Hello there! I am Theresa Eichers, owner of Eichers Hobby Farm.
The first 18 years of my life I spent on a dairy farm with amazing animals including my pet goat Goldie.
The next 35 years of my life I was in the cosmetology/aesthetician industry, owning my own salon/spa 20 of those years. I retired from the beauty industry in 2014.
To back up just a bit, in 2011 Jerry, my husband, and I started a hobby farm with goats as our main animal. We started making goat milk face and body creams and goat milk soap. When I was creating the recipes for my products, my salon/spa clients were my test subjects. They helped choose the scents I made for the first creams and soaps. In 2012, I started going to Farmers Market‘s and sharing our products with the public. I have a deep desire to help people by providing these products. In all the years in the beauty industry I saw people with many skin and health issues.
I come from a background starting with my great uncle who practiced natural healing technics. My parents along with many other people I knew from my past instilled the natural approach to skin care, medicine, food consumption and all other natural live off the land behaviors.
While owning my spa salon I also used natural holistic products and that’s what I am currently focused on with the goat soaps and creams providing people with all natural products. We are also serving goat cheese and goat meat “all natural” and made at our licensed cheese processing plant. We look forward to serving our community with all natural products and hope that you will give us a try for I know you will totally enjoy all our products which have been made with tons of love!
Jerry and Theresa Eichers
Goats provide entertainment, income
Eichers couple turns hobby into business with milk byproducts
By: Jennifer Coyne
AVON, Minn. – On any given day, Jerry Eichers is outside tending to the goat herd, while his wife, Theresa, is in the house making products from the goat milk.
It is an arrangement the couple has had for many years on their dairy goat farm, Eichers Hobby Farm, in Stearns County near Avon, Minn.
Jerry and Theresa are milking 22 does and use the milk to make all natural face and body creams, soaps, as well as cheese. They also sell milk and meat from the herd.
“We want to get as many streams of income from these goats as we can,” Jerry said. “That’s just a good financial plan.”
The herd of Alpine, Boer, Kiko, Nubian, Toggenburg and Saanen is housed in a 30- by 70-foot poll shed and milked in a six-unit milking station. Jerry milks the herd twice a day, and then transfers the milk to the nearby milkhouse where it is strained and placed in containers.
Then, whatever milk is not sold as fluid milk, Theresa will process into goat cheese in the couple’s licensed cheese processing room or use in her homemade body and face creams, a wrinkle cream and lip cream, and variety of scented soaps.
Creating creams and soaps from the milk was not the Eichers’ intentions when they first purchased goats, but came out of necessity when their milk volume exceeded what they could consume.
“When we first started, we milked the goats by hand and had so much milk,” Theresa said. “That’s when I started messing around with cheeses and creams.”
The Eichers’ became dairy goat farmers in December 2011.
Both Jerry and Theresa grew up in the agriculture industry, and Theresa was looking to return to those familiar roots.
“I begged Jerry for a goat,” Theresa said. “I saw a kid on Craigslist that looked like the same goat I had growing up.”
While the Eichers did not purchase the young kid, they did come home with one milking doe and one due to kid. Not long after, their herd grew to 150 does and kids.
All the while Jerry was operating a concrete business and Theresa owned a salon/spa.
In realizing the herd was too large, they downsized to a more manageable size of 61 total – a number they maintain today.
“We didn’t need them all,” Jerry said. “We only kept as many as we needed for the demand of milk and other products.”
For three years, the couple balanced their full-time careers, while also establishing their hobby farm. They would wake early to milk the herd and then take turns leaving their jobs in the late afternoons to milk the herd at night.
Theresa brought sample products to her salon clients and used their feedback to develop her product line.
Then, in 2014, Theresa sold her business and gave full attention to the farm.
“We knew we needed to purchase the pasteurizer for our milk, but it was too big of investment with both of us working full time. We knew we could only do one at a time,” said Jerry, who then joined Theresa at the farm full time in 2017.
Both Jerry and Theresa have enjoyed establishing their goat herd and goat milk product line.
Currently, the couple offers products in a variety of fragrances, including energy orange, lavender, black licorice and peppermint, among others, and also, unscented. Theresa travels to area craft sales to promote the farm business, and has also worked with local storefronts to showcase the products.
“It’s so cool to see what our products can do for people,” said Theresa, noting the health benefits of goat milk.
However, the greatest challenge Jerry and Theresa face is creating a brand for their product in an existing market.
“Goat milk products are already out there,” Jerry said. “We’ve had to work really hard to create trust and support from people for our business.”
“God has aligned everything perfectly,” she said. “It’s all falling into place. We know his mighty hand is working hard for us.”
Jerry and Theresa put a large emphasis on transparency; how they raise their animals and how the products are made.
The herd is fed a ration of oats, barley, peas and hay, and supplemented with vitamins and minerals. Jerry harvests the crops off the couple’s land near Bertha, Minn.; about an hour northwest of the farm.
“We know this diet is better for the consumer,” Jerry said.
Eichers’ goats also only kid in the springtime.
“Right now, I have a little flexibility for milking times, but in March it has to be like clockwork,” said Jerry, who milks at 6 in the morning and night.
During kidding season, the couple could welcome as many as 13 kids in a day, or easily 50 in a week.
The Eichers’ have found a niche market for their farming style, although they admit it is not a way for everyone to manage a farm.
“We still have to feed the global population, and if everyone farmed like we do it couldn’t be done,” Jerry said. “We can do it this way because we market to a certain type of people.”
Since starting their second careers in the agriculture industry nine years ago, the Eichers’ have found purpose and reward as dairy farmers.
“We never really planned for this, but now we’re not going to retire,” Theresa said. “We’re going to do this as long as God [wills us].”