Want to start homesteading

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Newgirl, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. Newgirl

    Newgirl Guest

    My fiance and I both enjoy country life. I grew up on a farm and want desperatley to go back to that life style. However the "family farm" is dying out and I am aware of that. Does anyone have any ideas on how I can take a small farm and be able to "profit" from it (as in pay my bills)? I am willing to raise animals/plants or whatever but I don't want to be commercial. Any tips would be much appreciated.
     
  2. diane greene

    diane greene Well-Known Member

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    Welcom to Homesteading Today. I think a need a little more information from you. What do you mean by "commercial"? You need customers to have a business and you will have to attract them to your product(s). I do know some successful, small scale farms that specialize in high end products (grass feed beef or artisan cheeses), but they sell to restaurants, grocery stores as well as the general public. Is that what you mean by commerical? Do you already have land or will you need to buy? I might be able to give you a few leads with a little clarification.
     

  3. Newgirl

    Newgirl New Member

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    I meant commercial as in company owned land that you simply take care of. I want to sell straight to customers and not go through large companies. I dont own any land and it will be about 3-4 yrs before I can seriously say I will be able to buy land but I want to start early.
     
  4. diane greene

    diane greene Well-Known Member

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    All the small farms I know sell direct with no middle man. Although co-ops can be a good way to go. You do need a specialty product that is not readily available from the ArgraBiz farms. I suggest you look into getting certified for organic, it takes awhile and costs money. I don't know what the market will look like in 5 years or so, but the organic meat and dairy market is good now. It is VERY expensive to start a farm operation from scratch, so you might want to see if you can locate an existing farm business in which the owners are planning to retire in the next few years. It might be possible to work there and eventually purchase it from the owners (I know a couple of success stories from this method). In NY there are gov't and private organizations that look for new young farmers to take over older farms and there might be a similar program in TN. Check with your local Ag extension for resources. If there is an organic farming organization (in NY its www.nofa.org ) - join it and check their classifieds. I will take a look into my files and see if I have any other information for you.
     
  5. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forum Newgirl!! Looks like you have plenty of time for research........that's good. We have tryed quite a few different projects and have found for us that diversity helps. We have also found that one of us needs to "work out" so we have health insurance. Without needing that, we made enough selling veggies, fruits, dairy products, eggs, honey, maple syup, and occasional fatted steers, hogs and goats. I also sold registered goats for breeding stock. We were quite comfortable and able to pay taxes etc. but never made enough to buy health insurance or save anything to speak of.

    Once you have an idea of where you are going to settle, you can spend some time researching and finding a few "nitchs". I sold veggies to a rather fancy restaurant for awhile and they paid good for fancy lettuces and baby veggies. If you have a farmer's market you can sell all sorts of stuff there. Flowers did quite well for me.

    Hang around the forums and read in the archives. Also Ken has an e-book on home business ideas. It can be done...........but almost always you either live without insurance, or someone has to work out a bit.
     
  6. nodak3

    nodak3 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You might want to read Wendall Berry's books on farming. He is also a poet, and his poetry books won't help you much.
     
  7. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Check the older threads: there have been a LOT of threads on how to make money off of the land.

    I am trying to work up blackberries and honey. That will not give me an adequate income but I am hoping for $5000 or so, which will help. I will then turn my attention to another money-making project to add to the berries and honey.

    A hive will produce 60 odd pounds of harvestable honey in my area per year, and a bee hive takes up very little space so it is a good choice for my 5 acres.
     
  8. travlnusa

    travlnusa Well-Known Member

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    When you say profit, what do you mean? I ask that because if you hope to move to farm on Monday and be self supportive on Friday, that would be hard to pull off.

    If you are looking to grow into it, there are all kinds of ways. I would recommend that you spend the first year doing lots of different things, just for yourself, and when you find those things you like the most, focus on those.

    We raised hogs and sold them to consumers, but we just dont like hogs all that much. We raised beef from calf to butcher, but did not like bigger animals. However we loved raising calves.

    So we now raise calves from 2 days old to 500lb range. We found what we like to do. First year we make just a touch of money, and this year is our first projection to hit 5 figures.

    Lots of good advise on insurance given so far.
     
  9. JanaKaye

    JanaKaye Active Member

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    The market for healthy foods is growing, and no doubt will continue to grow. With farm factories being the norm, people will go out of their way now to find things like: pastured / grass-fed (as opposed to grain-fed) beef, pork, chicken; free-range eggs... especially raw milk/cream/butter, however, I understand that selling raw milk is illegal in some states (some get by this by "selling" part ownership in the cow so customers are essentially picking up milk from their own cow.) These are definitely growing markets as more and more people come to realize the harmful and detrimental effects caused by raising animals in the factory-farm setting. Plenty of people (with money!) are seeking out sources in the local market in order to avoid buying these products through the big companies.

    (For more information about the health benefits of grassfed meat, eggs, etc., go to www.Mercola.com to see articles written by Dr. Mercola.)
     
  10. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What a wonderful dream. If I was physically able to, I'd do the same thing. We have a house and small pond on six acres, but with the right crops, I know it would work. If you decide to sell garden type vegetables, look into lasagne gardening and square foot gardening. If you treat your land like a garden instead of acreage, you can get a lot more out of each square foot. What do you like to grow? how close are you to restaurants, to farmer's markets, to flower shops?
     
  11. hengal

    hengal Well-Known Member

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    Newgirl -

    I would suggest getting the book "You Can Farm" by Joel Salatin. Its a large, excellent book on many different ways to make a living on your farm. It is so very informative - lots of ideas that are very feasible for many people. Very well put together, no nonsense approach. I paid $35 at Barnes and Noble, but you may be able to get it at the library. This was a book recommended by a reader in Hobby Farms Magazine - which would also be good for you to get.
    Good luck!!
     
  12. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    Welcome newgirl! I agree with Diane that diversity is the key to success on a small family run farm. that way if one source of income dries up you will still be able to pay the mortgage!
     
  13. okgoatgal2

    okgoatgal2 Well-Known Member

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    research, time, and moving slowly so you don't get overwhelmed. start with a small garden this year, then enlarge it slowly, one thing at a time. start with a couple of hens, then get a couple more after you learn to take care of them. this way you don't get swamped and burned out before you make a success out of it.
     
  14. D

    D Well-Known Member

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    "Does anyone have any ideas on how I can take a small farm and be able to "profit" from it (as in pay my bills)?"

    There are two parts to your question. We've been mostly focusing on ways to make a farm profitable. The other part is figuring out for yourself what you mean by "pay my bills"... Break even? Pay off student loans? Pay off mortgage? Buy new tractors? Pay off credit card debt? Buy groceries? Raise ten kids & send 'em to college? Read the how-to books, but read some tightwad books too. If you really want this type of lifestyle, being frugal (and liking it) can make all the difference in the world in how you percieve your situation. I would also suggest some hands-on experience at someone else's place, kind of like student-teaching or apprentice-ship. Get your feet wet without racking up the bills. Then go for it!
     
  15. Jolly

    Jolly Well-Known Member

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    A few opinions:

    1. Catastrophic health expenses cause the majority of bankruptcies. Unless you are willing to roll the dice, it always helps if someone in the family has access to a group healthcare policy.

    2. I have a very good friend that works with Farm Bureau, doing mostly consulting, and lobbying. Right now, he knows several folks that are actually making money in the row-crop business, planting mostly no-till, Round-up Ready crops. The kicker, though, is that they tend to own the small patches (80-200 acres) they work, they use used equipment, and they are at the mercy of custom cutting operations because they don't have the capital to waste on buying a combine.

    3. Truck framing can make money, especially the organic variety, if you can find a niche in the market. The work is hard, and labor can sometimes be a problem.

    I recently had a friend of mine who had to quit farming 40 acres (strawberries, sweet corn, field peas, butterbeans, okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash), because nobody would work for him. Why sweat in the sun, when you can make the same money flipping burgers?

    So whatever you do, dodn't count on being able to hire labor when you need it.
     
  16. BamaSuzy

    BamaSuzy Well-Known Member

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    We sell eggs from our laying hens and will be selling goat milk soap, some jellies, and rabbit-compost this spring....but we are a long long way from being totally self-sufficient here on our homestead.

    Husband is a licensed electrician and operates a handyman business from here and I am a newspaper editor/reporter with a home office....

    Read read read. Get as many back issues of COUNTRYSIDE as you can and buy the Backwoods Home anthologies, all of the print copies.