Generating an income that can sustain operations on the homestead is critical for many of us.
Newly established homesteads require a decent amount of income to add acreage, outbuildings and livestock, as well as purchasing many other items or services. Well-established homesteads also require a steady income to repair and replace, upgrade and add on to provide for needs or wants. Perhaps you are looking to replace an income from a 9-5 job; there are numerous ways to make that happen on every homestead.
Homesteaders, especially those who have the desire to be completely self-sufficient, are frequently researching new opportunities to generate a sustainable income on the homestead. We sell fruits and vegetables at farmer’s markets, livestock to local butchers, and milk and eggs to friends and neighbors.
Ready to try something new this year?
Fish farming, used for centuries in many parts of Asia, is also a good way to generate income on the homestead. Also called aquaculture, fish farming provides not only enough meat for those living on the homestead, but will eventually produce plenty to sell at local markets. It need not be expensive, either. The cost of setting up an aquaculture system can be relatively low for those who already have water sources on the homestead, such as a pond or stream.
Fish farming is similar to growing plants. Fish require steady temperatures, daily nourishment, and relatively clean water to flourish. Providing these essentials will result in large, firm fish that will make for easier sales in local markets. In my area, we have a couple of fish farms that regularly sell out of each week’s harvest during the farmer’s market season. They have found that aquaculture generates an income great enough to sustain the rest of their homestead every year.
There are several methods for small-scale fish farming, including:
- The cage method, which can be further modified to include a flow-through component.
- The greenhouse method, which includes raising hydroponic plants to filter and add nutrients to the water.
- The contained method, in which one pool or tank is used in conjunction with several filters and aerators to maintain water quality.
Which method you choose depends largely on what water sources are available around your homestead. The cage method, consisting of a system of cages submerged in ponds, is perhaps the least expensive method, as ponds have a natural filtration system in place. A slight variation on the cage method involves using a nearby stream with a system of cages, allowing water to flow freely through each cage and providing nutrients to the fish that are carried to them continuously by fresh water.
Starting a greenhouse operation is the most difficult, due to the many variables that need to be taken into consideration. In addition to the cost of the greenhouse materials and tanks for holding large volumes of water, you also may need to purchase or produce chillers or other cooling mechanisms in extremely hot weather to keep water temperatures in the range necessary for the fishes’ survival — a considerable financial investment.
A simple pool or even a livestock tank can be used to set up a contained system for aquaculture. Water filters and aerators will definitely be a necessity to ensure healthy fish. This type of system can be quite inexpensive.
Not all types of fish will flourish in your location. Choosing the right type of fish for your homestead’s environment may take a bit of trial and error, but a small amount of research will lessen the amount of losses due to the weather.
Have you ever “fish farmed”? Share your tips and advice in the section below: