Whether you’re an experienced homesteader or just starting out, you quickly learn: Bills don’t pay themselves, nothing is ever a sure thing, and there is constantly something to fix. Don’t forget about your taxes — the government certainly won’t.
If you want your homestead to generate cash, or even .a profit, hard work is not enough. You must find ways to make as many aspects of your homestead as possible generate revenue.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Fly-tying material.
If you raise poultry and livestock or hunt, chances are you toss a heap of fur and feathers into the trash every time you butcher animals. You could be collecting some money instead. Many of the feathers and furs from poultry and small animals can be re-purposed as fly-tying materials, which are easily sold to fisherman who tie their own flies. Fly-fishing is a popular sport, and these materials are always in demand.
Rooster tail and neck hackles, for example, are important components of dry flies. Ring neck pheasant tail feathers are used in a variety of fishing flies, as well; peacock feathers are often used to make streamer flies. A four-inch strip of rooster tail feathers can sell for anywhere from $4-$10, which is not a bad bit of pocket change from something you would otherwise just throw away. More uncommon feathers, such as those from ring neck pheasants, are even more valuable. Some animal furs, such as the belly fur of rabbits, and the tails from deer and squirrels, also can be sold as well.
2. Goose down.
If you have a flock of geese (and really, you should have one), you no doubt enjoy the giant eggs, the fine meat, and the crazy companionship these big birds provide. But when it comes to butchering, you probably just scald and pluck them and get rid of the feathers as fast and efficiently as you can. If you are, you are throwing away a valuable, easily saved commodity: goose down.
Down feathers, generally defined as those found on the lower carcass of the goose, are important to the textile industry. Down is used as fill for expensive pillows and to make high-end comforters for beds; that expensive jacket you bought at REI is probably filled with the stuff, too. People who make items like these, especially on a small scale, are always looking for a steady supply of quality down.
So instead of just throwing the down feathers away, process and store them. Gather the harvested down feathers, place them in a mesh fabric bag, wash them in cold water, and then hang the bag out to dry. Once the feathers are dry, store them in a cool, dry location until you have enough to sell. A quarter pound of feathers can fetch anywhere from $6-10 online.
3. The black gold standard
No matter how big your herd or flock is, you are probably amazed by how much manure they can produce. Whether it’s poultry, rabbits, goats or other animals, dealing with their manure is likely a part of your routine. But instead of just carting it over to the compost heap, you could be monetizing it instead.
Animal manure is often a high demand item, especially if your homestead is close enough to suburban areas. People want fresh manure to amend their soil, or to energize their compost bins. If your manure is organic, it might even sell for a premium, too.
You should let your manure, especially rabbit and chicken manures, compost for a bit. You can then bag it, load up the bed of your truck, and go sell it at the local farmers market. Better yet, post an ad on Craigslist, and let paying customers come and haul it away for you.
The Internet makes it easier than ever to connect your homestead with customers looking for unique odds and ends. So, try these three ideas when you get a chance, or better yet, think up some new ones on your own.
How do you make cash on the homestead? Share your ideas in the section below: