Homesteading can be a wonderful but time-consuming adventure. A fully functioning homestead often needs one or both spouses working at it full time. My husband and I both work off of the homestead varying hours which creates a whole other level of stress, and if we are being honest, limits the amount of projects we can pursue right now. Another honest confession, I enjoy the thrill of the hunt and saving money from thrift shops and searching sales. We always buy used vehicles and I LOVE a good deal (I’m looking at you Craig’s List!), but I don’t think I’m a true frugal at heart. I love saving money but there are also some expensive things I really enjoy. And these things cost money! If you need more money, you either have to save it or make it. Therefore, if I’m ever to be at the homestead full time, I have to make it productive. There are a number of ways to make money on a homestead that will allow you to live the life you dream about.
As you look at this list you may be thinking that most of these ventures will not bring in large sums of money. This is certainly true. You probably won’t have a full income off of selling chicken eggs, but the key is choosing a combination of profitable activities that will allow you to have a decent income. The diversification of your income is a really important step for self-sufficiency and resiliency, since you can adjust if one or two income streams have a ‘bad’ year. To use a farm analogy, “You shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket!” Be sure to do more due diligence research on anything of interest. Selling can be as easy as listing an ad in your local Craigslist, setting out a cute sign on certain days, opening a Square account, and taking the payment right on your smartphone. Don’t forget to add and collect local and state taxes as well. Did I mention doing more due diligence research?
* Poultry *
Raise chickens to sell the eggs – Even with a small flock, selling your extra eggs may at least help you cover feed and shavings for your chickens, making them self-sustaining rather than a drain on finances.
Have an “adoption” program – This would be like the zoo programs, where contributors get a designated chicken to name, a certificate and a certain amount of eggs they are allocated.
Raise ducks for eggs – Duck eggs are a popular commodity in some ethnic cuisines, so your farm may be a valuable source for these otherwise hard-to-find eggs.
Raise quail for eggs – These can be especially nice if you have limited space to dedicate to the birds. Quail eggs are smaller, usually about a 3:1 ratio in volume to a chicken egg, but are considered a delicacy.
Raise meat chickens – Be sure to check local regulations for selling meat- you may only be able to sell the bird alive for the buyer to process themselves or take to a processor. It’s possible you won’t be able to sell the meat in a packaged form without a license.
Raise quail for meat – Much like the eggs, quail is considered a delicacy, though it can take more birds to make up a meal as they are smaller in size than a chicken.
Raise turkey for meat – Very useful if you time it properly for Thanksgiving business.
Breed chickens and sell the day old chicks – If you want to see how popular the chick business is, drop by your local Tractor Supply Company or area feed store in the spring. It is ‘chick fever’ everywhere. Chicks are in demand and make nice Easter additions (when done intelligently) to a post-winter homestead.
Breed chickens and sell layers that are just starting to lay for a higher premium than chicks – Time is money, and healthy happy hens at the peak of laying are worth top dollar over ones a few years old who are only popping out one egg a week.
Sell fertilized chicken eggs for people to hatch themselves – Similar thought process above, and maybe even a local school might be interested for basic care and monitoring as a classroom experiment. And could even return them to you to sell!
* Other Livestock *
Raise goats for milk or cheese – I definitely differ from lots of homesteaders in that I think dairy should be pasteurized
Make goat milk soaps
Raise goats for meat
Sell stud services for goats, cattle or other animals if you have a good male
Raise cattle to sell for meat – You can even ‘share’ a steer that is going to the freezer with someone if this helps to offset the cost of raising it.
Raise cattle to sell for breeding stock – Unique breeds may provide more opportunity, but may also be more expensive to start.
Keep top bar bee hives for honey
Make and sell beeswax candles
Raise and sell pastured pork
Raise and sell lambs for meat
Raise and sell fish – there is a whole world of aquaponics and aquaculture to delve into for more on this, or just stick some in-demand tilapia in a tank. The Suburban Steader has some great information and photos about aquaponics and he’s in the suburbs!
Board animals for other people – This could mean small animals like dogs for those traveling or large animals such as alpacas for those who do not yet have their homestead. Short-term and long-term options are possible here, but use contracts on the latter.
Manure for gardening – Animals such as rabbits and alpacas have manure that can be applied directly to gardens without worry of ‘burning’ plants, but other manure can be sold as-is or composted and sold at higher markup.
Raise and sell worms – These can be for composting to make vermicompost, to apply directly into the garden or to use as fishing bait.
* Fiber Animals *
One advantage to the fiber animals is being livestock you don’t have to kill to harvest your product, which may make this a more desirable option for some people.
Raise alpacas, Angora rabbits, Angora goats, or sheep for fiber or breeding stock
Sell raw fiber for spinners
Spin (or have it made into yarn) to sell
Teach spinning classes
Create a fiber co-op – Members buy-in and get a designated amount of the fleece harvest each year.
Sell end products such as rugs, horse blankets, pillows, or clothing
Roving can also be sold for art projects
Create your own felted art to sell
* Gardening *
Sell extra produce at a local stand or farmer’s market
Plant a small orchard for fruit to sell – Don’t forget that you can create a food forest by planting an understory to a fruit tree canopy too, increasing the productive square footage of your garden.
Grow microgreens to sell – You can even do this inside in a spare bedroom. Niche market foods can also be marketed to local restaurants, not just the farmer’s market.
Create a co-op to deliver rotating fresh vegetables and or fruit to people – Members buy-in and get a designated amount of the fruit and veg harvest each year.
Harvest seeds to sell – This is especially if you have unique heirloom varieties. Don’t forget eBay as a marketing tool for these type of products. You seriously can get almost anything on eBay!
Sprout seedlings in the winter to sell in the spring
Root plants from cuttings to sell
Create a U-pick farm for people to come and harvest their own produce – have a scale and sell fruits and veg by the pound.
Grow sunflower fields for photo ops or sell as fresh flowers
Grow lavender to sell dried – Just imagine fields of lavender and the aroma
Make lavender soap or other products – Yep, see above.
Grow mushrooms to sell
Bale and sell hay from your pasture – This is a common way for many to utilize their land by overseeding it and growing coastal bermuda or orchard grass.
Rent your pasture if you have more than you can care for right now – Renting for someone to use with their livestock is a great way to utilize the extra space if you have some and they don’t. You could allow a dreaming farmer stuck in suburbia to be ranching cattle in your back pasture, and you get to enjoy the visual of it. Win-win.
Sell firewood – If you have an overly-dense forested property, chopping down excess trees, using a log splitter, and selling your timber can be a great way to build a side hustle. After you stock as much as you need to get you and your family through a harsh winter first. Re-plant what you chop down to start growing new trees that can be harvested in several more years again to make this a sustainable thing over time.
* Agro-Tourism *
Create a pumpkin patch so families can come through, plus other activities such as a corn maze – You can even buy the pumpkins to re-sell if you have enough other activities to make a profit.
Create a Christmas tree farm – Another one where you don’t even have to grow the trees but could have shipped in to sell. There is less profit but it does allow a faster start to the process.
Rent out an extra house or build a tiny home to serve as an AirBNB property – An ideal retreat for people to get away for a weekend and experience farm life.
Rent your property for events such as weddings or family reunions – If you’ve got a gorgeous view or a great barn, this can be a fun way to earn some extra cash.
Offer tours of your farm, and make sure people exit through the gift shop so you can show off your wares – Works for every other tourist destination you visit, so take heed.
* Food and Baking *
This is definitely one where you want to check your states food and cottage food laws to prevent any legal mishaps.
Sell extra canned goods from your garden – Did you have a boatload of tomatoes this year? Share the wealth and make a little extra wealth for you!
Use extra fruit to make jellies and jams to sell – A great basic recipe could be used or venturing into unique or more uncommon varieties can give you a niche market
Sell dehydrated foods
Sell baked goods
Roast and sell coffee – Holler Roast Coffee is a great example of this model.
* Unique Talents *
Provide hay baling, tilling, or other jobs with your tractor for locals – What tools do you have that could help others?
Sell woodworking projects
Sell pottery – You should check out Imaginacres for some seriously cute homestead inspired examples.
Sell other artwork – If you are good with metal or woodworking, some farmer’s markets allow other products that can be sold with your produce or you can sell at craft fairs or Etsy.
Be a homestead farm sitter for other traveling homesteaders – If you have the time, there are plenty of farmers and ranchers saddled with the inability to easily or safely take-off on a vacation or even for a family emergency out of town. Competent and trustworthy hands are needed in your area.
Utilize your pre-homesteading life skills to teach a homeschool course – English, math, science, history, and more. If you have a deep understanding of an area, teaching a class or acting as a tutor can prove valuable for local homeschoolers.
Teach classes on the farm if you have special farm skills – Similar to the above, but with what you know and use today.
Be a consultant – If you are good at training animals or training people to interact with animals such as the CAMELIDDynamics consultants, you can utilize your skills to teach others, or offer unique Permaculture design consulting if you take a PDC course.
Create an online class to teach homesteading skills
Write a book – This doesn’t even have to be a traditional bound book. E-books are easier and offer immediate access for the consumer and are a great way to self-publish and share the information you have to teach others.
Create your own blog – Just because you are on a farm doesn’t mean all your income has to come from the dirt or an animal. There are many great resources for new bloggers and my favorite is the Billionaire Blog Club. If you’ve ever entertained the idea of starting a blog you need this group! Unlike many blogging resources that have you pay for separate courses the BBC is a lifetime membership so any new courses that are developed are yours at no extra charge. You also have access to the Slack group of other bloggers and Scrivs (the creator extrodinaire of BBC) who can help you with blogging problems, celebrate your victories, and offer the motivation that keeps you going day after day.
Build websites for other people – Once you build a WordPress site and come to understand all of its nuances from installation to customization plus some photo editing tools, you have a great skill that others may not have the time or wherewithal to figure out themselves but still need for their business or online presence. Do it again for income!