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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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!!
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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? ;)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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. :)
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.
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.
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. =)
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!
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.
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!
This is the front. It's 6' wide, 5' deep and 6' tall. I'll cover the wire on the front and end with plastic or plywood when it gets cold. I cut a hole in the fence bottom on the end so they can get to a secure yard. The white nesting box thing was just an old homemade grocery store display cabinet that I got from a little store here. The chickens like it. The gate on the left is so I can get inside the 12' x 10' pen for cleaning. I have a sheet of plywood I keep leaned up against the front for shade in the mornings till I get out there and let them out.
Remember I told you not to laugh...This is the end where the secure yard is. I used chicken wire on top so had to put up the 2 x 4 frame in the center for support for the wire overhead, but they use it for roosting, too. I used some white metal tubes to hold the upper edges in shape until I can get to the lumber yard for some 1" x 2"s. Not very pretty, but functional. I'll paint it all this fall.
It took me four days, but I was figuring out how to do things as I went. It is pretty secure...I got locked in it by accident. :(
Hopefully, when I add the boards around the top edge, I can take some of that fence sag out of the top. If I can't, oh well! There's several wild trumpet vines right behind it, that I'm trying to get to grow over it anyway for summer shade.
I built it right up against the side of the little shelters for the goats. Just a precaution, in case my building project couldn't stand on it's own. LOL
Oh my gosh, that is so cute! LOL! It would be adorable painted bright red, with "Robin's Lil' Red Henhouse" on it, heehee!
I was more productive today then I was this weekend. We finally broke down and used to a/c, which I hate to do, but it was so sticky hot inside. We have built-in cabinets in the LR that got cleaned out, the old linens snipped up for rags. It was so hard to clear out my books, but we had so many of them. It's time to pass 'em along. We still have a long way to go, though. thank goodness for Freecycle. =)
The only issue I would have with the rabbits is the selling part. I get so attached to animals if they're under my care, plus my kids would put up a major fuss. I'm seriously looking into keeping some hives, though. =)
Have you thought about sewing or weaving, or anything like that? The equipment needed for weaving is costly, but handwoven tapestries could sell. My husband and I took a drive up to Lake Pymatuning in PA, where they were having a craft festival. I noticed that most of the displays all seemed to look the same. Lots of wooden country things decorated with silk flowers, lots of hand strung jewelry. I'm wondering if something a bit more unique would sell better.
Of course, I can't sew worth a darn, lol. That's another skill on the list. Quilting looks fun, and economical. I DID see these soft cuddly double fleece blankets that were made by simply sewing two blankets together. The colors and patterns were bright... I wonder if more earthy rustic tones would be more appealing?
NCG, Thanks! I was thinking all the pens looked a little shabby right now, but I know some paint will really fix them up! Red would be cute, wouldn't it?
I guess I just don't know anything about bees. I've seen some bee boxes out in fields, but have never seen anyone working with them. Suppose it could actually be kind of peaceful working with them. I'll have to check that out. It may very well be something we can work on here.
My day was a little more productive, too. Did a lot of raking where Al had mowed so that I could put the clippings in the garden. I sure miss my pool! But I handled the heat a little better today, must not have been so humid!
Are you old enough to remember the tube socks with the colored stripes around the top? I had a husband and 3 boys that wore them. I came up with about 2 large trash bags full of socks that didn't have a match or a mate. I cut them in strips starting at the top and working my way around to the bottom, so that I had one long strip from each, then crocheted them into round area rugs. They looked pretty cool! Have no idea whatever happened to them, but I made 3 or 4.
Had to come in to take a break...temperature is rising rapidly! It's senseless to run a sprinkler in my gardens, as it only waters 1 of 4 sections about 1/4" in 2 hours. Easier just to water each plant and baby trees and bushes individually, but still takes 3 hours!
Oh wow, I slept in today. No other ideas as of yet. Gotta wait until the coffee kicks in, haha.
ragrugs sound so intriguing, and something I can learn how to do. Found a website called the Rugmakers Homestead that has all kinds of info.
The humidity up here was so bad yesterday that it felt like we got transplanted to Southeast Asia. The sweat was just pouring, it was crazy. Not a good thing when you're only showering once a day. We had a few downpours, once early in the morning, once at night. It's apparently monsoon season in Ohio.
Have you signed up for Freecycle? I just joined and it's so cool. =) People just offer things for free, and you can offer things, or post something you're looking for. That's how I'm getting rid of all my excess stuff. Yard sales are a huge bother.
Hopefully, I'll get the kitchen done today. Looks like it going to be another sticky day, too. I'd like to order a book on ragrugs from that website, as well. =) Between that, and the nautical crafts, the organic greens... I might just have some reasonable income next year generated from home! Yippee! Good-bye to crappy jobs!
PS- Kentucky is so pretty. My grandfather grew up there, in Owsley County. He was a true mountaineer, too. Kentuck and WV are my two choices of residence if I ever had to tear myself away from my beloved NE Ohio. ;)
Have a good day, Robin Red, and do try to stay cool. =)
Cool website! That would be a lot of fun, I'd think. I have a "wagon wheel" rag rug that belonged to my Grandmother, then my Mom, and now me. It's done in light turquoise and white. Very pretty and it has held up so well for it's age! You could start small and do placemats and tablerunners, till you got he hang of it.
OMG, it hit 101 yesterday and they're calling for it again today and tomorrow! It had been in the 90's and I was dying then. I can only manage to work outside till 9:30 or 10:00. Then, I'm done for!
You have inspired me about cleaning stuff out. I started working on the kitchen yesterday and will work my way through.
Had to leave in a hurry...Bought a new garden tractor and had it delivered Saturday. Had to call Sunday because it wouldn't start. They brought me a new one today.
Anyway, I had gone through everything back in March and cleared out lots of stuff, now stacked in the camper for a yard sale. Al's Mom passed away in March and we brought some stuff back in May, plus some other stuff we acquired along the way. Have to sort through all this stuff now. Never ending!
Don't know where Owsley county is. My Dad was born and raised in Hazard County, on the southeast edge of Kentucky. It is beautiful here, although we only have rolling hills here and not mountains. I had never been to Kentucky till Al came here for a job a few years ago. I came from Mo and Ne.
I did get signed up for freecylce, but haven't gone into it yet. I keep forgetting about it. Thanks for reminding me, I'll do that now!
It was a crazy day yesterday.. had a Freecycle guy get lost on the way to picking up the books, lol. BUT.. the livingroom: DONE!
I also looked up a few wholesale craft supplies.. you need a business license for some of them. The ragrug idea is still intriguing. =) Definitely a winter project to while away our cold NE Ohio months. The cool thing is, is that I know there is no market for homemade rugs around here. Could it be a niche??
The weather finally cooled down a bit, due to some heavy rains yesterday. Thank god, I can breath again.
So.. how're you? LOL. It's so cool we can exchange little progress reports and ideas like this... knowing you're facing a lot of the same challenges I am right now.
NCG...I am SO disappointed in you! It was 104 here yesterday and you didn't send any of that rain this way? Shame on you! :) I was melting here. If a person could lose weight, just by sweating, I'd be so skinny! LOL
I think rag rugs are an excellent idea. There were so many pretty ones on that website. I didn't read a whole lot of it, to see what all was involved, but I think it would be fascinating to watch as they take shape and you can see a design forming. I found a denim rug page and thought of you. I'll post it here for you later. Don't give up on the wreath idea, either. You could do both.
Wonder where renwing is? She found her niche doing baby clothes.
I was working outside this morning and thinking how beautiful it was! Had to laugh...it was 85!
I'm getting really excited again. I cut and started a bunch of clippings off of my flower bushes. Hopefully they will root in time to put them in the ground before winter. I have about 100 already rooted, but I need to get some ground ready, so I can plant them. I ordered a whole bunch of seeds yesterday, but won't start them till early next spring. Should have a good selection next spring.
We got our new garden tractor earlier this week and a new weedeater last night. The weeds had grown up so much since both the push mower and weedeater broke down a couple of weeks ago. I couldn't stand the way this place looked! I could barely find anything in the garden! I like to use the weedeater to clean up the garden paths, then I go back and weed the rows by hand. I've learned how to work wonders with it! We love the garden tractor, we've already cut almost 3 acres with it...looks SO much better!
After I get the garden looking good again, I'll get back to finishing the rabbit hutches. I've got so much stuff (wood, fencing, corrugated metal roofing, etc) stacked up back there, but didn't want to put it away till I was finished building. Then will get some more rabbits, and add a couple of more goats.
So...how's your day going and what steps are you taking toward your dreams?
This is a really simple, simple quilt. I didn't look at the whole page when I ran across it, but I'm sure you can find some more elaborate ones for ideas elsewhere. You might, also, click on the "home" button at the bottom of the page. This is a nice little website showing all the stuff they are doing.
Haha, there was a offer for free rabbits on Freecycle this morning, plus an outdoor hutch and feed. I wanted to reply so bad, but I had to ask my man if it were okay first. By the time he returned my call, somebody already grabbed them. =(
I put in about 10 job apps today, that's what I did. Started a little on the kitchen, took a nap. =) In that order! LOL! I think I'd like to hunt down some coconut and palm oil today... do a little supply shopping, check out sources for fabric. Maybe scope out cinder blocks for the grabbing. =)
Aw, that blue jean quilt is adorable! And it looks warm. I bet something like that would be great as a window cover for the winter.
Where the heck is Renwing? On the soapmaking site?
LOl, coconut and palm oil for soap
fabric for rugs
cinderblocks for more gardens. =)
I found coconut oil in a health food store that was ohmygosh so expensive! So we're going to look at our local grocery store. No go on the palm oil. I'm almost ready to say forget the coconut and palm, i'll just see what straight olive oil will be like. We're making soap partly to be cost-efficient... how cost efficient can it be if the ingredients are top dollar? Shee!
Oh, stopped at PetSmart, almost came home with another cat. Heh.
Plain white cotton is $3 a yard... what I'd like to do is grow some dye plants and color the cotton for the rugs right here at home. =)
How's the weedy yard coming along? lol. You're doing a ton of outside work, wow. My front flower bed needs weeded, badly. It's just been too humid for me to spend lots of time outside.
Can you believe they have Christmas stuff out at the craft stores already?
I was hoping that was what you wanted the oils for! Reading through the soap making forum and searching on line, I'm sure you can find cheaper sources. I considered making bath and beauty products for sale, but figured I already had too much going on. Sounds kind of fun, though.
Cool idea about dying your own fabric for rugs. Pretty interesting! I think you're onto something...
Weedy yard looking SO GOOD! Garden and flower beds still need more work, which I'm heading out shortly to do. Between the weed eater and a jug of weed and grass killer, I can work wonders in a short amount of time! OMG, the weeds are so bad, they are growing through 4" of new gravel on the driveway. Some areas you can't even see the gravel! Walked the 1,000' drive yesterday spraying W&G killer. Been running the sprinkler in the garden since 4 am, moving it every 1 1/2 hours. Can't remember if I told you, that I am planning on having a "backyard nursery" area with garden art, birdhouses, nature decor items and fountains. Figured it would fit into the scheme of things planned.
Okay, I'm off to the great outdoors to enjoy another beautiful day! Only suppose to get to 92 today...Yippee! Have a wonderful day!
I heard too much Crisco can make a soft squishy soap, but maybe that can be balanced out with olive oil, dunno.
At this point, I'm ready to say forget the coconut and palm and just stick with straight olive oil. It's the one thing we always have in our house, haha! I cook with it, I use it as hair conditioner.. olive oil just plain rocks.
Robin Red, I cannot believe you have the motivation to go and work in that kind of heat..wow. We took the kids to the lake yesterday and stupid me, I didn't use sunscreen, so I'm burnt. Not badly, though.
Today, we're starting on The Creepy Basement. If you guys don't hear from me after today, it's because the monsters ate me. Please say a prayer to protect us from the ghoulies that lurk in the depths of The Creepy Basement!
(I'm not lying, it really is very creepy, lol)
I plan on maybe converting the old coal cellar into a root cellar, but i'm not sure if it gets cool enough.
Bleh, I need some motivation. August sucks the energy right out of me. All we want to do is lay around and eat ice cream. robin, you should bottle up some your energy and send it up here. =) You have tons of it, girl!
Stay cool, don't get overheated, and have a good one!
I'd like to say I was a ball of fire when it comes to energy, but I just take LOTS and LOTS of breaks! I kind of lost interest in everything outside for a few weeks when both the mower and weedeater broke down, because I couldn't keep up with the weeds and it looked so bad! But we bought new ones (I LOVE my DHs new garden tractor!) and now I'm getting caught up...and it's looking SO GOOD!
I'm jealous! You have a possible root cellar? There's lots of info available about root cellars and the temperature requirements. After you get the basement cleaned out, why don't you get a bunch of mix-matched paint (cheap at $2-$3 a gal) and do some fancy painting on the walls? Good project to stay out of the heat.
I've been planning (while on breaks) a version of a hoop greenhouse for our front deck for the winter. Think I got all the details figured out. One side of our trailer faces south and it is soooo hot in the summer, but would get tons of sun in the winter. I'm going to use the cattle panels to make an arch from the top of the trailer to the outer edge of the deck. For winter I'll cover it in heavy plastic. We'll be able to open the front door for lots of extra light and heat. In the spring I'll plant some kind of fast growing vines to cover it for lots of shade.
Might consider making your soaps to sell, as well as some other bath and beauty products. I rarely see those for sell. I've got a bunch of recipes printed out, thought that might be a good winter project for me.
Phicks, where did you see a recipe for soap using Crisco?
Crap, I'm catching a cold. All the rotten luck. It hit around later afternoon yesterday, I started getting really tired. And ended up going to bed at 8:30! Bleh.
Anyways... what's on your agenda today? I'm going to go ahead and work on the kitchen anyway. I'm trying to get all the inside stuff before the kids start school, lol. The basement has been postponed until this weekend, since the kiddies will be with their dad that then. It'll just be easier.
We're also picking up more cinder blocks this week. =)
Crisco soap: yeah.. I agree with GM, ew. It can be done, but it probably makes a super squishy soft soap. My husband and I have decided to go with the straight olive oil soap. We found out that the specialty oils are not only hard to find, but expensive as all get out. Believe it or not, handcrafted natural beauty products are sold all over the place up here, there's too much of a market for it. Our soaps and stuff will be home use only.
Goodmorning to you, NCG! Sorry to hear you aren't feeling well!
I got to sleep in this morning. Yippee! Al stayed in Loiusville last night. Finally convinced him to rent a room by the week up there to stay in 3 or 4 nights a week. This job is wearing us both out with the long days!
It was beautiful here yesterday...heavy cloud cover and no sun till about two, so seemed much cooler. Worked in the gardens till then, weeding and watering. Suppose to be the same today, so hopefully might be able to finish the main garden. Finally got all of the landscaped beds weeded and everything around here has been edged, so all looks so much better.
Will work on the outside as long as I can hold up today.
Oops! I missed this thread - got too busy to notice it but you folks are inspiring :)
Got a couple of hens last month to keep my lonely rooster company. It's nice to have fresh eggs. One lady in a nearby farmer's market asks $5 per dozen (greenish ones, Aracuana or whatever it's called). I'm not paying that unless I hatch them out.
Bees - I got into it 4-5 years ago. Supposedly would expect to make about $400/hive/year after the first year according to the beekeepers class I took at the ag school (4 months long - highly recommend - there is a lot to learn about bees - given by a local bee club). BUT - bees have got MAJOR disease problems right now. In addition to various mites which bother them a lot, now there is something called colony collapse disorder which is wiping out hives. Talk to your local bee club before you invest much into this. Old used hives often have foulbrood and other diseases so it probably isn't a good way to "save" money.
I really need to find more bootstrapping stuff. Life keeps getting in the way. Daughter and babies just moved back in. I quit a decent paying job because of ridiculous hours but still can't find time to do everything!
Good luck on getting your husbands more freedom and more time close by. Very important!
msrobin, when I had classes for the Master Gardener class in Bowling Green I found out they have an active bee keepers group that meet once a month. They are from surrounding counties. Carol is one agent that you can ask for she if very educated and helpful. Sweet person too. Good Luck
I have turned a hobby into a micro business, selling the increases from my hybrid dayliles. DG ads have helped a great deal with orders.
Teresa, I have several things that I could do from home to generate income, but can't do much out here on the road. But every chance we get to be home for a month or two, we get a little more prepared for when we can stay home permanantly.
I'll have to check out selling through DG ads. I'm selling a little bit on EBAY, but had to remove my paintings. Too much trouble to carry them around the country. I did bring paint supplies, so if I paint any others while we're here, I can add those back in.
Hi, JJ...Thought about pumpkins, too, but am not sure my thumb is green enough, yet! I planted a few seeds last spring in a big bare spot by the shed. Didn't do anything except loosen the soil in a foot wide/deep hole. Obviously will need to do more, as what few pumpkins there were, were really small.
I started rooting ornamental bush cuttings early in the summer and when we left home in September they were doing pretty good. We watered them well and put down lots of mulch, so hopefully they will survive until we get back. Also, planning on Gladiolias, if I can find the bulbs cheap.
When we lived in La. back in the day, I raised rabbits. We used them for meat and I had a few regular customers that I sold dressed rabbits to, as well. I would breed so the litters would be ready to wean at Easter. Then I would set up a roadside stand and sell Easter bunnies. I would make enough money with the Easter bunnies to fund the business the rest of the year. They were easily maintained and I got fertilizer for lots of other projects.
Where are you now and when will you be going home?
Cajun, still in Hobbs, New Mexico. Al's part of the project is almost done. He might roll over to another phase of the construction project in mid-December. If he does, we'll be here till spring. If not, we'll be home by Christmas. I'd just as soon stay here for a few more months, since we can't do a whole lot outside at home till then. (Seems like the more we accomplish at home though, the harder it is to be away!) I'm running the tool room now, so the extra money is sure nice. But it's wearing on us both, as we're working 7 days a week, 10 to 12 hour days. Guess we're just getting too old for this line of work.
Rabbits are on my list. We started twice with rabbits, but unable both times to stick with it long enough to have much success. I'm having a really hard time finding a good source for chickens and rabbits. I had a good source a couple of years ago, but he's no longer selling them. And I guess now I have "sucker" written on my forehead, because I sure got took on the last rabbits and chickens. LOL
Yes. We have a few. LOL We have 2 dogs, a flock of free ranging chickens, 1 rooster tied on a chord and 11 horses. Sadly, our pet possum passed away. We were all devastated but my DGS took it the worst. He banged his head against the couch and cried himself to sleep. She was a member of the family. Hopefully we can rescue and release any that need help this spring. Many times when the mothers get killed on the road, they have babies in the pouch. We stop on the road and check. So many are killed on the road. We are planning to have rabbits again when we buy the barn and move there. Maybe a milk goat, too. We love animals. We will also have to have a couple of barn cats. Can't do without them.
Cute picture! Possums aren't too welcome around our place though...found a couple of little ones coming out of the chicken coop one night. Other than those, we really haven't seen any other little furry creatures on our place. My Dad found a baby raccoon years ago in Omaha after it's mama was hit by a car and he raised it for about 6 months. Found a place that rescued them to take it, when it started climbing the curtains and tearing wallpaper off the wall. Love to watch the critters waddling though!
Very pretty glassware. Do they sell "Bawls" energy drink where you live? My DD drinks them. Darker blue glass than yours and has evenly spaced bumps or dots. Looks like 2" wide. They might work for you and they'd be free if you drank the drinks. I don't know what they taste like.
We still haven't gotten anything up and running. Lots of things in the works, but the demands of life keep slowing us down. Hoping we get the workshop built soon, so I can get back to painting furniture. Will start listing my paintings on ebay again when we get home from this trip. But the competition is fierce! (And I am not nearly as accomplished as some of the artists on ebay.) Am planning on doing a couple of art sales in Bowling Green, Ky. in a few months.
Haven't replaced the critters yet, that we sold last fall before the New Mexico trip. And my plant propagating didn't produce enough plants to sell. But if we can manage to stay home for a few months, may be this summer...
Late to the thread, but you're in a good location to set up targeting "Vacation Homes at The Lake" (Yes, I'm local...) People are used to looking for crafts in Amish country on their way through and the lake home business is still booming if you can find a spot to grab their attention. Maybe one of those small shops or spots coming in from rt60? I'm located on the way to the "other" lake and hoping to set up a seasonal all-sorts stand stocked with whatever I feel like making at the time. We gave away 10 free kittens here and you know you usually can't pay people enough to take free kittens. In my book that means we have a good market!
Rough River Lake is also a good one, though you may have to cross it to find a good spot. I've been having pipe dreams about felt bags and hats to go after the baskets veggies canned goods cheeses painted gourds and other stuff I'm going to do Oneday. I'm in a prime spot to target Nolin, but we might even (when I get it together) do a tandem/tagteam type thing -hit'em from both sides (lakes) so-to-speak. Kelly
I've only seen the west side of Rough River up 79 out of Caneyville. Didn't know there was more to it. I don't get out much in my own "backyard". Too busy following DH all over the country! He's in industrial construction and there's not much of that going on around here.
Question about the freecycle site. Is it freecycle.com or another name. My computer just keeps bring up alot of different free names but no site.Some nights it is a pill. msrobin nice paintings.Have thought about taking a course but seem to be too busy.Havs a new grandson on the way so am soon going to be sewing for a nursery. deanna
Here's the link to freecycle. You need to register/apply, then you will get an email a day or two later letting you know you have been accepted into a group before you can access anything. http://www.freecycle.org/
Ms. Robin, I've sold artist trading cards on ebay and done really well. They are 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches...the size of a baseball card. Artists and others collect them. I do mostly animals but any subject that's really well done will sell. I've sold them for over $60.
Now, lots of artists are opting out of ebay and migrating to etsy.
My name's also Robin, btw, and my husband designs the electrical power in nuclear power plants!
And my husband builds nuclear power plants! What a coincidence!
I tried the artist trading cards on ebay. I got a bunch of nasty messages from people saying they are NOT to be sold. I think the most I got for one was around $10. Do you have any on ebay now, so that I could look at some of yours? If you do, D-Mail with the web address.
Edited to add a note...I found your home page...OMG! You are fantastic! I do a lot of artwork and painting, but mostly landscapes and decorative painting. I've tried people (no one in particular) and I really struggle at it. We've about decided to stick with my decorative painted furniture and DH wants to build country furniture and refinish furniture. Hopefully, when he retires, we can earn enough money doing that.
msrobin, i'm new to this site but i am in the middle of starting a aquaphonic system where you grow tilapia fish and run their waste water threw growing beds then back to the tank.
i've told some of the oriental ladies at our farmers market and i thought they were going to jump on me with delight they all gave me their numbers so that i could call them when i had my first batch ready.
the talopia are ready in 6-9 months from fry size and if you grow lettuce you could have a crop every 30 days.
i don't think i am going to have trouble getting rid of the fish and if the veggies i grow don't sell i can always can or eat them.
i've got about 80 perch and five catfish in our pool right now that i am going to half to put into a tank so that my wife will get off my back lol. if your interested i have other sites that have a little more info and i am thinking about starting a thread to keep everyone informed about this project. because you can go large or small with this one guy i read about use small rubber made tubs.so when i say small i mean small. sorry i'm rambling late.
ha paul perch and tilapia are fish tilapia are omnivorous but preference for soft aquatic vegetation you can see a picture at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilapia perch you can catch in any lake,pond or river some people call them pan fish.
I spent years trying to make money off the homestead. It is not easy. I had chickens, ducks, cows, pigs, rabbits, bees, turkeys, a stocked pond, a huge garden and of course children and their cats and dogs. We ate good but not much money was to be had. Folks expect you to deliver the eggs and want them cheaper than store prices. No market for honey or rabbit fryers. The farmers market had more farmers than customers. The kids are grown and I no longer have livestock. It is more work than I care to do when I just have little old me to feed. The fresh meat, milk and eggs were needed when I had a houseful of hungry mouths to feed.
I did the flea market thing with my crocheting and other crafts. Again, no real money there. It was hard to break even on expenses. The Ebay thing did not work out either. I always hear about the great ways to make money but have seen little success for the average entrepreneur. I have gathered wild grapevines and made wreaths. The money from the sales was pure profit but it was not enough to pay bills. That is sad because the only bills I have are electricity and phone. I own my land and my old beat up car. There are no payments to make there. Most of the jobs around here have either gone to Mexico or overseas.
I craft now for fun and don't worry about profit. I garden for pleasure. Money comes from working for someone else. I have a great job. I work 16 hours a week for $12 an hour. It is enough to keep me going and still leave time to garden and such. It is a good life and free from stress. My needs are few and I am not a slave to a 40 hour a week job that is going to disappear anyway. I have time to enjoy living.
Yes, that is what it is all about. You have to set your priorities and they sometimes need to be reset. With young children in the house the priority is simple. Sometimes we forget that there are time in life when priorities can change. Some of us need the biggest paycheck and newest car. Sometimes, you discover that there are other things that make you happier and do not cost so much. It is the things with the smallest price tags that can bring the most joy. Standing at the edge of the woods and watching a pair of fawns play in the pond like a couple of children with mama standing watch has no price tag. It truly is priceless and never would have happened if I was still working 60 hours a week at a job to pay for a car that would never bring me such joy. I wish good fortune to anyone trying to make a living from the homestead. My advice to everyone is to take time to breathe and enjoy what is around you. I see many people who have forgotten how joy truly feels.
I totally agree. We have never been well off and neither DH nor I came from well off families so we have always known how to make do. When our kids were small we always found ways to enjoy life on a small budget and we continue to do so today. We have horses and trail riding and camping are the most enjoyable things in the world to us. Our 7yo DGS lives with us and I love to see his contented smile as he rides along through the mountains. We are fortunate to have some beautiful state campgrounds very near us and we like to drive over and hike and take pictures. Only costs fuel and a bit of sweat equity. Nothing like the memories we are making.
Just-picked non-polluted veggies, fresh air, peace of mind, time to enjoy nature - things that are not money put directly in a bank account - but priceless!!
Unfortunately, my debt's been rising though because I haven't worked at my normal decent-paying job lately. It's been great to work part-time at a fun job and my health is better - but it will be hard to climb out of debt. I am very sad that I haven't done better with the bootstrapping and I know I just haven't tried hard enough. Need to clear much more garden space and get livestock to help build up the poor soil. Around here (eastern Massachusetts), farmer's markets do wonderfully and are jam-packed with customers, so I know there is opportunity. And with continuing reports of melamine in food from China, I think more people will be eating organic. I keep watching this thread hoping for more ideas!
Kathy, I bet producing your own food helped the bottom line. We also worry about having animals tie us down too much. Have you looked into Etsy for your crafts? Glad you found a happy balance!
It's so good to see people still interested in this thread!
Sounds like we all are doing the same sort of things. So...what skills do we each have for a niche market?
One thing we want to do here is build country style furniture and refurbish old wood furniture with decorative painting. The main barrier we had was lack of a building to work in. DH built a two-car garage/shed earlier this summer and we are finally getting it set up and everything organized. Should be able to get started on some projects next time we get to stay home for a few months.
I also started making some concrete leaf castings yesterday to make up birdbaths and fountains next spring. Got 5 done so far, and have enough concrete mix on hand to make 10 more.
Msrobin, I saw some leaf castings written up in a mag recently - very pretty. Do you feel like showing yours off to us?
yes phicks I am close to the narrows. I think we discussed quite a while ago that you have been up here. Have you been back lately?? I haven't been fishing lately or crabbing or shellfishing, but it's great to know that I can. I get too busy planting/weeding etc. Even though the soil is horrible, it is great that there is food everywhere around me. If I don't get my act together soon I'll be eating tree bark LOL.
Oh wait phicks - I didn't read your question correctly - luckily I don't go to the Narrows restaurant often enough to get very fat. I can get fat pretty well at home ROTFL!
Just forming the leaves now. Wanted to get them done to cure over the winter, so won't paint them till we come back home after the next job. I'll be taking a picture of them though in the next couple of days, that I'll post here. Love the leaves that other DG members are doing!
Since I am just now in the process of trying to sell two properties to buy my dream farm, I'm not an expert on farm businesses. But I did live way out in the boonies for almost 20 years before moving back to town, and from what I saw it was not easy making money on a small farm. My experience with trying to sell vegies was that in the country, most people grow their own stuff and don't need to buy yours (we would drive 45 miles to the nearest town of 10,000 people and try to sell vegies on the square). We did have success growing and selling dried flowers wholesale to the floral industry. We had the garden disked twice/year and then kept it cultivated with a horse and had an old mobile home that we put black plastic over the windows, strung wire back and forth across the ceiling to hang flowers to dry without fading . I kept track of hours spent vs. sales and it came to about $5/hr - this was almost 20 years ago, so not too bad! My plan nowadays is to work for H&R Block during tax season and hopefully make enough to keep me the rest of the year. This is my 2nd year - we'll see how it goes. There are some tax preparers that make $20,000 - $30,000/yr for 4 month's work, but they have a large, loyal client base. But I'm hoping.
Update: Well, we're starting a CSA this spring. We're about 50 miles from 2 different cities. One has no CSAs (also no farmers market that I can find), the other has 1. Figured we're in a prime location. Will also be growing cut flowers and ornamental plants, bushes and trees. Still shooting to make enough to live on without having to travel for work.
You can list free on that website. They say they get approximately 8,000 hits a month. If someone is familar with CSAs and do a search, they'll find Local Harvest on the first search page. I got my first contact through them. The people I have discussed this with, were doing farmers markets in the beginning to build a customer base and some still do. Everything I have read regarding CSAs say they generally start with just a few the first year to learn the ropes and by word of mouth get bigger each year, with many of them having waiting lists every year. There's some larger ones in the Louisville area that have 80-100 customers. I figured with 35, we'd be in great shape and DH would be able to quit working.
Seems to me the biggest pitfall and why people fail doing this, is because they don't plant enough, nor enough variety to keep the customers happy.
We don't have farm equipment to plant farm-style, so I'm planting more garden-style, wide rows, intensive planting, using weed blocker paper or plastic, with soaker hoses under that. Planning on keeping the weeding and watering on a manageable level, since I'll be doing this by myself until DH can return home.
I hope you keep us updated on your CSA plans and experiences! We have a very vibrant, active farmer's market here in Fayetteville, but their prices are astronomical - I wouldn't call it collusion/price-fixing, but I don't know what else you'd call it. You can actually buy organic vegies shipped from CA at our local health food store for cheaper. And no one provides bulk vegies for someone who might want to can or freeze. So, I'm always interested in CSA's.
I hear you, Lwolf. I'd love to support local ag, but the prices! If it's close, we'll buy, but otherwise it's off to Natural Grocers for us... we try to live within our means and a potato is a potato, regardless.
Let's hear it for the rich folks! =0) Sustainable ag's last great hope.
I think that what we see in Local Ag is closer to the *actual* cost of food grown well, sustainably and organically and possibly *gasp* even allows the farmer to make a subsistence living. It may even possibly be done without imported or illegal workers. If we remove the subsidies, the illegal or underpaid workers, and move towards smaller, sustainable farming, then our food costs naturally will go up. On the average, .18 a lb is what the farmer actually sees from big ag farming products that are sold at grocery stores. Economies of scale are part of it, but who wants your food to be treated like widgets???
Dh feels much the way ya'll do; but I can tell you from just starting to prep beds and putting in some perennial plantings, that it costs substantially (and with my free labor costs not calculated), to sustainably and organically grow your food. I think in the long run, it will still be cheaper than buying organic food at the stores, and I will know for sure what went into it. I'll know I'm not eating out of season (but boy, those tomatoes sure are tempting...LOL!), and I won't be contributing to long distance food trafficking, reams and reams of packaging, or the sometimes unethical underpinnings of farm labor. Plus, I want to be able to feed us if need be, with a li'l practice before it possibly becomes necessary :)
We here in America are very spoiled to ridiculously low food prices, that don't properly reflect the true cost of real food. Heck, most of us aren't even used to real food any more. I know it is taking me quite some time to break myself of some food habits, and others I've not even tried to give up (like, say, chocolate and coffee!) It's hard, and I am just trying to seek a balance that I can live with.
You're certainly right about the true cost of food - I guess I just dream and hope that the organic food I get at our local store (from California) is truly organic. But, you're right - it probably doesn't reflect the costs of a smaller farmer.
So true. Unfortunately, the first two years I lived in Fayetteville, I couldn't afford anything but WalMart. Since then I've been able to move up to the health food store (quite a leap in cost, but well worth it if you can afford it - our Ozark Natural Foods has some of the best greens ever!). Someday I'll be able to afford the farmer's market. Luckily, I do manage to grow most of the vegies I need, but I go anyway just to enjoy the wares and people!
We don't have any natural market and our farmer's market is small and sporadic. That is why I need to grow my own. I have a couple of friends who have bigger gardens than me and I am going to ask them for a row in their gardens so I can grow my corn, okra and sunflowers. In return I can give them plants they can't get elsewhere.
Our best local farmer's market is nearly 20 miles away but selection is much better than the new one in my town that opened this past summer. Of course, the prices are cheaper here in the new town market vs. the better market in an upscale town (more-or-less upscale, LOL). I wanted to sell at the better market, but Life has gotten in the way...
Now at age 68, I'm needing looking for a part-time position for supplemental income, first time I've had to look in about 20 years. I had my own small home-renovation business before, but now I have a hard time swinging a hammer.
I've been sitting here trying to formulate what I want to say, but the words just aren't coming together. I've got "Little House on The Prairie" running through my head and how they lived in the old days...LOL! I don't have it in me to do the chores the actors did on that tv show. The work of real life settlers would do me in for sure!
We have become a society where we just buy what we want or need ready made. We keep going into debt, whether we finance those items or pay cash. We have allowed ourselves to become a "want more/need more" society, where we now have to have jobs to pay for those things.
A lot of us here are really working toward a more sustainable lifestyle, ie: saving our natural resources (which saves some of our utility costs), growing our own food (which is much healthier, but also cheaper than store bought), etc. I have learned a lot on DG about things I can do to save money and cut expences on the homefront. But as far as organic foods being so expensive, I think as we get beyond bringing our garden soil back to life, grow our food organically and save seeds for future use, that we'll find in the end the cost of growing organic food will be much cheaper than food grown with the traditional methods being used now.
It would be nice if we could get back to a time where people had a skill or service that they could provide from home to sell or trade with others nearby.
It's nice to think about all the wonderful long range benefits of sustainable ag, but there's a lot of folks around here that struggle to put any food on their table, WalMart or otherwise. We have a small farmer's market here, but I can get the same thing for much cheaper if I go to the flea market and buy what folks are offering from their garden surplus. They don't have membership and marketing fees to pay, they aren't trying to make a living from their garden.
Yes, of course we're not paying the 'real' cost of industrial foods. There's an excellent discussion of the externalities of modern ag in 'The Compassionate Carnivore'. Our whole consumer culture is based on more for less and that's what industrially produced food looks like, especially when you're just trying to pay your bills. As Lwolf said, "I couldn't afford..." and that's the situation for many, many folks.
So how to redress that? If I try to produce a large amount of a single crop, organically, sustainably, will I be able to realize economies of scale and provide good, healthy staples at a more affordable price?
Do I restrict myself to corn, potatoes, and zucchini? Would that work? Because it's not just about sustainable on my farm, it's about sustaining the community, too. And dealing with the fact that they are not wealthy folks, nor are they soup kitchen folks, they are folks just trying to get by, just like me.
As far as developing countries subsidizing food, yes that is true for the staple crop (rice, wheat, corn) but not the rest of the fresh produce.
Trading work was the way they got the big jobs done. Folks would get together for butcherings, haying, barn and house raisings, ect. You seldom find that kind of community sharing anymore and we are the poorer for it.
Do you think you might be able to do some consulting work? You have a vast knowledge of many subjects. Surely there is somebody who would be willing to pay for that knowledge.
Jay, you said "Our whole consumer culture is based on more for less and that's what industrially produced food looks like, especially when you're just trying to pay your bills". That's kind of where I was going with my ramblings. As a society, we have "bought in" to the idea that more/bigger is better, and businesses are marketing to those desires. In reality, we are now over-eating, over-spending and not even on great products. I, for one, am tired of trying to keep up. I just want to live a simple life, eat healthy food and not have the stress of trying to maintain all those things we don't really need to begin with.
So, Jay, Do you have something in mind or doing something already to generate an income from home?
No, I'm afraid I haven't got any answers for you. =0( I posted what I knew about generating income while staying on the place, and it wasn't farm based, it is service based... accounting, editing, etc.
That has its advantages... if you loose your cow, well that's unfortunate, but it's not the mortgage. If you're relying on a crop or livestock and it fails, there goes the farm... You'll still be able to enjoy the health and benefits of raising your own food, probably have surplus to share or sell, but you won't be so financially dependent on the vagaries of weather, disease, and pests. That's why those old pioneers always looked so haggard... keeping the farm depended on the crop.
Even if you and I step out of mainstream, it's mainstream we'll still be making our money from, so somehow we still have to plug into that. Unless you're able to go with the quality angle, which is basically playing to the wealthy and those with sufficient income to be able to pay for something beyond basics. For the bulk of our fellow citizens, organic is still on the indulgence level, unfortunate as that is. And I'm not even considering sustainable, I'm just thinking labeled 'organic'... which is a whole 'nother ball of tar.
That's why I say Hooray for the wealthy, sustainable ag's best hope.
Caj, trading knowledge, like Jay says, falls in the Service area. One problem I see is that many of us who are leaving (or have left) mainstream and big city life for a quieter and more simplified rural life have knowledge that our surrounding folks don't much need or want.
For example: I am a whiz at helping someone design and build a passive solar home. That's not a skill my country neighbors seek when they are just getting by. The market for that skill is in the big cities for folks living there who want to abandon city life for the same reasons we did. They are the ones with deeper pockets than my neighbors.
The first time I made the move from city to rural, I was prepared enough that I already had some land, and quite a tidy stash of cash to promote my lofty ideals. I soon found city/money mentality was very deep in my internal system... when we decided to show horses and needed boots, only the best would do. In reality, a decent pair of $100 boots would have been just fine, but noooo... we had to have $450 boots (1980 prices). So the cash stash evaporated quickly and I had no marketable skills for the area. We lost the farm and our investment after just 3 years.
So it was back to the city where my city/money self was again "safe" and I succumbed to the mores of the day. I still didn't plan properly, and when retirement came (along with no savings because the company I worked for went belly-up) it was a big surprise. Now I have learned LOTS MORE about country life sustainability, other than the economics of it. If I could just take my age/health out of the equation it would be much simpler.
An example of that is the 15+ acres we have of trees. Those trees, properly managed, would be a sustainable supply of firewood. I can no longer fell trees, nor split firewood... nor have access to a mule or horse to snake the trees downhill. So some of my money goes to pay for firewood to be delivered. I can't even trade my trees because no one who does firewood anymore has a mule to bring the trees down. They prefer instead to drive their truck(s) to the trees, not possible on this property.
The old-time barn-raising ethic is strong among my DG friends here. Several volunteered to come for a week last year to pitch in... but gas went sky-high so travel for "fun" was not possible. This year many of them are or will be out of work, thus will have the time, but now have no means.
Darius' situation reminds me... just how physical this whole proposition is, and how tenuous that can be. Even a month down, recovering from some sort of break or surgery can throw the balance out of whack for a long time.
One of the people who makes her living from her home is actually wheel-chair bound due to auto wreck decades ago. She makes her money accounting, and raises much of her own fresh produce. Last year she was hit with a rare acute leukemia. She's survived the chemo, and is gradually recovering, but she's going to be able to do accounting work long before she'll be able to do the physical work of growing her own food again.
It seems like something less physical might be a good thing to develop, be it bookwork or craft. Then if you have to have rotater cuff surgery, you've still got money coming in.
There's also a woman around here makes custom drapes out of her home.
Also knew someone who rebuilt alternators, but I don't suppose one can do that anymore... do modern cars have alternators?
Not everyone has marketable skills to provide a service from home, so yes, some will find it tough to make a living from home. And yes, a lot of things that are produced on the home front would be geared more for those with deep pockets. In our case, we are working toward becoming as debt free as possible, so we don't need so much money to make ends meet. But I don't see us giving up the satelite tv, cell phones and internet, so have to make enough to cover our basic expences, plus those listed. We're still planning on a market garden, farm animals, chickens, eggs, rabbits, craft items, decorative painted furniture and handmade country furniture. I know no one thing will provide the income we need, but I feel a good mix ideas/projects should come pretty close.
There was an article in Small Farmer's Journal a while back about Sweet Well Farms (?) and their philosophy. They looked around their neighborhood and actually went from door to door and asked what folks needed, what they could pay and that's what they produce. Of course, the neighborhood isn't large enough to support a grade A dairy, but they produce eggs, chicken, fresh produce, hay, contract beef.
I think if we look at our communities, and ask around, we can find out what's needed. Surprisingly enough, here there is a need for housekeeping... we have a large elderly population and the extended families are all working full time jobs, or several part time jobs. Good wage for part time work; last I heard was $12/hr. Hospice may be another avenue, I don't know. And as Darius used to do... small construction.
These aren't on-farm, but they are in demand here and pay decent.
Another person I know actually edits cookbooks while home caring for her dying husband. I get my hair cut by a neighbor who has her shop in her house.
I'm actually amazed how many folks I know who are working out of their homes; I had no idea.
Maybe some of this has given you ideas, Darius? Hate to see you stuck behind the counter at the Circle K. }=0P
I think that's how one of my friends ended up keeping books... she's not a CPA or anything, just had some friends who hated justifying their checkbooks and logging expenses. She just does simple stuff, but it helps with the cash flow.
I've picked up a few extra bucks filing as a temp...
Just gotta stay flexible and keep those ears open!
Another friend cooks meals a couple of times a week for folks.
Does anyone I know have a 'regular' job? LOL
Well, we shifted to remote service providers, I work for a VoIP telco support company and DH is a remote network admin on contract - both tied to the city money :) It also requires HS internet and reliable electricity, as well as current technology in our machines.
Neither of us have any marketable skills for the rural economy at this time. I'd like to learn some as plan B (and C and D...), but at this time I'm busy enough as it is learning how to be sustainable myself! The shortened winter days really leave me with no time to do anything other than plan the garden, figure out a pasture plan and try to design a chicken coop and tractor, in addition to caring for the three dogs and barn cat, plus unpacking. Nine hours a day on the computer leaves me not wanting to surf much, so I read a lot instead when I have a spare 30 minutes (heh!)
There are reputable on-line jobs, but they are hard to find and all require DSL or higher speed internet services that aren't always available in the rural areas as of yet. This has driven our moves each time, as we get further out into the country - internet access. Weird eh? We both keep our eyes on alternate income possibilities and additional contract work, but I also have to leave time to work the land and animals as we acquire them. It's a very tough balancing act, one that we're striving hard to find. Yet we press on!
Is satelite internet good enough for your jobs? That's all that's available in the woods around here. I'm not real computer literate, but isn't satelite fast download, but very slow upload? If so, I can see that would make doing business hard.
Hey, Miss H, glad to see you here again! (Wrote that after your last post, but it didn't go through)
I don't think we have DSL available at home either. Been a couple of years since I checked into it, though. I spent a week with Hineni in October...it takes A LOT of self-disipline to do what she does. I'm afraid I would get easily side-tracked.
Howdy MsRobin :) Robin got to see the not-so-glamorous side of working from home. It's basically like wearing a leash for 9 hours...haha! But I gladly choose it any day over commuting, having to buy/prepare box lunches, the inane office politics, costs of clothing and make up and whatnot. And no, we do not all work in our pajamas - that is a very popular misconception...LOL! (although I must confess, at least two of my work associates who are also home workers HAVE stated they were working in their jammies during conference calls - maybe I am an anomaly?)
Luanne - You're more savvy than most, if you understand that the upload speed impacts working from home as opposed to say, surfing the 'net :) My employer will not accept satellite connectivity due to its instability during inclement weather, and the lack of sufficient upload speed is prohibitive from what we've found. Other work-at-home jobs that require high speed internet access don't allow it either, from what I've seen in the limited exploring that I have done. Cable, DSL and some forms of Aircards have been acceptable in things I've looked at.
Jay - yep, if it were simply for surfing, I'd have to pass on the expense too. My employer picks up a portion of the cost of my service.
We've got an aircard, aka wireless internet, I think. Got it through our cell phone company, runs $60 a month, but we can take it anywhere when we are traveling for work. Unfortunately, the signal isn't that great for us. A friend has a different company here in AR and her signal is much stronger, so pages load much faster.
Very interesting - Talking about computers on a homesteading forum! Whatever it takes to stay in the country! This is like the shock I experienced when I first moved to the country 30 years ago and discovered you have to have a vehicle if you want to live in the country! How ironic. I'll have to look into the aircard thing - if it's the same reception as a cell phone, forget it. I just gave up my cell phone, I was so tired of the terrible reception and dropped calls - and that's in a town of 70,000!
Consider opening some kind of online business, esp. as a merchant. I lived in an area that had no cell service, no DSL, no cable, just dialup, for some years and kept my strictly online business going in spite of that. Even if you don't think you have any skills, there are lots of things you can sell, especially things you can make. IME, the key is to find a niche, something that you know would never keep you afloat if you had a brick-and-mortar store in your town and had to depend on walk-in trade but where you will find sufficient customers when you have an entire nation to sell to. It does take time and it takes a lot of trial and error, but if I could do it, coming out of academia and knowing nothing whatsoever about building a website or shopping carts or running a business, having $35 in starting capital, then so can other people. It demands the same qualities that homesteading does--independence of spirit, toughness, willingness to risk, ability to work hard, intelligence, analytical ability, being satisfied with low pay for massive amounts of work but high enjoyment, and most of all, the determination of a mule. I tried at first to be like everyone else I saw who was selling similar things online, but I realized that without the volume, I could never hope to get the lowest prices. So I asked myself, what can I do that no one else can do? When you have that, you don't have to compete on price. Then you have to learn how to market that to people, to get them to want what you and only you have: "capitalism creates a need and fills it."
I grow food for myself, I am frugal, I preserve stuff, have bulk stores of food, and I even practice a certain level of plainness in dress and living, but my real homestead is in my brain and my skills, the things I make and grow and sell online. To my mind, this kind of artisanal skill is right in line with the tradition of homesteading--the very skilled village craftsman who can do one thing very well. And who also has a truck garden.:)
Paracelsus, sounds wonderful. I've tried a couple of things in online marketing. but just lack the computer skills and lack of creative ideas for items to sell. Although after reading your post, that sounds too much like an excuse on my part. I have looked into some things and bought the startup programs for some ideas, but always lack the time or money to do something with it. DH has been telling me for years to take some computer classes, but I don't even know where to start.
If you break it down into small steps, it is less intimidating:
Decide what you might want to sell. Remember to price whatever it is so you can make a living. None of this two-dollar-an-hour stuff. If it is going to be higher priced than whatever else is out there, you have to explain to the customer why it is worth having. And that means you have to believe that yourself. It's important to build your self-esteem.
Get a domain name and a business license from your county (a dba), which will allow you to open a checking account in your business's name.
Get a webhost for the domain. I pay a lot for my webhost--$18/mo. Lots of people pay less than $10/mo.
Get a WYSIWYG HTML editor (lots of free ones out there) to design the site and put it up. You don't need to know any code for WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). These things are tough to learn, but you don't need a very sophisticated site. I started out with a three-page site. Google is more likely to include multiple-page sites in its results, and we all know how important Google is.:) People like to know how a thing is made, how the quality is built in, so show it. The more text you have on a site, the more likely it is for it to turn up in search results.
Decide how you will take payment. I started out with an order form people could print out and then mail in with a check, but nowadays it is easy to start out taking Paypal. They explain how to do it on their site.
Once you get some business, get a credit card processor. Your income will greatly multiply. You can usually get one by paying a fee of $100 or less if you are selling a tangible object instead of a service.
Don't forget to make quarterly tax payments. The IRS is just starting to focus on online businesses.
My first year online, I grossed $450 from mail-in payments with my three-page site (16 products). The second year I started taking Paypal, expanded the site to about 20 pages (about 20 products), and grossed $4000. The third year I had about 100 pages (about 1 product per page) and started taking credit cards and grossed $35,000, with a net income of about $12,000, which was just enough for me to live on. I quit my other business, at which I made a lot more but was doing something I was sick to death of. I have grown quite a bit since then, no evil eye.
There are no easy riches online. I still net less than the average income in my state and I get no benefits, but I wouldn't trade what I do for anything. I love being able to work at home, do what I care about, answer to no one but myself, play with my cats or go outside and work in the garden whenever the weather permits, just take the phone with me. Of course, no one is responsible but myself if I screw up. That is the frightening part. I think a lot of people find that hard to deal with, but it seems to me that if you are interested in homesteading, you are already trying to deal with the concept of being responsible for your own well being. The difference is that with an online business (or if you are selling in a farmer's market, a CSA, or whatever), you also are dependent on the will of the public.
It is nice to be able to sell something that is tied to growing, since that is what we are all here on this site for. I do this, but I also make things and sell goods that I buy wholesale. I also know people who sell services. One woman I know writes up biographies for people, for example.
You're very welcome, summerkid! I am always willing to share this knowledge. I really feel that more people could make a happy living for themselves online and live a homesteading life. An online business is just perfect for rural areas, because you don't need any local public and the cost of living is so much lower.
I just discovered a site called etsy.com - it's a site where people can sell things that they make. ONLY handmade items are sold on this site. You do pay a fee to post your stuff, but there's lots of traffic and you don't need your own website.