how many out there do it w/o supplemental income?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by poorme, Sep 28, 2004.

  1. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    I'm just curious how many folks out there get by without a job off the farm. I mean no spouse job, no social security, no pension, no "i'm a consultant part time," etc. Oh, and you must have a "family" of at least 2 humans. :D

    I'd like to give it a try, but the health care thing is holding me back...
     
  2. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

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    Poorme, it doesn't matter what the rest of us do, it matters what you are willing to do!

    Many of us here are entrepreneurial and therefore have several income streams. That way, if one is slow, there are others. I am self-employed from a home office. Does that count as working on the farm since my clients come here to see me? I have also occ. worked in friends' businesses when they needed a hand. I teach workshops here and away. All from my home office. Yeah, there are 2 of us, the other IS a consultant and has a home office as well, but travels to clients.


    Why would you want to put all your eggs in one basket? Cause even if you farm it would be worthy to consider various farm income streams. For instance goat milk raw, goat milk cheese, chickens dressed, chicken eggs. Some of which may entail you actually leaving the farm and soliciting sales or delivering products.

    What it seems you might really wonder is what are the risks? Health care can be taken care of by getting a policy such as the one through NASE.org (assoc. of self-employed).
     

  3. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    i'd just like to hear some others' experiences...i have no hope/inclination of doing any sort of "normal person" work from home. i'd like to farm traditionally and supplement my income by doing "alternative" agriculture stuff - farmers markets, etc. AND my wife will raise the kids full time. AND i want to make sure I can pay the doctor's bills.

    i realize this is a really really difficult goal. that's why i was curious if anyone here has actually been able to do it!
     
  4. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If I am understanding you posts you want to generate the majority of your necessary income from farm production. That entails LOTS of acerage and equipment in this day and age which combined with the low prices for corn, wheat, soybeans, beef, etc is why the "traditional" farmer rarely exists now days. It's mostly corporate farms. The "alternative" agriculture stuff is what keep sa lot of us breaking even, sometimes. Speciality or nitch farming is more successful depending on your location to markets. The bottom line really is finding and locking in your market for whatever you produce. So many things are seasonal that a truely successful producer grows and markets several different products in order to generate income year round. Keeping in mind that the more you produce for your own use the less income you need to buy those things.
     
  5. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    yep. you pretty much summed it up. most of the traditional farmer i know have spouses that support the farm and bring in health insurance.
     
  6. DrippingSprings

    DrippingSprings In Remembrance

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    I used to be totally living off my farming enterprises til I had a health and family setback that stopped it. I lost my wife to a drunk driver on Thanksgiving day. I became a single parent to three kids. All while I was down with a serious back injury. So I liquidated down from close to 150 acres to five. I was making a good living off my place. I raised cattle/hogs and chickens. My poultry houses were old but paid for. I could have gotten new ones that would have vastly cut down on my labor but would also have added tons of debt to go with it. The main reason alot of family farms go under isnt because of low prices. it is because of high overhead. Farming is a 24/7 year around occupation. Too many folks decided that working 16 hours a day in the weather etc was too harsh. Their solution? Many went out and bought larger and larger and more expensive machinery. The newest piece of equipment I had was thirty years old. My neighbor struggled to survive. He laughed at me out there from dark to dark on my "small" tracor. He of course opted for a new humongous tractor complete with ac and heat tv etc. He went at it from every direction the same. He lost his farm that his father and his fathers father made a handsome living off of. Think about it for a minute. You have these huge farms that folks made a good living on and now they are bankrupt. WHy? because grt grandpa worked his tail off in the weather and grt grandson wants a combine with more luxuries than most folks homes so he can watch Oprah and pull his crop at the same time. I could have kept my place and only sold it to put it in trust for my children should something happen to me. I didnt want Uncle Sam to get the vast majority of it via inheritance tax.
     
  7. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    This is a sort of "chicken and the egg" type question.

    One of my milk cows buys the feed for the rest of them, but I had to buy them, build my barn, fence my paddocks, and buy the land with money I had already earned.

    My chickens are producing nearly 200 dozen eggs a month, but I need only sell have of the eggs to buy feed for all of the chickens. The coops were built for other purposes and converted, but one has to have a place to keep the chickens before the chickens can ever earn their keep, and one has to buy the original chicks.

    Some folks borrow money and try to make a go of it digging their way out of a hole. Some of us had/have a nest-egg laid back and used it to get started. Still others used some combination of the two, or just inherited all they needed.

    My cattle have not started producing calves yet, but they will in time, and then they will eventually pay me back fo my investment.

    I was forced into retirement for health reasons so I do get a monthly retirement stipend, but my critters are paying their own way and giving 6 families all of their meat; as well as providing milk for eight families.

    I can't imagine how many families benefit from our chickens. We sell just enough eggs to buy the feed (100 dozen a month at $1.65 a dozen), then give our five children and their families all they need. The rest are given to local food shelves and the soup kitchen.

    I don't know if this helps but it's what we did and are doing.
     
  8. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I do not know anyone who makes it straight with farm income. No one. I'm not talking about homesteaders either, but farmers who have been farming for generations.

    Of course, a lot depends on how you want to live too.

    Jena
     
  9. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    I know of some guys w/o families that do it. if they wind up broke or paralyzed w/o insurance it's only their problem. wouldn't be fair to do it to your family though.


    dripping springs, sorry to hear about your tragedy.
     
  10. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't know folks, but from 1975 on I raised my 4 as a single mom with no insurance. Kids were 15, 14, 13, and 8. We did just fine with no child support, no insurance of any kind on anyone, and a barely over minimum wage job. I know accidents happen, but I guess we were lucky not to have any. Rarely illness for anyone baring a few colds. It's really hard for me to understand this driving concern in our society now for health insurance and having to work a job one hates just for the coverage. Tha's an awful way to have to live, I think.
     
  11. sidepasser

    sidepasser Well-Known Member

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    Hi,

    As far as making a living off the farm, I could have done that with my horse boarding/breeding/training/lessons business. I was grossing $6,000 a month on average and after expenses, I ended up with close to $2,000, sometimes $2500. But i had to have insurance as being in the horse training business, you are gonna get hurt eventually and one broken bone can cost upwards of $10,000 nowadays and that is "if" you don't have to have pins, plates, etc. No such luck getting a General Practitioner to set bones these days, everyone sends you to a specialist of some sort. Scared of law suits and so specialists cost big money.

    I paid labor wages of $240 per week for a full time person, and paid her $350 a month apartment rent as well, but it gave me the opportunity to go to work from 8 to 2:30 and keep my insurance. And I am glad I did as I had the inevitable horse wreck and spent 6 weeks in the hospital and another 3 months learning to walk again. It doesn't take much of an accident to wipe you out financially if you have no insurance and if you think that a hospital is going to "forgive" the debt, think again. As long as you have something they can levy against, most will file suit and then take whatever you have to pay the debt. My bills were horrendous. So without insurance and disability insurance, I would have probably lost my farm. Farming is one of the highest risk occupations listed, outside of underwater oil drilling and perhaps being a soldier (I forget what was nu. 2 on the list). One PO'd bull can trample you into oblivion leaving your family with massive debt, one horse wreck can wipe you out, one tractor roll over can kill you.

    Not trying to be just gloom and doom, many farmers go all their lives with just minor injuries or illnesses, but then again, I've known many, who without insurance, won't go to a doctor, dentist, or emergency room even when they know they need to. My farrier was a prime example, he lost his farm when a horse broke his leg and ruptured his spleen, cost him everything he had as he had no insurance. I don't get sick much, have had a couple of bouts of pneumonia, and have had just minor injuries until a horse fell on top of me, so I count myself lucky in that respect. But having insurance is having piece of mind, especially where kids are concerned. Especially with a son who rides a dirt bike, plays football and is just being a boy. Can't wrap him up in gauze and tell him he can't do this or that cause he might get hurt and I can't pay the doctor bills.

    But when my place is paid for, I will be looking into insurance for self employed people and then I can quit the rat race and spend time doing what I do best, breeding and raising horses. I won't do that unless I have insurance though, it is not fair to my family to put them in that situation.

    It is very hard to make a living on a farm nowdays unless you find a niche and provide better service, quality or something that fills a need. With the growing organic movement, I would think that would be something that one could make a profit on. Around here, organic eggs sell for over $3.00 a dozen, and organic vegetables are in big demand. I am thinking of putting up a small greenhouse as I have the "typical urban population" within one mile of me that I could sell to. Wouldn't even have to leave the farm, just put up a small sign at the road and see what happens.

    I would diversify to bring in a lot of different types of income, if you plan to try to make your place pay. I did breeding, boarding stallions (was the only stable in the county that took stallions), training, sales for others and sales of my own babies, taught riding lessons, hauled horses to shows, and taught clinics. In the summer I had day camps for the the local day care centers who brought their young children out to pet the baby goats, kittens, see a real horse and ride the ponies. We served ice cream and cake and it was a real hoot! Most of those city kids had never seen a pig and I had a couple of weaner pigs that were tame and could be petted. Day care workers also had a blast, being able to let the kids "run wild" for a couple of hours. Brought in upwards of $300 per day, four days a week all summer long...

    Diversify and find some insurance...my best advice to you.

    Sidepasser
     
  12. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the advice. i agree that if you have any kind of assets, no insurance is not an option. i would get catastrophic insurance and pay for most everything out of pocket.

    you know those joel salatin/elliot coleman types make it sound so easy to make a living farming "alternatively"...but if it's so easy, why are they writing books about it?
     
  13. Non Sum

    Non Sum Active Member

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    There is an alternative not yet mentioned, regarding jobless-homesteading.

    First, though, I’d like to congratulate ‘Goatlady’ for saying it straight and well concerning both: farming and insurance. The first is too much of a gamble with backbreaking labor besides, the latter (all forms of insurance) is a fool’s gamble (betting against yourself).

    My solution was what I call ‘a money tree.’ The potential homesteader practices radical economizing (living way below their means whilst employed) to get up a stake. ‘Stake’ being enough to buy clear a few cheap acres + habitat, AND (most importantly!) enough to buy your absolute freedom from wage slavery; i.e. the ‘money tree.’

    Money, like fruit trees, loves to go to work and produce more of itself, but you must take good watchful care of your money tree, and never, never, get too greedy buy taking too much from it so that it can’t keep producing in the future.

    I’ve (wife and I) been living off our tree for 13+ years now, and have much more $ than when we started. Most of that time it has cost me c.400 per month to live comfortably. Now, around $550 since I have no need to be careful. $50,000 will give you $400 pm, work free, for the rest of your life, at 10% pa. Or, 100,000 will do it at 5%. In the ancient world slaves regularly bought their freedom.

    Today, slaves are not as wise; and have misplaced priorities. Begin saving, and investing, and before long your savings will bring in a better paycheck than you are. After a very short time (took me about 3 years) you will be able to stay home and let you money go to work for you forever after.
     
  14. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    i like your line of reasoning, but living off $400/month would be pretty damn hard for a family, and where does the money come in for insurance?

    i made some money off a house I owned and got some money when a relative keeled over so i have a little bit to play with, but certainly not enough to live off of.
     
  15. Non Sum

    Non Sum Active Member

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  16. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    i admire your rugged individualism, but i guess i'm just more risk averse than you. i'd live in constant fear that one little accident would wipe me out financially. that wouldn't be much fun :(
     
  17. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    You remember that, poorme.

    I am 49 years old and I have just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. And, I was always the physical one in the family. I am the homesteader of the family, as well.

    The GOOD news is, they can treat MS now, which means that I onlyhave a 25% chance of eventually winding up in a wheel chair.

    The BAD news is, the medicine costs $1,500 a month. Without insurance, I would be toast.

    To pay that would cost us everything. To NOT pay it, (judging by the rapid way the disease is progressing), would see me in a wheel chair within a year.

    I am glad that I am starting to get SLIGHTLY better. I have high hopes for next summer. But, without insurance, it would be a choice between my legs and my home, my land, and my dreams.
     
  18. Shygal

    Shygal Unreality star Supporter

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    And your great grandparents broke legs, had heart attacks, died at younger ages, had kids that died in childhood from lack of medical care, got hurt by animals, etc etc . The doctor to deliver my mom cost 100 dollars. To have MY daughter was 12000. You cant count on never being sick because of good food and exercise.


    Where do you get the money to save?

    And also MANDATORY for someone that is applying for a mortgage. How do you rebuild after a fire, whether its a yurt or a big building? How do you rebuild your barns after a fire or storm wipes them out? You are using them to make your living, you cant just let it go.

    Auto insurance is QUITE mandatory, and not for people that only live in the city and drive to work.

    You have some good thoughts here, but they are not realistic at all.
     
  19. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    I took a recent University course on raising commercial beef cattle and they did a study on what it took for a family to have an income of $30,000. per year just based on living on the farm and with no outside income interests.
    The result was, with beef cattle you would need at minimum 250 head, and that would only work financially if the property was paid for, all buildings and equipment was paid for, and you had enough property to grow enough feed for those cattle.(oh yeah, the cattle were all paid for too).
    I don't remember all the details, but even at that it was with some optomistic buying and selling expectations.
    And at first $30,000. sounds like a lot, but when you bring up two children, and pay all the expenses associated with handling that many animals all by yourself, there isn't much left.
    I'm not saying its impossible, because its not, but its pretty difficult at best, and the "fun" of farming will start to wear off after not having a holiday for years and always struggling.
    Its just better to have at least one partner work elsewhere if for no other reason than to pay for medical or dental, or school .........anybody price College or University lately for two kids ?
    Its gonna be a tough go.
     
  20. michelleIL

    michelleIL tryna be His

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    "How many out there do it w/o supplemental income?"



    Well, I plan to wait and do it when I get married.....doing it beforehand is a sin according to the Bible! LOL!!!!!
    And I don't think I'll be making any money, unless a marry a richie!