A day at the farm...
About halfway up the steep, serpentine road leading to Apple Hill Farm, the old Beatles hit “The Long and Winding Road” embedded itself in my head and refused to leave.
And then, when a chorus of whiny “Are we there yet?” refrains echoed from the teen and preteen in the back seat, I quietly began to wonder if this mountaintop farm was going to be worth it.
Oh sure, there would be alpacas — and if the sweet, cherubic face of an alpaca doesn’t make you smile, there may be some sort of physiological disconnect between your peepers and your smiler.
But would alpacas be enough? What if they weren’t people-friendly? What if they weren’t child-friendly? What if, in a fiery fit of alpaca rage, one of them spit at us, as alpacas will sometimes do? Would the proprietors try to sell me a T-shirt with a picture of a spitting alpaca and the phrase “Spit happens!” on it?
Well, here’s what I discovered at the top of the mountain: Alpacas are always worth it, and the nearly two dozen alpacas at Apple Hill Farm did not disappoint.
Nor did they spit.
They simply smiled, and the more social among them ambled over to the fence where we were standing and allowed us to feed them grass and, in some cases, even pet them. Those were the males.
The females, who awaited us in a barn during a tour of the farm, stood in a large pack, not unlike a herd of women waiting to get into the bathroom at a restaurant. Many of them chewed grass — or something — but whatever it was, I couldn’t help but notice how much they resembled a Southern waitress chewing her gum. Think Flo on the old “Alice” sitcom.
For about 90 minutes, we walked around observing the animals at this quaint mountaintop farm — not just alpacas, but also llamas and horses and donkeys. Chickens and roosters. Dogs and a cat. Sheep and goats, and a comical pig named Mr. Pickles.
We had gone to the mountains for a weekend of relaxation — to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, not to mention the quickly rising summer temperatures of the Triad.
The farm was entertaining. We laughed at the rooster that crowed approximately 226 times during our visit, because we were told he was boasting of his many female conquests.
Never mind that he was the only rooster in his coop. That’s a guy for you.
And we enjoyed the antics of the pig, Mr. Pickles, who was — if you’ll pardon the pun — a bit of a ham.
But the farm was also a nice reminder that not all entertainment comes in the form of video games and televisions and movies and all the other high-tech gadgets that clamor for our attention these days. Sometimes, the simple, quirky behavior of an alpaca can be just as rewarding.
For more information about taking a tour of Apple Hill Farm in Banner Elk, visit the farm’s website at http://applehillfarmnc.com.