Sunday, May 9, 2004 4:00 AM EDT
By Erin Semple
Cherokee Tribune Staff Writer

A farm of miniature animals in the heart of Macedonia soon will be exposed to a big audience.

Michelle Bolt opened Tanglewood Farm in east Cherokee County 10 years ago to provide children a place to interact with animals. Next weekend, the Turner South cable TV channel will be filming at the farm.

John Parry, vice president of original programming for the channel, recognized the farm’s charm and decided to feature it as part of the “Blue Ribbon” series. He said the series is crafted to show the best of the South. “We try to chose local establishments where people do their best at what they do,” he said. “It’s a small but known place, and people consider it the best at what it is. It is a mom-and-pop zoo. This is a true zoo, where one can touch all of the animals.”

The segment, to be taped at Tanglewood Farm on May 16, will be part of the program featuring the South’s best zoos. Three other zoos will be featured: Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville, N.C.; Kangaroo Conservation in Dawsonville and Holliwild in Inman, S.C.

Turner South Senior Publicist Susan Ievoli said Tanglewood Farm was chosen because of its unique miniature animals and horse riding programs for children.

“We like to pick interesting stories, and Tanglewood Farm exemplifies all of that,” she said.

The taping at Tanglewood is scheduled to air in late summer or early fall. “Blue Ribbon” airs at 8:30 p.m. Fridays, and the channel reaches 6.6 million household viewers.

Ms. Bolt said she is excited about the filming, part of which will be during regular hours of operation, and the possibility of introducing more families to the farm. “There are few places where you can find a wonderful environment for children and animals to interact,” Ms. Bolt said. “It’s precious. I’m proud to know that we have touched many children’s lives.”

Ms. Bolt moved to Macedonia 11 years ago and began working as a county school bus driver. She eventually began breeding miniatures, and her business is now international.

“I have always wanted to work with children and animals,” she said. “I grew up in Nebraska City, Neb., and I missed home, so I wanted to continue my childhood and the type of life I was used to.”

She also brings the flavor of the Midwest to families and school field trip groups five days a week. The farm is open from 10 a .m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. Admission is $8 and free for children 1 and younger. Tour themes change every month.

“I think the fondest part of this place is the legacy of innocence and wholesome interaction of children and animals,” Ms. Bolt said. “Some grandparents grew up on farms, and this allows them to communicate and share their memories with their grandchildren.”

The breeding business has grown because “minis are easier to maintain than larger animals,” she said. “Customers like the idea of having something kid-friendly, so minis are the first choice,” she said. “My customers have farms, want house pets or are looking unique and rarity of animals. They are also for investment and show.”

The farm breeds more than 100 miniature farm animals, including horses, donkeys, jersey cows, sheep, goats, pot-bellied pigs, Jack Russell terriers, Manx bobtailed cats, bunnies, turkeys, chickens and quail.

Ms. Bolt breeds animals for tiny size and unusual qualities. Her largest minis are 27 inches tall, which is less than the industry’s minimum requirement of 38 inches for miniatures. Her farm oversees each animal’s breeding from birth so it will be friendlier. According to Ms. Bolt, her
farm is the only breeder in Georgia with a large amount of minis. She said mini breeds have developed in isolated places with little food. If they breed, minis only produce minis.

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