Homesteaders want to stay on their farm, and they can accomplish that by finding ways to make money on their homestead. From selling eggs to offering services, here are 10 ways to make money on your homestead.
Taking a vacation when you homestead—it’s almost taboo to say that, isn’t it? You feel a little dirty for saying “vacation” when you’re a homesteader. It might stem from the fact that you just have so much to do that you can’t stand the thought of leaving. Or it could stem from the stigma that people always say “you can’t homestead and take a vacation”. Lies, total lies.
Recently we took the first vacation we’ve taken in over five years, and it was glorious. We stayed in a friend’s beach house on Hatteras Island. We enjoyed time with friends and family, ate well, and laughed even more. It was the best vacation we’ve ever taken. Period. But how did we take a vacation and still run the homestead? Let me show you exactly that.
Before you leave on vacation, here are some systems you need to have in place on the homestead before you hand it over to someone else to take care of.
Not only is hiring a trusted caretaker essential, but making sure your property is secure and stocked up is key. This will help ease the process along for your caretaker while they are there.
We had an amazing time on vacation, and it’s so important to make that time to get away with your family. Check out this week’s video to learn more about how we were able to take a successful vacation, where we went, what we did, how it affected us, and for updates about what’s happening around the homestead!
We don’t like to think about emergencies on the homestead, but they can arise at any moment. Last year we had a slight health scare, and it caused me to think about emergencies a lot more seriously than I had before. You see, emergencies on your homestead can be anything from a natural disaster, to a health crisis that puts a homesteader out of commission. A dual income family that drops down to a single income family (or worse, a no income family), can be just as detrimental as a natural disaster or government fallout.
Either way, there are some preventatives and systems you can put into place, and products that you can have on hand, in order to make your emergency go a little bit more smoothly—no matter what the emergency is.
You’ll have a greater peace of mind if you start putting systems in place on your homestead in case of an emergency. Remember, not only does your family depend on you, but so does your livestock. Here are a few extremely important systems to have in place. Make sure this information is readily available for your family members on the homestead at all times.
While this may seem a little awkward to talk about for some, it is essential to most homesteaders. This is a conversation that you need to have. When you have livestock and a family that depends on you, an escape route from a natural disaster or even a home intruder could be a matter of life or death.
These are all questions that can be tough to think about, but they need to be answered in case an emergency arises, especially if you have a family or young children. Less casualties happen in natural disasters and warfare when people are prepared in advance.
Make an emergency contact list with home phone numbers, cell phone numbers, physical addresses, and email addresses for your family members in the home, outside of the home, and for people you’ll need to get in contact with in case of an emergency. Make sure you list people that can come and help you on the property if and when necessary.
This is an extremely important contact to have on hand. Should you have an intruder situation, or should something happen to you as a parent, your children or loved ones may need help quickly. The average ambulance can take 15 to 30 minutes to arrive on scene, depending on where you live. Make sure you have at least one or two contacts that live within walking distance of you that are trusted sources in case your child needs to run for help quickly after contacting 911.
We always think about how to get off of the homestead, but what about if we have to stay on the homestead? What happens if our livestock run out of feed or water? If you make your own chicken feed, do you have enough ingredients on hand to last you through? It’s best to put a feed and water system in place for your livestock now, rather than try to figure it out later. This can look like adding a manual well pump to the property should the electric be out. Or by having a clean stream or pond that the animals can drink from.
It’s also best to have back-up feed at all times. We feed our smaller livestock raw feed as much as possible (scraps, leftovers, pasture ranging, fodder) so that they can get used to eating raw feed should we ever suddenly not have access to their pelleted feed.
It’s easy to save when you have money, right? But whether you bring in a substantial amount of money, or a small amount of money, it’s important to put aside cash or extra savings in a separate bank account or home safe every month. You may even want to have a separate bank account at a separate bank than your regular account. In early 2018, our nationally known bank lost access to their online banking system for over 48 hours. People couldn’t use their debit cards or get into their bank accounts, and your bank account total was left up to people you didn’t even know. What happens if you can’t get to your bank account but need to pay bills or need food?
One of the most important things to understand is how much money you would need on a monthly basis should you suddenly find that your spouse cannot work, or you become a zero income family. Knowing how much you need to bring in, and then setting up a diversified income that can help bring at least half of that in each month will help put your mind at ease. Your savings account will make up for the rest.
Now days people tend to put all of their eggs in one basket, even though we’ve been told not to for centuries. Homesteaders tend to rely on once source of income in the modern age, and that normally comes down to YouTube or another online revenue stream. What people don’t realize is that, at any time, if YouTube or the online service doesn’t like what you’re putting out into the world, they can take it away from you and close up shop. It’s best to diversify your income.
Whatever it may be, make sure you have plenty of baskets, and eggs in each one!
Growing your own food is liberating. Preserving your own food is even more liberating. Having a seasonal garden system on hand and learning how to preserve your own food in case that’s all you have one day is an essential key to survival. Learn those skills now. Put those systems in place now so that if one day, gardening is all you have, then you know exactly how to do it!
While having systems in place is extremely important, they can take awhile to put into action. Until then, you’ll need some vital products in place before an emergency happens. Here is a list that you should consider on your homestead.
While we all hope that we will never find ourselves in a situation where we have to leave our homesteads abruptly, anything can happen. We have many of these systems and products already in place or on hand. We expand and decrease where we see necessary as our lives and homestead change. If nothing more, make sure you have an emergency escape route and phone numbers in place and on hand at all times. Make sure the members of your household know what to do when a emergency arises on the homestead. And more than anything, make sure you are able to reconnect with loved ones, or have enough income on hand should you lose an additional income.
Putting these systems and products in place—whether you have to stay on the property, or leave the property—really take that stress off of you when wondering “what if”. And if I know one thing that’s for sure, it’s that if any stress can be relieved easily and before a situation arises, it’s well worth the investment.
When we bought our home, it was a foreclosure and a major fixer upper. We had no intention of creating a small little farmhouse out of our home, but here we are, killin’ it. There are chickens in the backyard, a kitchen garden in the front, and a few meat rabbits scattered about the property.
I’ve tried so many types of gardens on this property, and each one presented its challenges. Because we live on a steep hillside, gardening has been a challenge in and of itself for the entire time we’ve lived here. But in 2017 we created our very first official “Farmhouse Kitchen Garden”. . . and I fell in love. I fell in love with the way we laid it out. I fell in love with the mulch that kept down the weeds. I fell in love with the cattle panel arches that we created to grow vertically and save space.
From that, I was able to can multiple batches of spaghetti sauce, harvest multiple gallons of beans, pickle and can over 20 pints of pickles, feed on lettuce and other veggies through October, and make herbal products throughout the entire season.
This year, we’re expanding. In fact, we’re doubling our garden space from last year. Last year was our test run, this year, the gloves come off.
In order to expand the garden, we had to have 4 loads of fill dirt delivered so that we could fill in some holes in our backyard. We seeded the back yard (our “mini pasture) will pasture grass, so that we can create a deep root system to help hold in the hillside and offer a multitude of delicious forage for the chooks. After the fill dirt was laid out, we finally had space in the front to expand the garden (where the fill dirt had been).
Talk about an expansion!
I had one of the most interesting years of my life in 2017. The year was full of every kind of craziness—success, excitement, frustration, fear, anxiety, joy, grief, and love. It was a whirlwind of emotions all wrapped tightly into a package, then dropped into my lap at the end of the year so that I can finally unwrap it and, in return, wrap my head around it all.
Throughout history, villages, towns, tribes, and families depended on one another to make it through life. Just take a look at our ancestors from the Great Depression. The ones who survived? They made it through because it literally took a village.
While their lives weren’t necessarily at the mercy of another person’s grip (that’s a fabulous visual of self-sufficiency), they did have to barter, trade, and work with one another in order to share harvests and to have certain things that they needed or couldn’t grow on their own land.
Just as society is now, they all had different gifts and talents to offer, different things that grew better on their land, while also having some knowledge of the same skill sets that they were born with (knowing how to wild forage, for example). Some people had more land than others, therefore growing more to sell and trade with their community. While others were dealt cards in life that left them in difficult situations, causing them to have to live within the community or city completely—working for their living, with little space to garden or raise animals.
|Locals gather on the porch of the post office in the small town of Nethers in Madison County, VA 1935. || Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress LC-DIG-fsa-8b26683|
Life isn’t much different now.
I could live on 10 acres of land, but I may not have the time to grow enough wheat for my family each year. The beauty of that is that I can go to the store to buy wheat, or, I can depend on a fellow homesteader or farmer who does have the time and space to grow enough wheat, and then some. Or, maybe my neighbor grows a garden and wild forages, she preserves her food and she’s good for the winter. But maybe she doesn’t have the ability to harvest meat or eggs from her homestead. Well then, come right on over, I’ve got you covered! We can barter with eggs and meat for sacks of flour or wheat.
It doesn’t mean I’m mooching off of someone or being lazy—it means that I’m leaning on my community, and guess what, my community leans on me too. That’s the beauty of it all.
|The Dodson family at home in the small community of Old Rag in Page County VA before they were relocated, 1935 || Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress LC-USF34-T01-000541|
Homesteading and self-sufficiency were never terms that were used to isolate. If you isolate yourself completely, you may not survive. You may survive for an amount of time, but what about when you get sick or need a doctor? Or at least someone that can help you recuperate. What happens when a drought hits and you can’t grow anything? What happens when you’re in the dead of winter and you run out of lard or butter? What happens when your milk cow or goat dries up and your baby is crying and you need that milk? I highly doubt most people would throw their hands up and say, “well, I’ll just deal with it.” No, indeed. They would lean on their fellow man for help, as long as they aren’t too prideful.
You could rely on a food stashed pantry or the likes thereof, but even then, you still need something from someone, even if it’s just community. And eventually, that pantry runs dry.
Certainly, there are exceptions. There are those people who go missing and live in the wild for decades on their own. There are mountain men who you never see. But is that really realistic for millions of people who want to start homesteading? Probably not.
|Young farm boys cradling wheat on a farm near Sperryville in Rappahannock County, VA 1936. || Dorothea Lange / Library of Congress LC-USF34-009368|
The moral of the story is, homesteading does, indeed, take a village. It takes hands that are willing to work, not just to survive on their own, but for others as well. Whether that looks like going to the store, patronizing your local farmer or homesteader, raising more than you need to help others, lending a helping hand during harvest, bartering for goods and services, or living in a community of like minded individuals.
When you begin your journey into homesteading, or to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle, going into this realizing that it’s ok to buy goods from the farmer’s market or your local farmer is completely liberating. Knowing that you can’t grow everything on your homestead, unless you take up being a vegetarian and veganism, or you change your diet to consume things seasonally (which is possible), is liberating. Maybe you’ll have to buy flour, wheat, oil, medical supplies, paper products, rags, clothing, gasoline. It could be any number of things. Big or small. But at some point, you’re going to have to have to step off your property and barter or buy something from someone. Or maybe you’ll be the one offering help.
That’s why we were put here, after all. To help, to grow, to learn.
The number one reason people stop homesteading is because they’ve been given a false reality that they have to do it all. But in a westernized culture, getting back to our roots overnight isn’t a possible task. It takes years, decades, centuries. We’ve lost entire generations that knew how to do this, and yet they still took the time to dress up and go into town to chew the fat with their neighbors and towns people on the front porch of an Old Country Store, or to buy a sack of wheat. Boys who’d run through fields without shoes on, yes, without shoes on—they are rare to find now days. We’ve lost children who are respectful and who know the meaning of hard work before they are 5. We’ve lost men who want to work hard, get their hands dirty, and provide for their families. They’ve forgotten how to hunt and fish. And we’ve lost women who know that being in the kitchen and the garden or field isn’t oppressive, but necessary, and rewarding, and full of satisfaction.
In order to get back to our roots, we’re all learning together. We’re learning from each other, from our ancestors, from history books—and we all bring something to the table in talent, skill, and growth.
Don’t lose out on that. Don’t isolate yourself because that’s what you think you’re “supposed” to do. Because I assure you, you’ll miss out on so much goodness and education from your community. And one day, you just may have to call on them when you’re in need.
More than anything, however, is that we’re leaving behind a legacy for future generations. Let’s not teach them that they have to isolate themselves in order to do it the “right” way.
Seeing as I’m a professional photographer, this isn’t an issue for me. Though sometimes, it can be frustrating to have to break out the “real” camera. Even so, I still need inexpensive ways to make my photos look great.
As a homesteader, we try to be self-sufficient and recycle whatever we can. The same goes for our blogs and photos. No one wants to see a photo of your freshly made perfect pie on a dark dirty oven top caked in flour remnants and last nights dinner. I mean, I do, because that’s real life, but if you want to get any actual “hits” on the post, you better clean up and tighten up that lighting! As a homesteader, who the heck has time to do that? You just want to throw down a backdrop over top of it all or in front of a window, and let the world think your house is in order when it’s really dirty as all get out.
“I think people that don’t grow up in this environment are the ones that think about the hardships and the work…where those who have been around it our whole lives just view it as our normal life with no defining title attached.”
There is so much truth in that little sentence. I would even take it a step farther and say that we do understand the hard work, most certainly, but we simply don’t glorify it. Actually, I understand the hard work, and I didn’t even really do it as a child. I watched, I participated when I was needed in the Summer months, or that time when my Uncle taught me how to drive a tractor when he collected hay bales before a Summer storm. I knew the value of this lifestyle long before doing it myself, because I had the greatest mentors of all time—at least, my lifetime.
|my grandfather cutting one of his fields|
It’s life. It’s normal. It’s everyday living for so many people who don’t even have a self-appointed title for themselves. Don’t be entangled in the mindset of what the definition of a “homesteader” or “off grider” or “prepper” or “southerner” or “crunchy” person may be to others. It doesn’t matter. Really. If no one has said this to you, let it be me who says it straight to your heart. It doesn’t matter what other people think of you. It doesn’t matter what other people think of what you do. It doesn’t matter whether they think you do too much on your “homestead”, or too little. Are they with you everyday of your life? No? Then it doesn’t matter. That’s not how this works…that’s not how any of this works.
I don’t walk into my local farm store and said “oh hey, yeah, I’m a homesteader.” Um, duh. That’s probably why you’re at the farm store. Do you know how ridiculous they’d look at me? I don’t care about the title. To be honest, I’m not a homesteader first and foremost. I’m a wife, a mom, a homemaker…who just so happens to wrangle chickens, too.
So if the “title” throws you off…remove it from the header. Just get to know me—our lives, our loves, our passions, our simplicity. If the “homestead” part causes you so much strife because it doesn’t fit into your box of a definition that’s contrary to American literature, then please, just act like it’s not there. It doesn’t define me as a person, I promise.
The moment we begin comparing our lives to other people’s lives is the very moment we have failed. That is what is wrong with this country. If you have the mindset that you’re “better” than someone or doing things “better” than someone, then YOU are the issue with America. That’s how racism began. That’s how police officers shoot people that don’t deserve to be shot. That’s how police officers get shot when they haven’t done anything wrong while they serve and protect.
And if you see a homesteader doing that, whether comparing their lives because they want to be better, or comparing their lives because they think they’re the best…..stop them dead in their tracks. I dare them to say the things they say online to your face or mine. Because nine times out of ten, they won’t.
Stop it. Stop doing that. You’ve lost sight of what homesteading is. Homesteading isn’t “who has it altogether this way or that way.” Homesteading is a way of life. It is constant. It is not a race to the finish line.
If you are homesteading simply because you want to be prepared for the end of the world, that’s awesome. But that’s not what homesteading originally was. Yes, you heard me. And you know it’s true. You’re considered a “prepper”, not a homesteader.
If you’re homesteading just to make a quick buck, that’s not going to happen either.
Listen, I love my house. I love my animals. But I love my family more. YES, I’d fight for my home, land, animals, and family. But would I fight to death for my house and animals? Probably not. I always chuckle when someone says “if the government comes to take my guns, I’m going to shoot”. Yeah, sorry, it’s not worth it to me. My husband and I have seriously sat down and had this conversation before, just to be prepared for when that time comes. Certainly, I’d try to outwit them. But I’m not going to go to jail and leave my child without a parent. That’s just STUPID.
This is why I cannot stress to you more, to be prepared in ALL situations. If you are completely relying on your own personal property to pull you through a hard time, you may be highly disappointed when it fails, gets taken away from you, or animals start dying off because you don’t know how to make your own feed/hay. This is why I stress learning how to hunt, trap, live off of the land that surrounds you, not just the land that you own. Wild edibles. Birds. Squirrels. Deer. The bounty is in abundance in so many areas. Settlers survived, we should know how to survive as well. And believe it or not, that doesn’t involve having resources at your finger tips. That involves having knowledge.
For example, if you are breeding rabbits for meat, being truly self-sufficient means you aren’t going out and buying new rabbits for meat consumption. And besides, ew. I want to know where my meat comes from, not just buy it off craigslist.
It means you sit down, have a plan, get your rabbit herd together, and then start breeding your own meat. Sure, breeders die. But that doesn’t mean you have to go get a new one. This means you plan ahead and hold back certain babies from litters so that you can better your lineage and be sustainable. This can easily be done by starting with pedigreed rabbits that come from several different lineages. Knowing the animal and where it came from is half the battle.
We have become much too reliant on EOs, and throw our money at large companies praising them for the “best EOs in the entire world”. But if you don’t know what else is out there, how can you make that assumption? If you, yourself, don’t even know how an EO is made, you cannot falsely claim these statements.
Working and living without debt
This is a big one for a lot of people. Becoming self-sufficient should mean you don’t have to rely on bank loans and debt to live your life. Therefore, you work towards paying off all debt. Being truly self-sufficient means you have zero debt, or at least in a perfect world. However, most of us have mortgages to pay. With that said, people are doing it. People are building their own homes over a year or two time period, just so they don’t have a “mortgage” to pay every month. I don’t think we will ever be there. Our goal is to purchase a larger piece of land, and my husband will build our home, but I think we will always have that mortgage debt for at least a few years.
The other side of this is learning how to work. There are a lot of people who will still continue the daily grind of an office job, etc. Yes, that’s an honest living. But will you have time for that once you are truly self-sufficient? This is where your working skills comes into play. Having a skill that you can offer to others is essential. Can you build things? Can you help others in some way? Or maybe you’ve become so self sufficient that you can buy, sell, and trade straight from your homestead?
Either way, work and living without debt is a major part of being truly self-sufficient.
Off-Grid vs. Modern Homesteading
Do you have to live off-grid to be completely self sufficient? That’s a good question. And honestly, out of this entire blog, I’m not quite sure how to answer that. I would like to think that you can have a modern homestead and still be completely self-sufficient, but that’s just not true. Again, completely self-sufficient is the key word here.
You are still dependent upon an electric company to give you electricity. You are still paying that bill every month. Original “off-griders” don’t have cell phones, don’t have electric, they don’t depend on anyone other than themselves for those things. But we don’t live in the renaissance here, people. We live in a modernized society, where sometimes, it’s better to have a cell phone than not.
So, do you have to live off grid to be completely self-sufficient? I’d say yes.
Do you have to live off grid to be completely self-sufficient in today’s modernized society? Absolutely not.
Going off-grid is a great option, but I don’t foresee it as an option for us. Unfortunately, we are just too modernized. I do have a job that requires me to have wi-fi, for the moment. We do have lives that require us to have cell phones. And honestly, we enjoy our electricity. And I don’t foresee us having the money to pay for solar panels anytime soon.
I’m not going to lie, I don’t foresee us ever being completely self-sufficient, but I see us getting almost there, or in today’s modernized definition of it, in the near future (once we have more space).
This is something I think about often, and something I’m asked often. And I hope that it helps someone out there, somehow!
We have to remember that, while we’re trying to get back to our roots, our roots have grown a lot in the past century. We are not the same world we were then, and therefore, homesteading and true self-sufficiency can look a lot different now than it did back then.
Ultimately, you have to decide what’s right for your own life and family. And true self-sufficiency might look a lot different to you than to others. But, by definition standards, this is what it would mean.
Let’s be honest here, homesteading isn’t free. If you’re uneducated when it comes to history, our ancestors had land they had to buy and pay for. Equipment they had to pay for. Working animals they had to pay for, feed, and take care of. There’s a reason the bank came knocking on their door sometimes to collect money or debts. Of even worse, take their property and rights away.
Even on this small half acre that we own, homesteading hasn’t been cheap. We have to find ways to cut the grocery bill. We have to find ways to live frugally. We have to sell eggs to help offset feed costs. The list goes on….
But we aren’t poor. I never want you to think we are “poor” or need help. In fact, we are fairly well off compared to the rest of the world. But we’ve worked to get to where we are, and we both have supplemental incomes.
Homesteading is hard work. Homesteading requires you to wake up at times you don’t want to. Homesteading teaches you to be tough, because if you aren’t, it will eat you alive. Homesteading means you go outside in the pouring rain or the iciest of snows to tend to animals, to get up wood, to run generators just so things can function. But more than all that, this journey is one to be loved, cherished, and respected. As long as you understand the reality of financial income.
Never EVER put your family in a stressful financial situation just to homestead. You can do this journey the right way, I promise! Homesteading doesn’t happen overnight. It is gradual!
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, there are some things you need to know about how I run my small homestead. My homestead might be small, but it’s a working homestead.
I run this show. In case you hadn’t noticed. And I’m proud of it. I’m a pretty tough girl. I’m doing this because I want to do this, come hell or high water. These animals will be taken care of properly, and so will my family. Why? Because I decided this was my responsibility. And I own what I take on.
But even still, I can be quiet, gentle, and a loving wife when I need to be. There’s beauty in balance.
Yes, my husband helps with big things. He helps me make major decisions, and sometimes he flat out says “no”. He is the master mind behind every single building (except the original ones when we bought our house), hutch and structure on this small property. I could do this without him, but it would be a heck of a lot harder and more expensive. And honestly, I don’t want to do it without him. He is my rock, my logic, my sounding board. You can read more about his involvement in our homestead here.
I feed the chickens. I haul feed bags. I muck hutches and coops. I process our meat. I garden and harvest and can. I tend to every single animal on this property and I haven’t complained once. Why? Because I truly love what I do.
Enough rambling though…
The cost of a homesteader is not often spoken of. So, many people think that homesteading, the ultimate homestead, brings in enough resources that you’ll never have to pay for anything. We also like to throw around the term “true homesteader” now days apparently. And I promise you that money does not dictate whether you are a “true” homesteader or not. Homesteading it a journey, and one that should be enjoyed. Don’t ever let anyone say you’re not a “true homesteader” based on where you are in your journey.
But the reality is, whether you work for yourself, work from your homestead (workshops, classes, products), or something different, you’ll always need some kind of income.
** DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind that my journey looks a little different than yours. We got chickens and rabbits with the understanding of breeding them to sell. You can certainly get away with a lesser quality animal if you’re just using them for your own consumption.
So, before you consider quitting your job and homesteading, here are some things to consider:
1. Homesteading isn’t free — $600+ a year
You’re going to have to buy land at some point. Sure, you can rent it or barter for rent, but eventually, you’re going to want your own piece of land to work on. Equipment costs money. Building good solid structures costs money. Power tools cost money (if you use them). And also, you have taxes to pay. Ugh, I hate taxes. Guess what, Uncle Sam could care less about your homestead and how well you’re doing without money. He still wants his money! Happy happy joy joy.
2. Food isn’t free — at least $100 a month
It is wonderful to be able to grow your own food, but if you’re like me, I can’t grow everything I need. I can’t grow wheat for flour. I’m lucky if I can grow enough tomatoes to eat. I would literally kill myself trying to grow it all. Therefore, I have to buy flour, sugar, corn starch, baking soda, salt—things that just aren’t physically possible for me to grow frugally here.
Food is a really big issue for me. If you are a homesteader, and you’re growing food, utilize it. If you are buying in bulk, you are still spending a large amount of money on buying in bulk. Good quality bulk items (organic and non-gmo) are not inexpensive. But they are worth it. While it’s not inexpensive, discounts matter!
There are a lot of great videos online about stretching your food and your food budget!
3. Utility Bills— $100+ a month
If you are not “off-grid” then you have utility bills. Even the best “off-griders” will tell you they have yearly and monthly expenses. Electricity, heat (if you don’t heat by wood), A/C, phone, cell phone, internet, tv, movies….the list goes on.
4. Upkeep of your homestead— $500+ a year
Your homestead is going to have to be kept up with yearly. Some of my 3 year old rabbit hutches need new wire and wood. And that stuff isn’t free. I’m going to have to march down to the co-op and get more wire and wood. You can’t use old wood for these things.
5. Medical and Vet bills—$200+ a year
We are working our way towards never needing a family doctor ever again (holistic and herbal medicine), especially since our pediatrician is getting ready to close its doors. However, at some point we might have an emergency. How will you pay your Dr. bills? Most M.D.’s with a $600,000 yearly income could care less about bartering for eggs or meat.
What about vet bills? If you have larger livestock, then at some point, you’re going to use a vet.
6. Initial start up costs/Animal investments—$1,000+
If you’re buying animals and building structures (properly), it costs money. Be prepared to pour a lot of money into this when you first get started, or if you plan on raising your animals right. I cannot stress to you that the quality of your animals is extremely important. Don’t opt for the $5 rabbits on craigslist. Don’t go for the $50 cow on that facebook group. Don’t….just don’t. If you’re going to do this, do it right. Don’t do it cheap.
If you want a chicken coop to last you more than 2 years, build it with good quality materials. If you want a good quality barn or shed, build it with good quality materials. I am an advocate for using things you already have, we’ve done it before. But also be prepared for those things to fail more quickly, which means more time spent on fixing them and keeping them up. You would have been better off just shelling out the money in the long run.
While all this makes a difference, once again, don’t STRESS and put yourself in financial struggle. It doesn’t have to happen overnight. You can work towards it! If all you have is what you have, then use what you have!
7. Feed for your animals — $15 to $500+ a month (depending on your homestead)
If you only have a few chickens, then you can get away with a bag of feed each month if they free range (not supervised free range, true pasture ranging). Around here, a non-gmo bag of feed is about $15-$17/50 lb bag. Organic feed is higher, at $23 per 50 lb bag. Buying in bulk is cheaper, but not much cheaper. And not necessarily cost efficient. Feed prices depend on how many animals you have and what your homesteading methods are. In the Summer months, our hens mostly free-range, so we can get away with a bag of feed a month. But in the Winter months, we go through a lot more. Same with our rabbits and ducks. If you’re raising meat rabbits, you will still need to supplement feed even if they are on pasture, otherwise you’re wasting your time. You’ll have more money in them than what you’re getting out of them, as pasture raised animals grow slower than feed animals.
8. Your time is equally as valuable—priceless
There is nothing more valuable than your time and skills. If I had paid someone to make my 8ft x 8ft coop, it would have cost me thousands of dollars. Because we built it ourselves (because MM has that skill) we were able to only spend about $800. Yes, you read that right. We also paid a friend (included in price) a couple hundred bucks to help MM finish it, as we were in dire need of a chicken coop (we got our chickens before the coop! Don’t do that!).
You also need to consider your own time. If you’re homesteading, and your family isn’t at your side at all times, then that takes time away from them. Time is more valuable than anything. Don’t value your homestead over your family, friends. Family is more important!
Without giving you too much information of specifics, here is a quick and rough run down of how much we’ve spent to get where we are right now (so, in the past 4 years, this is what we’ve spent).
Our Homesteading Expenses (over the past 4 years):
• Chicken Coop — $800
• Chickens — $400
• Rabbits — $500
• Ducks — $100
• Quail — $40
• Chicken feed — $2000+
• Rabbit feed — $3000
• Rabbit hutches — $800
• Straw — $150
• Expanded chicken run — $300
• Home repairs (only) — $5,000
• Yard/pasture repairs (seeding, leveling) — $300
• Wood for the stove — $2,000 +
• New wood stove (2) — $1,000
• Canning Supplies — $100
• Homeschool Supplies — $1,000
• Raised garden beds — $1,200
• Fill dirt (various projects) — $500
• Various gardening — $300
….I’m already up to almost $20,000 over the past 4 years…and that’s not even half of it. I haven’t even stated food costs, clothing, boots, gloves. I haven’t even gotten into the repairs (and other things) that are needed right now. I’m getting ready to rip my coop floor up and replace it. I’m getting ready to rip wire bottoms out of the bottom of 3 hutches and replace it. And, honestly, I’m probably low balling some of these figures. Because I’ve decided to just not keep up with it anymore. Oops!
My habit is easier if I don’t keep up with it…pffff.
There’s always something that needs mending, someone that needs feeding, and eventually someone is going to need stitches. Normally that someone is me, HA!
Homesteading is awesome. It is so much fun and brings so much satisfaction. But it’s not free, and it’s not always easy. Remember that during your best of times.
But remember that homesteading is a gradual journey. You can do this. But I just wanted to be real with you on cost of living. Take baby steps, and it will be much better!
I think it’s time to set the record straight over here. I think some people are a little confused with what I support and don’t support when it comes to commercial farming. And there are even newcomers who somehow think we’re vegan. No, we aren’t, at all. Though if that’s what you are, that’s fine too!
Let me just start by saying, I DO support commercial farming. I am not against it. I have friends in commercial farming. It is their livelihood. For me to say I don’t support it would be insane and, quite honestly, rude. There are so many people in our country who could not survive if not for commercial farms. Farms, in general, feed masses. Whether it’s commercial or backyard. And that’s a good thing.
However, I DO NOT support the cruelty of animals in certain methods of commercial farming. Let’s show you an example. I have friends who own a dairy farm. Their cows are on pasture pretty much all the time. They milk a couple of times a day in a large parlor with milk machines. And then the cows get fed and head back out to the field. I support that. It’s commercial farming, but I still support it. Their milk is in the store 3 to 4 days later and consumers purchase it. I probably purchase it when we need milk and don’t have access to raw milk. They don’t stand in mud all day. They have freedom to roam. Perfect.
Now, there are other local dairy farms who are just the opposite. Their cows never touch pasture while in prime milking. They stand on concrete and straw all day long. With artificial lighting on 24 hours a day. No dark, whatsoever. They milk up to 6 times a day. After 2 years or less, their bodies are spent. And they are deemed useless.
You can clearly see that there are two different methods to commercial farming. One is “old school” and one is “modernized”. While the old school method might not bring in as much return, at least it allows you to have a clear conscious and keep some morals. The modernized one, not so much. Both farms provide milk to the community, but if we’re being honest, I’d have a better conscious fully supporting the old school than the modernized.
There’s an argument that the cows don’t know any better. And while that may be true — WE know better.
Again, with the entire chicken ordeal. I’m all for commercial chicken farming, but I am AGAINST the animal suffering because of selfish reasons. I’m not against commercial chicken farming, but I am FOR allowing them to have space to run wild and free OUTSIDE where they belong.
We have other friends who are in the planting and harvesting side of commercialized farming. They own or work on large farms that harvest soy beans, alfalfa, corn, and other crops that bring in an income, whether being sold as food or as feed for animals. These crops are GMO crops. I’m fully against GMO crops. But if we’re being honest, half of these farmers just don’t have a choice. They don’t. It’s not an excuse. It’s reality. At first it seemed like a good idea—they yield more product and make more money. They can buy better equipment and support their families. But in the long run, our bodies suffer because of the chemicals in these crops, and so do our animals.
However, I’m not against it. I’m not against supporting my friends and family who have to do what they have to do. They wouldn’t have a business in agriculture if they went completely organic or non-gmo at this point. They inherited these farms and jobs, can you imagine how hard it would be to just stop and work from scratch? It would be hard. People have done it, and still do it. But I support them as humans, whatever their decision may be.
Now, with that said. I don’t support chemical treatments of crops and non-organic feed. From a health standpoint, it’s just not good for our land, animals, or us. But this is a bigger battle, and it’s possible to win, but there will always, always, be GMO crops….always. For the very reason that there are 6 BILLION people in the world and 3 BILLION of them don’t know how to take care of themselves and rely on the grocery store and Big Ag to feed them. It’s not just Big Ag’s fault, people. It’s ours. We allowed it to happen. We allowed it to come into our homes. Careers and tv and cellphones and the finer things in life became too important to us. Gardening and homesteading became less important.
At some point, we became out of touch with the skills and traits necessary to take care of ourselves. Someone had to step up to the plate, and we welcomed them with open arms.
It’s time to stand up for YOURSELF. We might not be able to take on Big Ag and the things we don’t like about it, but we can make a better life for ourselves. I’m not in the business of wanting others to go out of business. But you can change YOURSELF. Grow a garden this year. Learn how to can goods. Get some chickens. Buy some meat rabbits or quail as a meat source. Learn the things your ancestors fought to keep and, somewhere along the line, we failed at keeping. We handed it over and said “take care of us, we’re too lazy and other things are more important….we don’t have the time to fool with it”
And for goodness sake, do your research. We don’t all have it together. WE ARE STILL LEARNING. The commercial farmer isn’t always the bad man. There are plenty of amazing commercial farmers out here doing the best they can and taking care of their animals. I know some backyard farmers who treat their animals worse than Big Ag.
Do what works for you and your family. Learn a skill, a trade. Take care of yourselves and stop depending on overly commercialized products to take care of you. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll appreciate life a little more….be a little healthier….and find that you enjoy the simple things.
When we first started our rabbit journey, I maybe went a little overboard on protecting them through cold weather. But I would rather be over protective than not prepared enough. Last year I read on a social media site where a local “homesteader” lost all her rabbit herd to a big freeze. But the reality is that she was careless. Her rabbit’s living areas were not covered in plastic or stacked with straw to help break the winter wind. They didn’t have extra straw to burrow into. And their water was frozen and only changed once a day. This is the wrong way to do it.
With just a few simple tricks, your herd will be ready to go this Winter!
|We cover this entire hutch with removable plastic or a tarp, and then lift it off of them during the day if necessary.|
I stress clear plastic so that there is more sunlight coming into the hutches. Rabbits needs vitamin D just as much as we do. And they definitely will not mate without a good source of it. This can prove a challenge in early Spring months. With that said, we do use tarps over many of our hutches. Just about anything can go around the hutches as long as it breaks the Winter winds from coming in. If it’s not too windy or well below freezing, I lift the tarps and plastic up during the day, on one side, so that they rabbits can get extra sunlight. If your rabbits do not get enough sunlight, it can make them easily sick as well. This is why I prefer clear plastic. If you are using plastic or a tarp, make sure it’s removable, but also make sure it is tightened down. Wind is a major threat to rabbits!
Your other option can be stacking straw around your hutches, but this can get pricey. Straw insulates as well as breaks the wind. Many people prefer this as it is the warmest option. In order for it to work properly, the straw needs to go on the outside of the hutch, otherwise the rabbits will burrow into it and rearrange it for you.
And make sure there is always enough straw for them to keep warm. We go through a few bales of straw every Winter for as few rabbits as we have. Straw is only $6 or so per bale. It’s not that expensive to add extra if necessary. Because straw is an insulator, your rabbits can arrange it in their hutches the way they wish, and they will burrow into it to keep warm.
4. Consider Giving Them BOSS
Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (BOSS) are a treat for rabbits. We call it a “treat”, rather than a “meal”, because if they were to feed on it every day, they would be extremely over-weight. BOSS causes your rabbit to gain fat in their body. While this is bad for mating, this is wonderful insulation for their body in the Winter months. Consider giving them a few extra handfuls of BOSS each month to help them gain a little weight to keep warm.
5. Add ACV to their Water
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) will help keep their bodies alkaline and healthy in the cold months. make sure you use organic ACV with the Mother. In fact, it’s a great way to keep them healthy all of the time. I find that we tend to give it to them more in the Winter, however. The measurement should be 1 tbs. to a gallon of water. Or you can just top off each crock or bottle with a few drops. This doesn’t need to be an everyday ritual, but can be done several times a week.
|handpicked grass clippings from our yard|
|Gladys and I sharing a moment — one of our healthy, happy, free range egg layers.|
|Some rabbit meat getting ready to go into the oven with some hard apple cider.|
|Well loved rabbits!!|
*Disclaimer: While I am an herbalist, and herbalism is not regulated by the FDA, I am not a medical doctor. The recipes and tips on this website are geared towards those who want to live a more natural lifestyle.
Please use all herbal remedy recipes on this website only after doing thorough research in regard to your own health needs, and after seeking medical attention if necessary.
*Affiliate links: I may receive a commission on some of the links on this website. It is of no additional cost to you.
© All Rights Reserved • Do not use photos or content without written permission • Amy K. Fewell
Copyright © 2019 · Theme by 17th Avenue