Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Getting Ahead?

I often get email from young people, mostly, who want to start a homestead farm but also want to "get ahead", make lots of money. They ask what crops they should raise or livestock to keep that are the real moneymakers.

 Whoa, I don't have those kind of answers! In fact, I frequently say that my farm is just barely reaching the point of being self supporting (as long as you don't consider the initial purchase costs). My farm and my efforts produce most of our food. It could be 100% if we had to. My meager sales pays for most of the general supplies to support the farm -- seeds, equipment, gasoline, etc. I mostly trade for things and services when I can. I still need to expand sales in order to cover insurance and taxes, plus any improvements wanted and building maintenance. But considering that I'm still developing and expanding, the farm isn't making a profit. 

As for big moneymakers, I have yet to discover one that I'm capable of pulling off successfully. I have heard of small farms that created successful niche markets, but a lot depends upon having the right markets near by. I've been to a successful fresh herb farm that marketed to high end restaurants and casinos. I've toured a fresh mushroom operation whose main retail sales were to high end restaurants. On Maui there is a lavender farm who markets their lavender in a variety of ways, but who brings in significant income via tourist oriented farm tours. Then there are those small livestock farms who got in on the beginning of some livestock fad and made a profit selling alpacas, boer goats, pot bellied pigs, ostrich eggs, etc. 

In the real world, most money making on a small farm or homestead requires lots of work, hours of dedication, and luck. There is no such thing as listing the money making crops for some young city newcomer to produce and get rich fast. It doesn't work that way. But I often get asked, especially by someone with no farm experience, no land, no money. 

In my own area, a small homestead farm operated without paid employees could provide the owner enough income to pay the bills and live modestly. I believe that diversification is the key here. And avoiding the government overseers. Regretfully government oversight sucks a significant portion of the profits out of a small operation.....or prevents such small home businesses from being able to exist or expand.  

Small commercial style production farms in my area can be modestly profitable, but they require employees and lots of hours of labor, and farm knowledge. None of those farmers are getting rich off their farms. 

So my suggestion to those who want to do something that will make them money? Get a decent paying job and don't spend the money. Compared to homestead farming, being somebody else's employee is far more profitable. And not wasting your hard earned dollars on frivolous entertainment and meaningless stuff will make you wealthier faster. But having said that, my own preference is to be on my own homestead even if it means that I'm classified as poor. 

1 comment:

  1. I second your advice about getting a decent paying job, doing your very best at that job, saving as much as you can, and looking more to being self-reliant than "wealthy". Your homestead is better viewed as your investment to get you through times of real hardship than a quick path to easy money.