At Channell Homestead, everything earns its keep.
Horses are used for teaching private riding lessons; goats give birth to babies that can be sold and produce milk for lotions and soaps; chickens bring hatchlings and eggs; and bees make honey and beeswax that can be turned into lip balm.
“We love having pets around but it’s important that our pets can contribute. Everything here provides and everything gives back,” Matt Channell, who runs the farm with his wife Christanie, said.
“We use every inch of our property here,” Christanie added.
The Channells are relatively new to the life of small town farming. They bought their 2.5-acre property on Hanson’s South Street six years ago when they were looking to expand Christanie’s business teaching horseback riding lessons. A few years later, she bought a pair of Nigerian dwarf goats, and the farm is now home to Flemish giant rabbits, Blue Swedish ducks, Wynadotte chickens and a lone goose who stands watch over the animals.
“After our first babies were born I went to my first goat show and got hooked,” she said. “Every year I’ve been trying to breed and sell for show lines and dairy lines. I’m getting more milk than ever.”
And she’s turning that milk into products for a bustling online store, one she says has received overwhelming support from local shoppers and beyond.
“It started out, like a lot of the things we do here, as a hobby,” Christanine said. “But then the two of us just say ‘If this is something we can make money with, we’ll go with it.’ We’re very business minded. . . What started as a hobby of a cute goat as a pet turned into this business.”
On their website, Christanie sells soaps in a dozen different scents, hand sanitizer, lotion, bath salts, sugar scrubs, shampoo bars, lip balms and gift baskets. She said people jump at the chance to support a local farm, she’s received feedback that has brought tears to her eyes — like hearing from a mom who used goat milk lotion to clear her son’s itchy skin.
“Stuff like that is crazy and makes me emotional,” she said. “I feel like I’m just making a product – like a lot of people are – but it’s really impacting people. I feel like I’m just making soap, it is what it is, but people rave about it and tell their friends and it’s just amazing how all of this has grown.”
In addition to selling the finished products, Christanie and Matt have given people a behind-the-scenes look at what it means to own a small, working farm. Christanie has live-streamed videos making soap, encouraged people to ask questions and even gone live on Facebook during goat births and when baby chicks are hatching.
“The urban homestead is appealing to people,” Matt said. “We’re pretty close to Boston, yet we still have a farm. People like learning from it and getting off of their own little postage-stamp-property.”
The pair opened their property for a farm day last year, which drew visitors from all over the region to feed goats, pet bunnies and go on pony rides. They recently planted a garden of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, potatoes and more, and plan to grow a small drive-up farm stand next to their house.
Christanie has 100 thoughts on how to expand the shop’s offerings and bring more faces to the farm, but knows there is only so much two people — and a new baby — can do.
“It’s incredible, and that’s what keeps the fire in me. It can be overwhelming and frustrating, it’s hard having a 1-year-old and trying to get all of this stuff done, but the reviews and the response has been amazing. People love it and I love it.”
Photos in this post were taken by the wonderfully talented Greg Derr. They were originally published in The Patriot Ledger.