Jane Lee Rankin is single, 37 and a recent breast cancer survivor when she finds out she is pregnant.

With bravery, grit and determination she sets out on a journey of the heart to raise her son and follow a dream of raising alpacas. Through many unforeseen challenges, she trades not knowing for knowledge and creates a new kind of family, a farm family.

Author's Personal Thoughts

As soon as I learned to read, I discovered a voice in my head that spoke the words. It was the same voice that became my inner storyteller, day processor, and observer of the world around me. Ask me a question, and I instantly heard an answer. A journal became my first place to record my unfiltered thoughts. School work and assignments challenged me to hone and focus the words I heard inside. I spent hours creating make believe worlds in the woods, in silent inner conversations with real or imagined characters and eventually trying to capture my thought stream onto paper.

While I was still in elementary school, a new neighbor and best friend, Susie, introduced me the world of books like The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I was instantly hooked and became an avid reader slipping into the pages of a book for hours. As a high school student, I came to life as I studied creative writing under Charlie Fothergill and my secret desire to be a writer was born.

My path has twisted and turned since then through business, non-profit, culinary, real estate and farming worlds. A steady companion has been reading and journaling. Reading gives me perspective and putting my words on paper lets me know what I am thinking. I cherish the moments words flow onto the page unfiltered.

The writing of Cookin Up a Storm in the late 90’s came with some urgency as I wanted the story told, recipes written and book published, while Annie Johnson was still alive. The first seed of the story was planted during a meditation when I realized the powerful impact Annie was in my growing up and I was filled with gratitude. An emotion and a story combined forces and grew quickly into the idea of a readable cookbook.

The idea for Farm Family started as a non-fiction book to tell the story of what, how and why Apple Hill Farm came to be. It morphed into a memoir early on during a workshop with Jeffrey Davis as he highlighted a difference in memoir as having an antagonist and protagonist. I innocently stood up and asked “What if your antagonist is reluctant?” From that moment the book became a memoir with my father cast as the ‘reluctant antagonist’.

The journey of writing this memoir has been the cathartic healing as I processed through stories of Will growing up, animals as they were born and died and as I discovered old emotions tucked away inside. The surprise for me is forgiveness: for myself, family and many traumatic experiences. I am left with a sense of peace and contentment.

Morning is my writing time, as the night turns gives way to sunlight. I spend my days devoted to mountain top farm full of fuzzy animals, the business of running a farm and the people who come to visit. I look forward to meeting you on the page and in person.

Jane Lee Rankin is a farmer and founder of Apple Hill Farm, an award-winning first-generation farm in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina.

Praise for Farm Family

“Lee Rankin is a word smith of the heart. She takes us on a journey to vividly illustrate through farm life how a heart can mend through death and despair to hope and renewal. You will beg her to write the next book, so you can follow her footsteps of bravery and endurance. Her life story is captivating and engaging on all levels.”