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Anyone doing a Bootstrap Business?

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Just curious as to what others might doing in the way of a "Bootstrap Business" on your homestead. Something cheap to get started and generating a little extra income.

We've been gone from home for over 2 years, so are having to whip things back into shape around here. Before we left, I sold a few rabbits and chickens and eggs. We planted tons of daylily bulbs with the intention of selling those as they multiplied. But they all disappeared while we were gone...underground varmints, I presume!

I have started trying to root cuttings off of my ornamental bushes, with the intention of raising them through the summer and then selling them next spring as bareroot plants. I am planning on getting a very large patch of ground ready so that next spring I can plant tons of flower seeds to raise flowers to maybe sell at the farmers market. The weeds are terrible at this time...have to get them under control!

I'll get back into the chickens and rabbits soon. We just finished building a new coop and now have to build the rabbit hutches. We are also planning on selling goats. We bought our first one and after learning how to take care of her and getting our fences up, we are now ready to start adding more.

I also am an artist, so do sell some of my paintings on ebay.


Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

where do you go for 2 years at a time? Paul

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

DH is in industrial construction, mostly building power plant structures. There just isn't much work in that field around here, so we have to travel. It's awful to live like that...we always miss home! Now he's driving 200 miles roundtrip everyday 7 days a week just so he can enjoy an hour or so at nite at home.

Sure wished I had known about DG and what you're doing at your place when he worked in Lakeland. Would loved to have seen it firsthand!

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

HI msrobin!

A friend of mine was in a similar situation that you are in with her husband. He would travel all over the Northwest installing cell towers. It was really hard for her.

Regarding your original post:

I guess that depends on what your definition of "a little money it". I don't want to sound discouraging, but I do want to sound realistic.

Making money on your property or your home and your talents is not as easy as it sounds. Some make it work and some don't. I don't know what is harder, finding the buyers or finding the idea. I tell you what though, when you find that idea, you'll now it!! It will be all that you think about. You'll wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it. You'll dream about it. You'll sit for hours making notes and doing research.

There is really no such thing as a business that is cheap to start that will pay off for you in the long run. It takes years to get to a place where you are making a profit on your investment of time and money and the exceptions to this are very rare!

The major tripping point for me at this phase of the game is making my cost and my time balance. Government regulations, licenses, fees, permits, taxes, INSURANCE!! are really making this hard, this is especially true for people who raise animals.

I'd say the best thing is to raise vegis and sell them at markets or at a roadside stand. You could put your ornamentals right there with em. Our local market does vegis, local honey, cut flowers and nursery stock.

Selling animals you raise can be very slow business. Most buyers are looking for cheap prices or experienced breeders. I have a hard time getting rid of extra rabbits for free, let alone selling them. But people LOVE fresh eggs!!

So I guess the best thing to do is find out what your local economy is missing and fill that gap. Talk to local store owners, talk to the chamber of commerce, produce stand . . . Network, make connections and fine your niche.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Hi, Renwings,

Yep, this lifestyle sucks! But it's paying the bills!

I was just curious to see what other people might be doing, if anything. A lot of the self-sustained living magazines have articles about this subject.

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

Sorry! Can you tell it's a sore spot for me?? I've been working at this for more than 3 years and friends are always asking me questions about how to start their own business, but they don't have any money to invest. It's a Holy Grail as far as I'm concerned.

I make and sell soap, baby outifts. I'm looking into growing herbs to sell at market along side the vegis since no one else is. My soil and climate is VERY conducive to herbs. I have sold eggs, but I don't have enough space for hens to make that viable in the long run.

I've seen your artwork in another thread! You do have lots o'talent. Don't give up on that!

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Thank you.

I'm pretty sure we can make a small income from home at some point, as we have been successful selling the things we have had available in the past.
We're slowly getting things built and set up around here. But it's a slow process, considering everything we had to do.

DH has just recently set up a large studio/workshop to work on furniture. Still have to move the art supplies and tools into it. We've built a goat house and put up a fence, a chicken coop and attached pen, and 1 of 3 rabbit hutches.

After almost 3 years of neglect, our large yard and garden have been taken over by weeds, so that's an ongoing battle! I'm having limited success at rooting cuttings, but I'm still learning. I did put together a potting area/shade house to provide a better place for them. Between the mowing, weeds and drought, I spend about 20 hours a week keeping those things in order. And now that the garden is coming in, another 8-10 hours putting food up.

The next big thing will be buying an utility trailer to take furniture to a huge upscale flea market about 50 miles away. I do have a really nice store that sells my furniture on consignment sometimes. The owner does a beautiful job of setting up store displays.

It's all starting to fall into place! That's part of the reason why DH is commuting, so I can stay home and work on getting things organized around here. We know the potential is very near, and we're almost there!


Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

Do you think all of your efforts will be enough to bring him home for good so he can help you? A friend of mine started a business with that very hope in mind. She is working very hard and is beginning to see success! That is such a wonderful goal!

How exciting! I bet you are ready for bed at the end of the day!!

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

I'm ready for bed long before the end of day! We get up at 3:30, he leaves for work at 4 am, returns at 7:30 pm. He's currently working 7-12's.

Keeping him home is the major goal! (It took a long time to find him, now I just want to keep him close) There was just so much to do laying the groundwork, but we're close to being done. He's really good at doing all he can when he's home, so I don't have so much really heavy stuff to do when he's not. We are just about to the point now where we can concentrate on raising animals and plants, and doing my art projects. Hopefully, when we get the trailer, I'll really be able to start making some money. We live in such a rural community, that I don't sell much furniture or paintings around here. Amazingly, I can sell rabbits, eggs and vegetables, and goats are a big seller around here, too.


Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

if you guys get a trailer you should come to florida for the winters tosell huge flea markets all year round

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

Man, if goats and rabbits would sell around here . . . Everyone keeps goats because they're the only thing that will eat the blackberry brambles that overrun pastures.

Do you sell some of your preserves too?

I settled on the baby outfits because families are ALWAYS having babyies around here!! I went to so many showers and the ladies are looking for unique items to give as gifts. I've tried painting on fabric with fabric paints with good success and the natural designs sell best. Simple little flowers for little girls and frogs for little boys are always a hit it seems. If I keep the price around $15, I don't have a hard time getting them sold.

Have you ever tried motifs and lettering for sign painting? Maybe that kind of work would sell locally better.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Renwings, sounds like you found your niche! I bet they are adorable!

I have done signs, but I don't much care for them. And I try to stay away from special orders, because the potential for disappointment is too great.

I'm still holding this over my naysayer DH's head, who said I could never sell any rabbits out in the country...I had a bunch of extra rabbits and I put a sign down on the road in front of our place. No one came out the first 4 days, but the next three days....lets just say I CAN sell rabbits out here to farmers and even had them spread the word. I could have sold more if I had them. I had guys at the feed store and lumber yard ask me the next week if I had anymore.

Phicks, I'm drawing a blank...what's the name of that town about 15 east of Bartow on Hwy 60? I rented a booth at that flea market for a 2 months and sold every painting and piece of furniture I had! Florida is a nice place to visit (and I did love it there) but it ain't home! The hurricanes scared me!


Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

Aubandale? i have freinds from KY that spend the winter down here he does wood work names on a scroll saw he makes more here in 4 mnts then all year back home they leave in early april so they dont miss the mushrooms lol

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

No, that wasn't it. I met a lot snow birds, that I really enjoyed!

Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

Lake Wales

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

That's it! There's a big indoor flea market just before coming into town. I got lucky and got one the booths right on the front row of the building that had a garage door, so had exposure to customers from inside and outside. I'd prep a piece of furniture at home and then take it in to paint while I was sitting there.

Girard, OH


my one friend has been urging me for a few years now to make decorated grapevine wreaths to sell at the local fleamarkets. The problem is, is that unless I buy the supplies wholesale, I won't get much of a profit from them. I did some snooping around and found out that most people don't want to pay more then $10 for a wreath.

Lake Erie has a few fleamarkets with a large vacationer and cottage renter clientele. They really love the crafts that are nautical based, like painted lighthouses and whatnot. I was thinking of headed towards that niche, but again, it depends on how cheaply I can get the supplies. We have a Michael's, Hobby Lobby, and a Pat Catan's here. Hobby Lobby is out, they're so expensive!

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Hobby Lobby also has 1/2 price sales pretty frequently. Stock up then. I don't know about Michaels, as I have only been in one store to buy more paint.

But you're on the right track with the nautical stuff!


Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

If you're willing to buy online, you can find some great deals!


Buying in qauntity will bring the price down on wholesale items. Some wholesalers require you to prove you're a business entity and some do not. The ones that offer better prices do!
I believe in some states, if you have a business license or tax ID, you don't you to pay sales tax on the items you buy in some cases, only when you sell them. That will help your cost.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Way to go, renwings! I never thought about checking to see if there was a floral wholesaler on line and I sure forgot when I was doing craft work years ago, I was able to buy stuff at a local wholesaler store with my tax ID#, couldn't buy fresh flowers because I wasn't a florist, but everything else.


Girard, OH

Cool site, renwings, thank ya. =)

The funny thing is, is when I go to craft store, there are these floral arrangements and various wreathy stuff that have $30 or up price tag on them!!! I look at these wreaths and think " well.. dang, I can make that" LOL I mean, who in the world pays $30 for a fall foliage wreath, and WHERE can I find these folks? ;)

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Sorry to bust your bubble...nobody buys them at that price. They wait for them to go on sale. Actually, I don't know.

When I would take my painted furniture to a sale, I'd hear people make negative comments about the prices I had on it. But I also had people that would buy it without batting an eye. Most people though, did compliment me on it. It wasn't a cash sale, but still made me feel good. I just knew that my stuff wasn't for everybody.

Girard, OH

Inspired from another thread.. maybe I should look into breeding goldfish. =)

Robin, your artwork is definitely worth the price you put on it. You put a lot of time and talent into those pieces. It's always been the artist's dilemma.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

NCG, guess I'm just following around!!! ;)

That's a good idea! Raise them and sell them, could do rabbits easily too.

Girard, OH

Eh, I just looked up goldfish breeding on several sites and they maintained that it just wasn't profitable, but lots of fun. =)

It's so hard finding a bootstrap niche to fit into that isn't already saturated. My best friend does fleamarkets, but she ends up spending more then she makes, lol. She sells little kitchen doodads. So far, the nautical craft idea seems the most doable. I'll be looking up wholesale craft sites.

What might end up happening is that instead of doing one thing, I'll doing a bunch of little things. The Jack Of All Trades, haha!

In the meantime, I have to go out and get a part time job. (Sigh)
Sacrificing outrageous amounts of free time for very little money.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Know what you mean....

I, too, figured I'd need a combination of things to make a go of a home based business. We're out in the country, but there's still a reasonable demand for vegetables, chickens, rabbits and goats. Lots of ideas, but need to finish building and setting up for the basics first, then will move on to another questionably profit-producing ideas.
Still think the cut flowers and flowering bushes are a very good possibility.

I admire your enthusiasm, NCG.

Girard, OH

Oh, sure.. or how about organic salad greens for local restaurants? Would those sell around there?

My area is pretty unique in that even though I'm in an industrial town, go 20 minutes in any direction and you'll find rural living. Well, maybe not 20 minutes due south... more like 40 minutes down there. =)

The northern part of our county has a ten mile stretch of Amish farms. Nothing touristy like Lancaster, just a quiet Amish community living their lives. =) so.. there are country-related crafts that are easily found here. Little home-based veggie stands are everywhere. Greenhouses, farmer markets.. not uncommon. So that's basically my challenge in finding a niche. But the good news is that certain items are very available.

The "city folk" are more rural then what they might think. =)

You have plenty enthusiasm as well and thank you. =) Heartening to see encouragement from somebody who understands the various challenges and rewards. Are you deep deep in the country? If not, it might be worthwhile to check some eateries to see if they want local fresh greens.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

I'm 3 miles from two towns that only has conveinence stores, & 7 miles from a town of 850 people, 25 miles from 2 different towns with 20,000. Then 45 miles from 2 small cities.

There are several restarants in the 2 '20,000 people' towns, so that's a possibility. But I don't have a car to use during the day. DH is gone 16 hours a day. We bought a used a car that should have got better gas milage, but took it back after a week.

Right now, my husband is taking a laundry basket full of veggies to work 3 times a week for the guys he works with. I can't keep up with the freezing, drying and canning.

Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

Robin See if you can get a old second hand Dieasel Car Or Truck

Girard, OH

Ah, Robin, I can sympathize there, we're a one car family also. Most days my husband keeps reasonable hours, but he's a social worker who plans adoptions, so he does need to go out of town often. this month he had to stay overnight down in the Dayton area twice. It really stinks, but his agency has to accept the clients. I'm within walking distance to everything, but it's still hard.

One of our goals is to pay off our debt as much as possible, scale down considerably, so HE can spend more time at home, too! I bet your husband is so tired when he gets home!

(Zone 7a)

I haven't checked this out yet, but it looks like a potential market for your seeds:

http://davesgarden.com/forums/p.php?pid=3797659 (This link is from the DG Morning Glory forum, which is open only to paid subscribers)

We have a small, shady garden where greens do best, so if y'all were to sell seed of red, frilly kale or radicchio or Chinese brassicas like pac choi or lettuces or shade tolerant parsley or beans, etc., I'd be part of your market.

interesting discussion

This message was edited Aug 2, 2007 12:39 AM

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

NCG, and grouchy sometimes! :( Yeah, we're trying to do the same thing! We're lucky that our health is still good, so Al can do these long days and I can do some of these building projects around here (although I have to take lots of breaks). But, it's coming along! I talked to him about wanting the greenhouse last nite...I had been thinking just 8' x 12' outside the back corner of the garden. He's already talking much bigger, maybe two GH, right in the garden!

We've got an Amish family that lives in the area. I see them at the grocery store once in a while, and they are at the flea market every week. I find their lifestyle very fascinating. I would love to spend a few hours visiting with them to see how they do it!

Phicks, it's a really good idea, but we decided to hold off on another car for awhile. But I'll keep it in mind. We decided that he'll just stay overnight up there 2 or 3 nights a week.

Bluespiral, haven't checked it out, yet, but will in a bit. :)

Girard, OH

This weekend, my husband and I are going to have a Project Plan and put it down on paper, lol. It sounds extreme, but it's sooo easy to get overwhelmed with current projects, researching things, seeing something and wanting it to do Right Now!

Like, one thing we SO need to get done is clear out space in our house. Time to get rid of things. That's not really a project, more like drudgery, but it needs to be done, lol.

I'll be trying the local restaurants next year to see if they want greens. =) In the meantime, gotta get a little jobette.

You're really artistically inclined, have you also thought about crafting some olive oil lamps made from recycled and reclaimed stuff? I've seen some really pretty lamps on the Internet.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Thank you!

What are olive oil lamps? Do I use those words to search?

I sketched out a drawing of 'The Plan' for our place on poster board, where everything will be set up, planted, etc. Everything is labeled and at the side, I have a more detailed description of the ideas. I keep this hanging on the wall by my desk for inspiration and reference.

When Al is gone for a month or so at a time, I go from one end of our place to the other clearing out stuff. I get pretty brutal about it, too. Just seems to be easier when I'm all by myself. Keeps me busy to help pass the time, plus I don't have to clean up my mess every evening before he gets home. Have a big camper full of stuff for a yard sale, which will be done when I have my currently rooting plants ready for sale. Figured that would be a good way to start getting the word out about my nursery business for next spring.

I'm really excited about the coming spring! We have got a lot of things in motion for next spring. Building our goat herd, one at a time. Will buy a buck in January, should have lots of babies by June. I've got a lot of bush cuttings already rooted and need to pot up. Chickens should be laying really heavy in the spring. And over the winter will paint a lot of pictures and do some garden related craft items. Come spring, plant a lot of seeds in the GH. Hopefully, it will all come together and work out as planned!

It is a slow process getting started, and sometimes I get overwhelmed by the amount of things left to do. But I have to remain focused of why we're doing this, and that is to get my DH to retire from construction.

It is so nice to exchange ideas with you!


Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

Robin if you got that second hand dieseil car or truck for 20 bucks you can convert it to run on Bio Fuel Marathon Sells it in your Area of KY

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Phicks, thanks! I'll check that out!

Girard, OH

You can do a search and get ideas, and I think they're on the Path To Freedom site, too. =)

Heheh, you sound about a zillion steps ahead of us. I still have to lay out the garden in my front yard, paint the house, and do some cosmetic work before winter. Out of all the animal options available to me, bees seem to be the best one. You know they have hive plans out there for DIYers? We also looked into breeding koi but that takes ALOT of specialized equipment, not to mention space. Too bad, koi can bring in some pretty good money.

The kids go back to school on the 28th, hooray! It IS hard to buckle down and get things done when you're not alone! LOL!

And I'd love to have Timothy (hubby) retire from social work as well. It's a really emotionally draining, thankless job. I thought about going back to school, but I don't want to juggle home, husband, kids, job AND college. It's just not worth it, to me.

Could you put in hives on your property? 'cause there's another option... selling honey and beeswax products. =)

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

NCG, Are the kids looking forward to going back to school? The schools here started earlier this week!

I love The Path To Freedom and refer back to that site often for inspiration! I don't feel that we are that far ahead of you. And I sure had a whole lot more energy earlier this spring and summer! It's been so hot lately and going to be worse this next week. Don't feel like I accomplish much at all these days.

This is actually the easy part, though, in spite of being sopping wet with sweat by 9 am. The hard part is figuring out what you want to do and where to do it at. Get your "have to do" stuff done now and you've got all winter to make your plan!

I don't think I'm interested in bees...just never really gave it much thought.

Our place looks awful right now! The lawnmower and weed eater both broke down and my weeds are approaching knee high. It was a hayfield when we bought it, but keeping it mowed, it made a decent yard. Without mowing, the weeds take over! We are ordering a big garden tractor today, so hopefully it will be delivered by the middle of next week. I'll be fairly dangerous around here then, after we buy the pull behind tiller and scoop for it!

Did get all the animal pens built, except still want to do a rabbit run thing. Haven't got my details worked out on that design yet. We were just lucky we had all that salvageable wood from the other side to work with. I figure there was probably $1,000 worth of plywood and 2' x 4" to play with. The goat pens are just 4 1/2' tall boxes with slightly sloping roofs. But the rabbit hutch and hen house are much nicer. My arm's a little tired from patting myself on the back, but I did good! :)

Planning on buying the greenhouse stuff in two more weeks. (Sure could do all this stuff quicker if we could just pick the right lottery numbers!) Do have lots of rooted cuttings and working on getting some different plants soon to work on.

Already runnig the sprinkler in the garden, so guess I better go get started outdoors. May have to take a few runs through the sprinkler myself!


Girard, OH

Urg, it was flipping hot this weekend we got nothing done, lol, just lulled around. =)

The kids are acting like they don't want to go back to school, but they're hot and getting bored with too much free time. They're also just driving me nuts, lol.

That is SO cool that you built your own animal pens.. do you have any pictures? One thing I'd like to get done before next spring is set up indoor growing lights in our basement to start seeds. DH and I have decided to *try* and do one small project a week, one big project a month, and each of us learn a new skill every month.

Our yard looks ok, except for the side bed, it's pretty overgrown. There hasn't been enough rain for any grass growth. I'm building the lasagna beds now, covering them with mulch and letting them lay until May. May 15th is our last frost date up here, but it's not uncommon to have an unseasonably cold spell. Lake Erie can be tempermental.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

NCG, I know what you mean about the heat! I ought to be out there now for a little bit, before it gets much hotter. Just can't bring myself to go back out, yet. Just came in from letting the chickens out and checking on the goats water. Oppressive is right! I start having breathing problems when it gets hot and humid, so try to do my work early or doing short spurts thru the day.

I was pretty proud of the henhouse (and the rabbit hutch). It's nothing special and all made with salvaged materials, but it turned out decent enough. The main thing is, I learned how to build something. It'll look much better when it's painted, I think. I'll try to take pics today and post them, but only if you promise not to laugh! It's so satisfying learning how to do this stuff. Imagine the fun and bonding experiences you all could have! Start small, maybe build some birdhouses and let the kids help measure and lay things out. Let them paint the birdhouses. Lots of plans on the internet.

Got our new garden tractor Saturday. YIPPEE! Learned how to drive it and use it last night...yep, I can do some serious work around here now! LOL

You are doing the right thing getting your garden beds started now. By next spring, they will be in great shape for planting! I need to clean out all the critter pens to put the old bedding down where my new additional garden space will be next year. (Still think you ought to consider rabbits, both for sales of the young and the manure for the garden) We had a wonderful warm early spring here. Got lots of things planted early, trees and plants were filling out, then we got hit with 4 days of freezing temps, followed by drought. Still 12'' below normal rainfall.

I look around here and think of all the stuff that still needs to be done and wonder if it will ever get done. But when I remember how much we've gotten accomplished this spring and summer, it doesn't seem so much. But we will never be done, actually. There will always be something that needs fixing, or something else we want to build.

I heard something yesterday, that I thought was pretty cool off of the Dr. Wayne Dyer special on PBS...."There is no way to happiness, Happiness is the way". That sums up just about everything in life, don't you think?

It was nice visiting you this morning, but I really need to get to work...for a little bit, at least. Have a great day!


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