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Meet the Kings of ArkAngel Farms

Many people meet Tanya King through her sidekick, Betty, the sociable golden Silkie hen that has been coming to the market with King since 2008.
It is King’s flock of 60 hens that supply ArkAngel Farms’ fresh eggs at the market. But horses ­— and King’s father who taught her all about them — are really behind all of King’s farm endeavors.
King was raised on and around horse farms in Lexington, Ky., and Ocala, Fla.
“When we lived in Kentucky, my dad worked at Churchill Downs Racetrack and on Claiborne Farms, the home of Secretariat,” she says. “I was on a horse from the time I was 6 months old, riding in front of my mom. I do not know life without a horse. They are a part of me.”
All her life, King has trained, cared for and shown horses. When she was 15, she worked cleaning horse stalls at a large horse farm until she could save money to buy her first show horse, a 2-year-old Paso Fino gelding named Romeo.
“Most kids save for their first car. My first car was a horse,” King says.
She trained Romeo and they took home a state champion title in Florida in 1995.
Romeo, along with an Arabian stallion named Gabriel, moved with King’s family when they relocated to the Tri-Cities in 1997.
King’s parents were moving closer to their native Southwest Virginia roots and her father, Bill Franklin, worked full time as a horse trainer and farrier in the area.
King has followed in her father’s footsteps. While she has not pursued horse training as a profession, she certainly has a full-time passion for working with horses.
In fact, King was riding a horse when she met her future husband, Terry.
They coincided while King was showing Romeo at the horse expo in Morristown, and Terry, a member of the 12th Tennessee Cavalry Civil War re-enactment group, was there doing a cavalry demonstration on his war horse, Dusty.
Two years later, Tanya and Terry married, and Romeo and Dusty live with them and their son, Benjamin, on ArkAngel Farm in Jonesborough. The name “ArkAngel” was inspired by beloved stallion Gabriel who still lives on King’s farm.
ArkAngel Farm is also home to 17 other horses, 60 rare and heritage breed chickens, 15 ducks, 12 geese, six dogs, a rabbit and one very spoiled housecat named Charlie.
King’s chickens include breeds such as Silkies, Nankins, Polish Crested and old English game. In addition to selling eggs at the farmers market, she also sells hatching eggs on ebay.
King got started on ebay about eight years ago when she was trying to find Silkie eggs.”I couldn’t believe how many folks were raising and selling eggs this way, so I decided to give it a try,” she says.
If held at the correct temperature, a fertilized egg can stay viable for seven days, so she has only a short window to sell and ship to a buyer. She keeps the eggs in a turner at a controlled temperature and has to sell quickly and pack carefully. “I’ve gotten really good at packing for shipping,” she says.
In the spring King sells up to six dozen eggs per week online and finds it worth the effort. Heritage breeds can sell for $20-$80 per dozen. Once, a dozen eggs from an especially rare breed started a bidding war that took the price up to $250 per dozen, she says, but that is not the norm.
Crafts are also an original ArkAngel Farm product. Terry makes walking sticks, barn stars and garden gates out of vintage tobacco sticks, he also hand crafts candleholders out of recycled wine bottles and Tanya makes candles that include handpoured 100 percent soy wax and hand-dipped beeswax tapers.
And, of course, there is seasonal garden produce that King grows for herself and also sells at the market. King credits her father with instilling in her a love of plants and animals.
Franklin was a constant presence on ArkAngel Farm until he died suddenly this summer, but he has left a legacy.
“Some folks have dads who are hunters,” King says. “My dad was a gatherer. He loved life and to see things grow and animals and plants alike seemed to love him back. It is hard to carry on without him. He taught me everything.”