What started with six chickens and two goats grew into a 10-acre free-range farm with hundreds of animals.
Natayla Kaverina and Dennis Gasky, owners of Ga Sky Farm in Gainesville, said they never expected to become farmers. The fresh eggs, produce and animals lured them into the farm life.
“Once I did it, I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Gasky said. “It sure beats working in the office. If I ever had to quit this and work in the cubicle, I don’t know if I could handle it.”
Five years ago the married couple left their 2-acre home in Gainesville for another place in town, but with more land. From there they began to purchase and breed additional Nigerian dwarf goats, chickens and ducks. They also set up a vegetable garden.
Once their number of chickens grew to around 100, they decided it was time to share their farm production with the public.
The farm currently has around 400 chickens, 60 ducks and 25 goats.
People can purchase duck eggs, vegetables, herbs, fruit, pecans and chicken eggs via their website, gaskyfarm.com, then pick up the product at the farm.
Depending on the size of the chicken and duck eggs, the items are priced anywhere from $4.25-$6.75 per dozen. The couple receives a couple hundred eggs per day year-round.
Kaverina said one of the main differences between duck and chicken eggs, besides the size, involves the texture and flavor.
“Duck eggs have a big yolk, they’re better for baking and they’re silkier and smoother,” she said.
Gasky and Kaverina also sell goat milk, but it can only be consumed by animals because of Georgia raw milk regulations.
Every morning Gasky wakes up at sunrise to tend to the animals, which all have free rein of the 10-acre property. This process takes a couple of hours, then he repeats it during the evening. Gasky takes charge of feeding the animals, cleaning the stalls and providing water, while Kaverina works as the goat milker.
The two hold other jobs during the day. Kaverina works as a fitness instructor, and Gasky conducts home inspections and holds a part-time job at Tractor Supply Co.
“I never even thought about having a farm, I’m a city girl,” Kaverina said. “I just love being outside all the time with the animals, and having our own vegetables and milk is so much better.”
Kaverina and Gasky breed their Nigerian dwarf goats every year and allow people to purchase them.
Gasky said the two originally bought goats with the goal of them eating their poison ivy. They soon found out that the goats were picky eaters, but produced large quantities of milk.
“Our goats don’t eat everything,” Gasky said with a chuckle. “If a little drop of poop gets in the hay, they won’t touch it.”
Although the property doesn’t hold organic farm certification, the couple said that they practice natural growing methods, using no chemical pesticides or fertilizers. They save their own seeds or buy organic seeds when needed.
As for the chickens and ducks, they freely roam around the property, mostly consuming the bugs, vegetation and other natural food on the farm. When feed becomes necessary, they make it from the corn grown on the farm.
Gasky said he receives hundreds of pounds of organic feed for the goats every week.
Gasky and Kaverina chose the free-range farm method because of the happiness and healthiness it brings to the animals.
“I think a healthier chicken is going to produce a better egg,” Gasky said. “You crack one of these eggs and a store-bought one, and the store-bought one is usually really dull and ours is colorful and bright.”
With hundreds of farm birds picking up insects constantly, Gasky said he hasn’t seen a tick, flea or mosquito in sight, even though they have a pond.
Before owning chickens, he didn’t realize that they eat anything that moves — even chicks.
“If the babies are not around the mom, they’ll swarm,” he said. “I didn’t know chickens were so brutal.”
Although the few roosters on the farm do their best to alert and protect the other farm animals from danger, Gasky said predators still inflict harm.
He said one of the main challenges with having a free-range farm involves keeping the chickens and ducks alive.
Once every three to four weeks a hawk will kill a chicken. During one summer, Gasky said coyotes dug under the fence, which surrounds the property, and killed a couple of ducks. Since putting barbed wire at the bottom of the fence, Gasky said he hasn’t seen the coyotes.
Every so often, chickens will clear the property’s fence and become rogue. Gasky said the best way to catch them is with a large fish net.
Through having a farm which requires daily maintenance, the couple said they have given up any thought of taking a vacation.
One of Gasky’s favorite past-times includes rock climbing. Before starting the farm he would travel to rock climbing destinations like Yosemite National Park. He now sticks to local spots.
“People ask me, ‘How was your holiday?’” Kaverina said. “I say, ‘Just like any other day.’”
Dennis Gasky said people don’t need a lot of property to raise chickens, goats and ducks. His animals have access to 10 acres, but only stick to a fraction of the space.
For those who want to begin their own little farm, the couple encourages them to start with
chickens, then expand.
“Just do it,” Gasky said. “The homegrown stuff is so much better and I love working outside and working with the animals.”
After ordering eggs, milk or produce from the Ga Sky Farm website, people can pick up their goods from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday or noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday at 3434 Holcomb Road in Gainesville. For more information about the farm call 770-331-4649 or email email@example.com.