Can you make a living on the homestead?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Dixielee, Dec 9, 2003.

  1. Dixielee

    Dixielee Well-Known Member

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    My husband and I have 40 acres in the Arkansas Ozarks and are going to try to make a little money on our place. We are 35 miles from the nearest small town of 2500, and 2 hours north of Little Rock. We have some infrastructure in place, i.e., several ponds, 7 acres fenced pasture, nice big garden, well, trailer we are living in. We have 3 doe goats, 30 something chickens and a few dogs. My husband is retired and I am a Registered Nurse. We are getting older but are both very healthy (thank God). My husband is building us a house and has built all of the out buildings, done the clearing, fencing etc. He is extremely handy and knowledgable about everything, and I just try to keep up with him. We would love to make some money possibly selling meat goats. I would like to do more goat milk related things, like making soap, cheese, etc. We have a nice garden, fruit trees, etc. but are looking for some ideas to make enough money for me to either quit work or cut back to a few days a month. Our place is paid for, but we still have some other bills of course. Any ideas or links to ideas would be appreciated. I know others are doing it. We are not close enough to a town to do any selling of produce, fresh herbs etc. but were wondering what internet selling ideas may be available as well. We are flexible and open to any and all suggestions as to how to make money at home. We are not afraid of hard work, we just want to do it at home. Thanks
     
  2. Dont ever get discouraged in whatever you choose to try, mostly because what works here might not there and verse visa for a myiad of reasoning. being 35 miles from a large marketplace is not bad.... in fact is quite close, I suggest reading up on some of the things Joel Salatin has accomplished on his family farm over the years and try putting some of his concepts into your plan as well if you can make them work for you.

    A person has to rethink what a "living" is and what "needs" and "wants" are and what you can actually do with or without. Making a living is not akin really to living a lifestyle free of the burdens of the great multitude of mamin worshiping slaves the most of people have become in this country. However tempering what you can do, with what people desire, and putting yourself into a position of manufacturer, and advertising director, and retailer for you own products will garner you an amount of dollars to at least pay the state its rent [property tax] as that is what the "value of property" really is after all is said and done just what you can afford to pay the state for the priviledge of using that property in earning an income either on it or outside of it, purely a choice of an individual.

    For a bunch of great ideas, www.survivalplus.com has a very good price for information in both print and on CD and the "whole enchilada" is a bargain. I have no finacial interest in the site, just find it fasinating that there is such information out there and few people ever take advantage of information that valueable.

    Have a great day, week and rest of the year! may your farmstead bring you what you really desire!
     

  3. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

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    For some reason or another I was no longer logged in, however the above diatribe was mine, for what it is worth, i do wish you the best!

    Blu3duk
     
  4. BamaSuzy

    BamaSuzy Well-Known Member

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    Not putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, is the best way to make a living on your homestead! That way if one source of income is down, you still have others.

    We don't make our living from actual homestead things, so to speak, but we are both home-based. I am a newspaper editor with my office at home and my husband is a licensed electrician/handyman who basically works from home and his van...

    In the past I have taught keyboard, piano and beginning guitar lessons to make extra money, done lots of freelance writing, and more.

    Now we sell enough eggs to pay for our chicken feed and we're slowly explanding our homestead. I raise Angora rabbits but don't sell them preferring to raise them for my own use since I am learning so spin (doing much better).

    We have considered selling bags of rabbit manure and may do that next spring to help in paying the rabbit expenses.

    I am looking to buy some fiber sheep and Angora goats also.

    We have a friend who dumpster dives and we get a lot of wonderful food for the chickens (and sometimes us!).

    best wishes!
     
  5. Ana Bluebird

    Ana Bluebird Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would think it would depend on whether you can make the sacrifices to live within your small budget. Like giving up phones, electricity, city water, TV, buying stuff you don't actually have to have, you know make the necessary sacrifices. Most people don't want to do that, they want their air conditioning, their portable phone, their computer, their satellite TV, the comfort things, and all that costs money. I grew up without that stuff, so I'll go to work and keep my comfort things. But that's me.
     
  6. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

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  7. bgak47

    bgak47 Well-Known Member

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    I've only been here a short time, but I have a question that has puzzled me since I became a member. How can homesteaders afford their internet connection? And if they are ''off the grid'',how do they power the computer to post here?I'm posting from my city home,with cable TV & internet,but my country place only has a land line & is long distance to any ISP. Just Wondering?
     
  8. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    The larger the ISP, the more likely they are to have a local number. For example, AOL has a local number in Waverly. Also check out your telephone service to see if they have area-wide calling. When I started with AOL I had to go to either Clarksville, TN or Nashville, TN. Both were long distance. I signed up for area-wide calling, which made any phone calls basically in the middle third of TN local calls. Since most of my long distance calls were also within this area, the decrease in long distance offset most of the increase in the area wide calling rate. If you have a Wal-Mart locally, likely you can get a local number for either wmconnect (their Internet service) or AOL. Wmconnect is basically AOL-lite as it is AOL version 5.0 or so. Most of the features of AOL, without the bells and whistles, for $9.99 per month. Same access number. Same technical support.

    You will find very few of the forum partipicants live complete 'off the grid'.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  9. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    We make the majority of our income from our home but it is not all ag related income. Our boarding kennel is a large component of our income and some part time jobs, makes our "farm" income surplus to our needs. It gets invested back into the farm. We are adding wool processing to the sheep farm and milking sheep for cheese making too. Think retail and you'll probably be better off than planning for wholesale revenue. I have to say living next (part of really) a city of one million people makes it pretty easy, so I dont know how much you can apply to your situation. My way of affording Inet etc. is to spend more time thinking of how to make money and a little less on saving it and making do. Both points are important but only one will get you ahead.
     
  10. Zack

    Zack Well-Known Member

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    I hope I can make a living from my homestead but ultimately that will be up to me.
    Personally I have no intention of taking a vow of poverty to do so. Yet we have started with very humble beginnings, 2 room shack with an old 31' airstream I got for my teenage boy to live in.
    My plan is to remain small scale but very diversified I only have 117 ac total and only 75 or so where our house is. But its paid for.

    I am looking into Fish farming for food and bait and greenhouse produce.
    I have already started tree farming for lumber and would like to get into ornamental shrubs for local sales.
    I will be offering stud service with my stallion as well as breading German shepardsBut I recently lost my best female. Chickens and rabbits to sublimate the dogs and family food bills.
    We will start with this and see what happens we will have to learn as we go but that is how most start. The internet and sites like this one will surely help lesson the pain of the learning curve involved.
    But there is no quick money to be made in farming and will surely be primarily out flowing cash for the first few years. :waa:

    Hope this works.
     
  11. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    bgak47 wrote:

    I've only been here a short time, but I have a question that has puzzled me since I became a member. How can homesteaders afford their internet connection? And if they are ''off the grid'',how do they power the computer to post here?I'm posting from my city home,with cable TV & internet,but my country place only has a land line & is long distance to any ISP. Just Wondering?

    I think there are a range of answers. For example, some ISPs off 800 numbers that are a certain amount per hour. This may actually be cheaper than paying long distance to dial in. Other people use satellite.

    In my case I am looking at pulling in a T-1 and then reselling to my neighbors. This isn't my highest priority for now as I don't have electricity or even telephone into our country place yet. I had originally planned on doing a wireless bridge into town (the county seat which is about 5 miles away)....then I found out there wasn't any connectivity in the whole county (go figure). Internet infrastructure is what I do for a living so the tech side of things doesn't bother me. The real question for me is whether wireless distribution makes sense vs trying to get an easement/cut an agreement to run cable on poles.

    I try not to get hung up on the connectivity issue because I believe that sooner or later it will resolve itself.

    As usual, just my 2 cents.

    Mike
     
  12. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Ahhh... the 6 million dollar question. You already have the first part and that is your husband is retired, that is if he has a pension or money coming in. Most people on here make a little money from their home, usually a very little. The biggest trick is to have an income coming in that pays all of the bills, then you can make supplemental income. Meat goats are like meat rabbits, the only people making money are the ones selling breeding stock. You generally don't see many people buying goats or rabbits to eat. You can make money and you're only limited by your imagination.
     
  13. If you are into goats you might look into Kinder goats. They are a cross of Nubian and African Pygmy goats. They give good milk and meat. The does will give you 3 or 4 kids with every breeding and since they go into heat 3 times a year (rather than just fall) they can be bred every 10 months. Kinder goats are new and rare, so you could make a bit of money off the kids as well. You have to use a Nubian doe and a pygmy buck if you can't find Kinder goats in your area. I thought I saw someone in Michigan selling Nubians and pygmies on the goat string (page 2 or 3?). I didn't catch where you are from. Anyway, you might be able to find something in your area if you are interested.
    I am hoping to do this soon. We are in the process of building our little homestead.
     
  14. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    To each his own but I really don't think 3 Kinders will equal 1 Boer cross at 6 months weightwise. And since does only have 2 teats you have to hand feed the excess many times a day which is not cost effective in my mind. Also the small size of Kinders makes them prime targets for coyotes and maurding dogs. My Boer cross buck was pushing 400# with horns 3' long, and when he reared up he was at least 7 feet tall. Nothing messed with him nor his ladies. Kinders have their place in the goat world, but not in the meat sector I don't feel. My Nibians and French Alpine does went into heat twice a year. Whether they "catch" or not depends on the buck as the Spring heat only lasts about 24 hours. A good buck will breed them twice a year, but you have to have good facilities so you don't lose 75% or better in the winter birthing. All of the above is, of course, predicated on having a goat business.
     
  15. Swampdweller

    Swampdweller Well-Known Member

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    There are a million things that folks can do to make money on site.
    However, my experience is such that, if one is not afraid of hard work, there are even more things that can be done in the absense of money. We live comfortably on much less than 100 bucks a month. But we have a fairly busy day.

    Swampdweller
     
  16. Sharon in NY

    Sharon in NY Well-Known Member

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    I think you can, over time, and if you want to. We run a small, expanding CSA. In terms of land and time, we could probably make a living - not the living we have now, but enough money to eat and pay the taxes. On the other hand I'm fond of certain luxuries, like health insurance and the occasional trip to visit relatives, so we've elected not to even work towards that goal seriously. Both my husband and I teach a bit over part-time, and run the CSA in the summer. There is no question that there's enough demand for what we have - but I want to keep enjoying my work, and not feel as though I've skipped out on the rat race only to create one on my own farm.

    I agree that multiple enterprises are a lot better than one. I'm working on extending our season, so that we can provide produce for more than the current 20 weeks per year. Right now we're making all of our money in the warm months, selling free-range broilers and veggies, with a small dried flower concession in the winter. Our long range goals include season extension - both selling cold tolerant greens and roots to restaurants and also extending our CSA delivery season; forced bulbs and bedding plants in the spring, more kosher slaughtered meat, and honey production. We're also considering winter cottage industries compatible with our CSA, but it isn't clear that these would ever be more profitable than teaching.

    One of my neighbors has this system down perfectly - he raises sheep and lambs in the early spring. He and his wife have a greenhouse bedding plants business that runs through May and June. In June, July and August, he cuts and sells hay. In the fall he sells mums, pumpkins, cornstalk decorations, etc... In November he butchers his turkeys and sells them at premium, and in December, he sells Christmas trees off his property. Nothing makes him rich, but he's got 3 kids in college and they do ok - this is my role model.

    Sharon
     
  17. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

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    Dixielee,

    Your story is almost just like ours. We live 2 hours west of Little Rock. Dh and I are building our house ourselves. I am a nurse and now work in Hot Springs. Dh is "retired" aka laid off from a large computer co.

    Besides nursing, I do pottery. I take the raw clay and form it on a potter's wheel, but that is quite a learning curve, and you might find that learning to pour greenware and glazing that could net you just about as much on a part-time basis.

    Dh does web site development and word of mouth has gotten him business. He could do more if he weren't tied up doing the house. He also built a wood drying kiln. This was an investment up front for the building and the dehumidifier. We have really benefited from this on our own house, but he eventually plans to dry lumber and also provide further finishing services such as planing and tongue/grooving of lumber for people. Not sure how much we will make on this, but we have people call all the time wondering about having lumber dried. There are lots of sawyers around here, but no one else dries.

    Eventually, once the house is done, we hope to harvest some of the trees on our property, dry the wood, finish it and Dh make a small line of furniture with my handmade tiles on top.

    All of this said, I doubt that I will be able to quit working for a while as health insurance is a huge expense for us if I don't work. We just don't have the savings or the income from other sources to keep affording the premiums.
     
  18. Janon

    Janon 993cc Geo Metro

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    When folks here say "I want to work from home"... what are they saying? Are they saying that they want to work less and simply enjoy more home time? Are they saying that they're willing to work far more hours just to stay at "home"? Are they saying that they're willing to lead a much simpler life without many of the "conventional luxuries"?

    Ask anyone who owns their own business (which is the majority of those that work from home) how much time they spend working. Whether they work here or there is just geography.

    Don't overlook other skills which you may have or other money making opportunities. Just because you live on 200 acres does not mean your money must come from there.

    cheers,
     
  19. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

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    I traded my ISP for service for awhile, now i am the System Admin for them, so my connection fee of $25/month has been waved [24/7] and as soon as i can get the time i will build a wireless connection for the homestead so i can work at home after working in town all day..... maybe i should stay with the land line modem 19K connection for awhile longer.

    We are not off grid, some of our nieghbors are, and one of them is a wireless customer...... the power supply in your computer takes 11o AC and converts it to 3-12 volt DC, thereby creating a doubleup and down in taking off grid 12 volt and inverting it to 120 AC, using a power supply to convert it back to DC .... a smart person would find the place on the bridge and tap into it with their DC power thru a regulated supply line and not use much amperage at all, but most people think that computers are complicated machines which keeps my job about as secure as any has been in a long while.
     
  20. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member

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    You can make a living off of it IF you address it as a business, have a milestone plan to follow, avoid being overcome with what I call the "modern homesteading warm fuzzies" and establish multiple streams of income by diversification of asset reserves. I built toward my transition over a 15 year period through normal industrial employment / future savings and after a forced layoff at age 40 , I converted from industrial employment and savings investing to home place production and sales in conjunction with active investing to fuel my current non industrial lifestyle. I find my environment now as a smaller scale model of the rat race environment from which I fully exited with myself as the primary decision maker of what path to pursue the most profitable return without returning to large cap industrial. I find it harder than just being a production monkey in industry, but it is much more rewarding with no risk of layoff :haha: