It All Started with Chickens
Thanks for visiting Hop & Hen Farm. As the name implies, we have chickens and grow hops, and raise goats, who hop — a lot! In addition, we grow herbs, native plants, and tend bees.
First came the chickens around 2015: we decided we wanted fresh eggs every day and we knew too, that we had an interest in having a small farm. But how to manage the brush sustainably? Enter “Goats”! We decided to rescue some male baby goats, (because traditionally, they are discarded on most dairy farms). After a few weeks of bottle-feeding 3 hungry bucklings 5-6 times a day, it didn’t take long for us to realize how much fun they are…but also, how much hard work they are to keep! We rescued another goat, Annie, from a commercial dairy farm in West Virginia.
She was so afraid and so very skinny when we brought her home, but as the days went by, she accepted our 3 bucklings as her own and became a healthy, super happy part of the family. She, like all our furry/feathered friends are very loved and cared for. Things started to come together for our little herd, and as Annie weaned the boys, we started making cheese, then lotion, then soap, and the feedback from friends and family was really positive. It was easy to come up with a name for the soaps and lotions, as Annie really deserves all the credit 🙂
When we started to plan a little business around our farm, we knew we wanted to connect with other small farmers, so whenever possible, we put their raw materials into our supply chain. We get raw wool, for example, from sheep-keepers we know. This helps strengthen the micro-economy, as well as supports other makers and producers with a similar outlook as ours. Our goal is to handcraft products people and families can truly use, not just products to be consumed or set on a shelf.
The goat milk in our soaps and lotions comes right from our farm, fresh and raw, and is absolutely humanely derived. We only milk once every other day for about 10 minutes per goat, which allows them to easily feed their babies, while they spend the entirety of the day eating, browsing, playing, sunning, and sleeping.
We select our other ingredients because they are safe, natural or cosmetic grade, not tested on animals, and the most sustainably-sourced we can affordably provide. We try to include organic whenever possible, and keep the ingredient list simple, leaving out unnecessary colorants, fragrances and additives unless it really helps make the product even better. We’re a “micro-batch” operation, not a factory, so items have real “love” built right into it. This also means we might run short on something that’s popular, we’re already working to have it back in stock as quickly as we can!
Packaging Matters Really Matter
We’re of the mind that you can have really carefully-crafted products, but to what end, when they’re wrapped and packaged in plastic, and shipped in things that can’t biodegrade or be recycled? Just. Ew.
When it came to deciding packaging, we put a lot of thought into how to make use of sustainable, reusable and repurposed items. Our napkins are a perfect example: each bundle is wrapped in a scrap of fabric that would have otherwise gone in the trash. Our lotion line is all served up in aluminum tins, so ideal for reuse or recycling. Annie Goat Soaps are packaged recycled paper, and even the labels for our tins are made by a company that is powered by the wind!
With shipping, we try to keep things as lightweight as we can, reducing the carbon footprint of freight costs and fuel use, plus, we ship in either recycled boxes, or recyclable mailers, and even repurpose shipping materials we’ve received, and use paper shipping tape. There’s always room for improvement, and we’re always thinking about the next best way to improve this segment of our business.
Support in Our Community and Beyond
If you know us at all, you know volunteerism, mentoring and earnest allyship is a part of our fiber. We don’t just talk about it, we live it and support it, with our time, talent, and treasure, and individually have for decades. Recently, we decided to make a sustained commitment by financially supporting an organization that helps people living in the many existing “food deserts“, and we also donate a portion of our sales to several local animal rescues.