Making Your Homestead Pay – Youthful Idealis
Have you ever read My Side of the Mountain? I was in elementary school when I read it. It fired many people’s imagination back in the 70s, when there was a tremendous cultural surge of interest in getting back to the land. In a nutshell, it’s a fictional account of a boy who fleas to the woods with little more than the clothes on his back and manages to live in a hollow tree, staying warm and fed using just his personal ingenuity. When I read that, I was fired up! I wanted to do that! (For part one of this two part series, click this sentence)
Real Homesteading Involves Community
However, over the years, as we (Jerreth, our family and I) learned and experimented with self sufficiency, I realized that stories like My side of the Mountain are just that: stories. Most folk would be satisfied with neither the lifestyle nor lifespan of those who have had to do such a thing. For most of recorded history mankind has lived and functioned in community. This means that no one does everything. Some are much better at something(s) than the rank and file. Each has a complimentary place in the community, In community we all live better. I would hate to have to do everything for myself!
It is Possible to Make Money from Homesteading
So what about making money from homesteading? Well, it can be done. It’s not easy when compared to earning money by working a job. On our best years we’ve made about $5000.00 from the homestead. Some years we have only broken even. That income cost a whole lot of hours of work! However, we homestead for more than money.
Let me say up front: You have to love what you do. At my job, on Fridays, friends frequently ask me if we have any special plans for the weekend. Usually by their standards, we don’t. We’re going to do pretty much what we always do. We’re going to do stuff on the homestead. But you know what? That’s what we love to do! Those hours, spent on the homestead can’t be tallied up the same way as hours at a job. This is a way of life, one which we love.
The Homesteading Lifestyle Enables One to Eat Better
In homesteading, one can eat better. For example, our normal meat is pasture raised. It’s firmer and more flavorful. I understand it’s also more healthy. I’ve had people in a health food store ask if I’d sell them pasture raised chickens. Well, hmmm… no. Why? you might ask. For two reasons: 1) we want to eat them ourselves. And 2) If I asked what they are worth to me, they’d probably not pay it. They’d think I was money grabbing. (Worth = cost of feed and value of time invested, plus consideration of the extreme quality of that meat and practical impossibility of getting it any other way.)
Homesteading Skills Enable One to Live More Economically
Through homesteading one may eat more economically. (Keep in mind, though, eating homegrown chicken will always be more costly than store bought.) We save money in the garden by producing food with low input. We don’t use costly equipment, fertilizers or irrigation. We save money by entertaining ourselves by homesteading. We save money by making delicious meals with homegrown ingredients and by using “life hacks” that are not commonly known in our society. We even save money in the winter by heating and sometimes cooking with wood we cut and process ourselves.
We make some money selling surplus products from the farm. We make some money selling surplus animals. We make some money selling sweet potato slips, etc.
Sometimes we barter with other like minded people. Sometimes we simply share (give) as we see need and we believe the Lord would have us to help.
Through our homesteading lifestyle we do gain a lot of friends and acquaintances. We are richer for this. Not only is it wonderful to have friends. But we often help one another!
Homesteading is a lifestyle of learning. We continually learn how to utilize and develop the resources we have. We learn how to do things better and, oftentimes, more economically. The homesteading lifestyle helps one to gain resiliency.
This is a photo of some purebred Buckeye chicks. In early spring we often hatch these and sell them. We easily paid for a fine incubator by selling chicks and now it’s a nice supplement to our income.