WHY START A FARM?
Many of you are probably wondering why Gayle and Ken created Winchester Creek Farm and what gave them the inspiration to do so. So, we thought we’d share that with you.
Gayle and Ken both were fortunate enough to grow up with many kinds of animals. It was because of this that they each harbor a deep love and appreciation for all critters.
Gayle was born into an active duty Navy home, where at a young age she experienced moving across the nation multiple times. But no matter how many times she moved, she’d always spend her summers in Wisconsin on her Great Grandmother and Great Uncle Frank’s farm. It was there that her deep love for animals evolved. She’d spend hours playing with and “training” them, learning everything she could about them to deepen her connection with and knowledge of animals. She interacted with countless animals on her summer adventures in Wisconsin, from horses, cows, and dogs, to cats, chickens, peacocks, and bunnies. Her days were filled with adventures. With her Uncle Frank on the farm and her Great Grandmother in the kitchen, Gayle learned to bake and cook and plant plentiful gardens. To her, summers on the farm were a welcome contrast to her life back home in California, where she and her family lived in naval housing in Coronado. Her curiosity to start a farm continued to grow even after graduating college, when she bought a small hobby farm in Minnesota to raise peacocks, chickens, mini horses, goats, and potbelly pigs. Her love for farms and animals only continued to grow after meeting her husband Ken.
Uncle Frank gave me my horse Frosty for my 13th birthday. I loved him so much that I slept in the barn with him the first two nights, so he wouldn’t be scared.
Uncle Frank was the one who taught me how to love and care for animals. He was the kindest and most loving man. Like a Doctor Doolittle. Peacocks, chickens, kittens, calves, horses, dogs, cows….so many animals to love. Every day was a new adventure… from auctions, to visiting others, to building things, tending to the farm, cooking & baking, and gardening, to selling refurbished antiques at flea markets. We had the greatest summers on the farm.
Ken was born in Minnesota and was raised with several dogs and cats. Despite not having any experience with other animals, he decided to take a job at the Minnesota Zoo as his first job during high school. It was there that he had the opportunity to work with a variety of animals and learned about the love and responsibility it takes to care for animals and how they love back unconditionally. His enjoyment for outdoor work didn’t stop there. Eventually, he decided to start his own lawn and snow maintenance company, which he owned for over 20 years before selling it and moving to Waynesville with Gayle.
Ken and Gayle were lucky enough to meet each other in 1995 and marry in 1998. In 2003, they made the decision to expand their family and adopt. They were blessed with the opportunity to spend time in Kazakhstan where they adopted their son and daughter. They wanted to raise their children by sharing and passing on knowledge and experiences with them, which led to the their kids also taking on a passion for animals while growing up. Their kids still share that passion to this day.
My Great Grandma and I. Hair washed and curled to go to town after we finished our chores. Always fresh vegetables, eggs, milk, and delicious homemade breads and desserts on hand for company.
My little sister Julie and I with my pet hen, Henny Penny. I raised her from a chick. She was so tame that she’d sleep in my lap. She’d jump in my arms when I’d be sitting on the hay bales in the barn, talking with Uncle Frank while he was milking the cows.
Ken and Gayle’s dreams didn’t end at a small hobby farm. Their dreams grew and expanded to something bigger and better. They both wanted to have more than a hobby farm. They wanted to have a farm capable of allowing them to raise mini farm animals and alpacas and would also have room so that they could have big gardens and open areas, and where they could share their love of the farm and of animals with others. In 2019, they found that perfect farm, nestled in a little town south of Asheville, in North Carolina, called Waynesville.
The two of them took a trip to Asheville, which was a stark difference from their home in Minnesota, and they fell in love with the beautiful mountain area and the mild winters. They knew from that moment on that this place was where their dream would become a reality. In 2019, they were fortunate enough to be able to purchase the property we know now as Winchester Creek Farms.
Countless hours of planning and numerous steps had to be done to prepare the farm to accomplish their goals. This building began in August of 2019. Over the next year, barns were built, fences were put up, and additions such as the pavilion were made. Gayle and Ken also made it a goal to recruit an excellent staff and a knowledgeable Farm Manager to care for the animals they planned to adopt and help bring their dream to a reality. The original plan was to open the farm in the late Spring of 2020, but unfortunately COVID-19 hit. That hope was pushed out to the Fall of 2020, when they were finally able to open in late November.
Our first horse, Ginger. She was so gentle and loved kids. We pretended she was our circus horse and Ginger would play right along with us. I was 10 here.
Absolut was my first miniature horse. 1991. He and I had a very close bond. Such a smart little guy. He lived into his 20’s.
The story doesn’t end there…
WHAT’S NEXT FOR WINCHESTER CREEK FARM?
The answer is, so much more! Vegetable gardens, landscaping, and constructing a few more animal shelters. Not to mention building an outdoor kitchen, an animal therapy program, an online store, and the addition of an on-site gift shop called Granny’s House Gift Shop. The original farmhouse at the entrance of the property will be transformed into Granny’s House in honor of Gayle’s mother Charlotte who taught her the love of retail, sales, and entrepreneurship. The store will feature products made from alpaca fiber and farmhouse themed gifts, as well as children’s items, home decor, jewelry, products made by local artists, and so much more. The online store, Grannyshousegifts.com, will open in the Fall of 2020, with the actual physical store opening planned for May of 2021.
The journey of living their dream is just beginning, and they can’t wait to share it with you!
“A dream is just a dream without the
work and effort to make it happen.”
—Gayle’s mom, Charlotte
Me with my dog Jack and my brothers and sister. We loved staying at Great Grandma & Uncle Frank’s farm in Wisconsin. Always animals to play with and adventures galore.