The idea of going back to the old days of homesteading has been gaining ground, especially among those of us who have decided not to depend upon the nanny state to take care of us.
Converting a home to a homestead can be both labor intensive and expensive, however. It would be nice to have some ways of making a little extra cash off the homestead, in order to help finance the operation. Here are a few ideas:
1. Selling Excess Produce
If you’re growing enough produce to live off or even enough to augment your food purchases, chances are that you are growing too much to eat. After you do your canning and fill your root cellar, you might still find that you have some food left over. That is when it’s time to start selling the excess.
Your sales techniques can vary from putting a small stall out in front of your house, to selling some food to your co-workers, to setting up a booth at the farmer’s market. Just make sure that you check the sales restrictions in your community. You don’t want to end up with a hefty fine, just because you forgot to get a permit.
2. Don’t Forget the Herbs
If there’s one thing that we always seem to have in excess from our garden, it’s herbs. Take a trip to the grocery store sometime and just stare at the spices for a little while. They are amazingly expensive. Well, if those companies can make money, why can’t you? You can either dry your herbs and package them or sell them fresh. Some people prefer fresh herbs, and many grocery stores don’t sell them.
You also can mix up your own spice blends. Many people prefer buying blends, such as Italian seasoning and steak rubs. If you can come up with something unique, you might be able to develop a local demand for it.
3. Making Canned Specialties for Sale
Much of that extra produce can be canned, as you’re probably already doing for your own family. Why not do a little gourmet canning for sale? Specialty pickles, pickled melon and your grandma’s spaghetti sauce may fetch a premium price — enough to make it worth your while.
These items can be used as gifts as well, so in addition to harvest time, you can go for the Christmas shopping season. There are always people looking for an unusual gift for that certain relative.
4. Selling Eggs
Fresh eggs from your own chickens are great, but it’s hard to control their production. It seems like the only way you can be sure of having enough is to make sure that you have too many. You can sell some of those extras to help pay for the feed. You probably won’t have to go very far to sell your eggs. Your neighbors will most likely be interested (unless, of course, they have their own chickens).
5. Selling Fresh Poultry
Fresh chicken demands a higher price than frozen chicken, and most supermarkets more or less ignore that. You don’t have to limit yourself to just chicken. If you’re raising birds, why not consider ducks and quail as well? They sell for a higher price and aren’t much harder to raise. The only problem is that you need to build a roof over their pen, since both ducks and quail fly better than chickens do.
6. Make Your Own Sausage
If you’re raising pigs or beef, you may have a bit of a problem with what to do with all the meat come slaughtering time. One steer or one good-sized hog can fill up a large chest freezer once it’s butchered and packaged. Try making some sausage out of the leftovers. You can make sausage out of chicken, lamb or goat as well.
Some summer sausage or salami that you’ve made and smoked yourself would sell for a good price. This is the type of product that can earn you repeat customers.
7. Host Children’s Parties
Parents are always looking for something unique to do for their children’s birthdays. I remember taking our kids to a Victorian birthday party at a homestead. That family had found a way to take advantage of their beautiful old home.
If you have many animals, you already have a great start for a children’s party. Kids and animals always make for a fun combination. You can also use events associated with your homestead as a theme for the party, such as squashing grapes when it’s time to harvest the grapes or fishing if you have a pond. What kid doesn’t want to feel the squish of grapes between their toes?
8. Making Soap to Sell
We have some friends who sell about 30 varieties of homemade soaps, as well as lotions, lip balm, shampoo and other homemade personal products at the farmer’s market. This niche market is nicely augmenting my friends’ retirement income, and they already have many of the specialty ingredients for the soaps on their homestead.
9. Boarding Animals for Others
If you already have animals on your property and you have the room, why not offer animal boarding services? There are always people looking for somewhere to board horses, but that’s not the only animal to consider. Talk to your non-homesteading friends about buying goats, cattle and sheep, which will be boarded on your property. When butchering time comes around, your friends get the meat, but in the meantime, you have been paid to care for their livestock.
As you can see, the homestead is the basis for cottage industry. In the early days of our country, many people who started businesses, started with their homestead. They might build a small building out by the street for a workshop or store or just let it be known in town that they offered a particular product or service. As word got around, they built a business.
This same system still works. If you’re going to go through the trouble of learning how to make or grow certain products, you may as well make some money off them.
What would you add to the list? Share your suggestions in the section below: