says. “It will just be your group so I can focus on particular interests and ages of the kids. Besides the 19 Angora goats, we have two very sweet kunekune pigs, two horses, two very friendly livestock guardian dogs and a barn cat that will follow you around for head scratches.” Tours last 45 minutes to an hour and participants feed treats to the animals and learn about caring for them.
Cherry Mountain Farm and General Store is located at 3946 US 64 Highway in Rutherfordton. Hours beginning Sunday, May 8, are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 12–4 p.m. To learn more, visit TheGeneralStoreatCherryMountainFarm.com or find the farm on Facebook and Instagram @cherrymtfarmandgeneralstore. To schedule a tour, call or text 954.410.2892 or visit the website. The farm also offers a residential timber-frame house available for dog-friendly vacation rentals.