In the coming days, we will share short Q&A's with our artisans, those people who’ve played key roles in the development and story of Barkley’s Mill. From their inspiration as farmers and artisans to their family, their beliefs and their tireless love the land.
Charles who has served on Southern Cross Farm nearly 21 years is uniquely qualified by upbringing and life experience to perform his many roles and duties. Born in Asheville in the war year of 1942, he moved to the Barnardsville valley with his family of 10 siblings in 1947. Their new home on Milford Mountain was a small humble dirt floored farming homestead. His dad soon acquired nearby acreage and a single room log house with a cook stove which was expanded by 3 rooms to hold the family of eight boys and 3 girls. All learned early the many duties and growing responsibilities of rural farm family life without electricity, running water or indoor facilities.
Charles, as a teen, loved baseball and was an accomplished pitcher and shortstop with recognized potential. Upon completing eighth grade at 17, he married and began his family which grew to 3 boys and 3 girls. While living in various valley locations, farming full or part time, he acquired 30 years work experience as a sawmill hand, heavy construction worker, tree trimmer and, with his brother, landscape/lawn service provision. These life lessons combined to make him an invaluable member of Southern Cross Farm in his many roles of general land care, cattle and goat tending, vegetable and flower growing and all around "Man of the Land".
In my mind, being a blacksmith is one thing; being a great blacksmith is something altogether different. I, myself, am a 7th generation blacksmith but that isn’t what makes me a master blacksmith. While I grew up in a family that knows blacksmithing inside and out, my personal journey began with my first anvil at the ripe young age of 9. Then my uncle and father apprenticed me once I was 10. They taught me the beginnings over the next 5 years or so until my grandfather was willing to take me on as a journeyman for the next stage of my journey.
For the next 15 years my grandfather, who’d made key pieces of equipment for the Fontana Dam project during WWII, amongst other important works, trained me day in and day out until he believed I was ready. During that time I learned what I believe is one of the most important lessons a great blacksmith can learn: there is no such thing as a short cut or a way to hurry as a blacksmith; everything worth doing as a master is worth taking the time to do right because our work will last for generations to come. My goal is for no one to ever be able to look at my work and notice flaw where they say “well, maybe he was in a hurry that day.”
My story began back in 1938 in Binghamton, New York when I was born. That city was my home, where I went to school; it was where I grew up and started to know the world. I went on to graduate from Colgate University at the age of 22 with a Bachelors in Political Science and a minor in Pre-Law. During my time invested there I was the Senior Manger for the School’s football team, made it to the “Who’s Who list for American Colleges and Universities, and was a member of the fraternity Kappa Delta Rho.
Immediately after I graduated I began a career, my other career, with the New York Telephone Company [a subsidiary of AT&T] in the Revenue Accounting Department with an office located in Syracuse, New York. 35 years later I retired after holding positions such as General Accounting Manager for the New York Telephone Company, VP Comptroller & Treasurer for NYNEX Mobile, and finally VP of Ethics, Quality and Business Conduct with NYNEX Corp. All of these positions sum up my other career and ended with my retirement and relocation to the greater Asheville, North Carolina area in 1995.
Throughout my other career and my first career, as a father and husband, I also pursue other endeavors. However, retirement has allowed me to spend more time with people at Church, the United Way, Kiwanis, Mentoring and other projects I help with in the community.
My role with Barkley’s Mill has been one of being a joyous spectator and friend. I’ve enjoyed watching the progress of the Mill from knowing Jim before hand, to getting to know the various men brought in to build it, to playing a role in documenting its construction and transformation into a business.
Micah Stowe was born and raised in the west Texas city of Lubbock. As a 4th generation farmer, one could say that farming is in his blood. The history of his family farming lies mostly in cotton; however, Micah has grown up farming sorghum grain, corn, and cotton as well.
Micah attended Texas Tech University where he majored in Agriculture and Applied Economics as well as Accounting. Upon completing his degree, he entered the crop management field for the following six years.
In 2000, Micah’s career took a turn more towards his accounting background, and he relocated to Albany, GA to manage CCC, Inc – a full-service cotton ginnery supply and construction firm. This was a completely different than his farming days in Texas, and after 14 years in the accounting world Micah packed his bags and headed to Asheville, NC with his family to join the family at Barkley’s Mill.
At Barkley’s Mill, Micah is getting back to his farming roots. He is working hands on in the fields planting and harvesting our corn crop; maintaining our promise to practice truly sustainable farming methods. Micah, alongside all of our artisans, is an invaluable addition to Barkley’s Mill and we are proud to call him one of our own.