Again, I’ve been reading and got inspired to change a bad habit that I have. I have been reading Joel Salatin’s You Can Farm and he dedicated almost an entire chapter to an idea like my early post “Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Right“. This time, when he talked about it, it related to farmers and the need for land. He said his #1 response to “why don’t you farm now?” is “I don’t have the land/equipment to do it”. According to Joel Salatin and many of his friends who have succeeded without land, it’s completely possible.
Throughout the chapter he destroyed the belief that one must know and have everything before starting a project. I totally agree with him (though I wouldn’t have a few weeks ago). Therefore, I’ve decided to take our plans by the reins and force them into action.
Justin and I sat down last night and really hashed out some of our plans. Since Justin works full time from home, I usually can’t catch him in a good mood or wide awake to talk about such things. Last night, after he napped until 10pm, we talked. We ended up staying up until 4am, but that’s alright. I don’t mind.
We decided to really get our plans in order and figure out what we’re going to do with this homestead business. I have been sort of running it myself over the summer and running out of steam because I was a bit overwhelmed. Now that things have calmed down, we have time to look around, see mistakes and start working on them for next year. We also have time to get some projects in the works over the winter.
First, we decided our goal was not to make the homestead make money, at least at first. Our #1 priority is destroying our grocery bill. Any excess we have can be sold for extra cash, but the first ones in line are us.
Second, we decided that in order to influence our grocery bills the most, we need a couple critters. The quails are a good start, but chickens, goats and bees are also on that list.
Thirdly we separated some things out. Justin doesn’t really care for plants, so I’ll take care of the veggie growing. I don’t really want to muck out a chicken coop, so that’s on Justin. This way we can have our own respective jobs while still helping each other.
Current Projects/Short-term Plans:
Quails: The quails are already in motion (as you know) and incubating in the back room. These birds will be our first livestock that will give us eggs and meat. The other possibility, if I can create some hype, is to make them profitable through egg selling. I will be offering hatching eggs here on the blog while also selling eating eggs at the farmer’s market next spring. Since quail eggs are a little exotic, they fetch a better price and help us pay for future projects.
Chickens: This, I’m happy to say, is in the works as of today. I have made a purchase of hatching eggs that will be here by the end of the month. I’ll update on it later of course! The chickens will be moved into the garage for the first winter, then out into the yard, possibly to be move around in a dog kennel. Plans aren’t in stone yet, but they will be coming. This way they will be ready in spring to produce eggs for the farmer’s market and for my baking business. With the prices of eggs right now, it will be a huge benefit to the bakery.
Raised Bed Garden: We will be converting to a raised bed system slowly. I’m hoping to put in 10 beds by spring, but I will be happy with 5. Raised beds allow me to keep the garden a bit more tidy and uniform. I would love to have a wild looking garden, but the problem is the weeds and grass here. With the raised beds I can contain where the compost is spread, I can put a chicken coop over it and I can mow the grass close to the beds without running over plants. It’s a bit expensive, but it’s worth it. We also have a small hill on the property that needs to go, so we don’t have to buy dirt to fill them.
Crafts/Herbal Soaps and Salves: This is something I’m going to work on this winter. I have a lot of herbs coming in that will be hung up to dry soon. I’m hoping to turn most of them into salves and creams to sell. Right now we have a Calendula cream that has completely gotten rid of Justin’s acne blemishes on his back. It took a month to get rid of years worth of scarring, it was amazing. I’m working on producing a few jars right now to list on our Etsy Page. We will also be releasing a line of soaps on Etsy as well, which will be linked back here if you are interested. I may also be making brooms if I can get a good crop of broom corn next year.
Canning Jars: We will be purchasing 1 or 2 dozens of quart jars every month throughout the winter and possibly other sizes as well. This way we don’t run into the problem we had this year. We lost close to 30lbs of tomatoes because we just couldn’t afford the jars to preserve them. That’s not going to happen again. We are going to start stockpiling this winter. We can easily spare $10-$20 a month for jars, so we should do it now and not when we are desperate for them and broke.
Long Term Projects and Plans:
Dairy Goats: We will get these gals eventually, I’m just not sure when. I’ve decided on electric fencing for them and a portable shelter instead of a barn. These critters will have pasture in the tall grass out back and will provide our dairy needs. If we produce too much I’ll turn it into cheese or sell a share of the milk. Either way, it will help us out a lot. These guys will put a larger divot in our grocery bill, but they also require the most feed. For now they are a long-term project, but I do have connections to get the goats.
Farmstand: This is only a reality if we start producing more veggies than we can consume or preserve. For now I’m going to rely on the farmer’s market for excess sales.
$5000 a year: This is a lofty goal and definitely long term, but our goal is to put $5000 in our pockets a year through food production and sales. $2400 could easily come from producing most of our own food. The remaining $2600 would have to come from craft, bakery and food sales. It seems impossible thinking about it, but I think we can accomplish it. If we don’t try, we’ll never know, so we might as well go for it!
As you know, we’re in the process of paying off our new well pump first, but we have some ideas to help us finance these projects.
Online Surveys: Justin and I both do online surveys and can make about $50 a month between the two of us if we are doing well. If we save all this extra cash each month it should be easy enough to cover all our spring seed/plant purchases and get some raised beds made as well.
Craft Sales: Although we’re not selling anything right now, we hope to continue expanding the Etsy shop and maybe make a few sales here and there. This isn’t going to be an income we are dependent on.
Quail Eggs: I’m hoping to have the quails going and producing hatching eggs before January. If anyone is interested in hatching eggs, please let me know. I can easily put you on a list to be first for eggs if everything works out.
Amazon Affiliate: I bolded this because you, my readers, can help with this one. If you have noticed, my recent book reviews have blue highlighted links to the books, which take you to their amazon listing. If you click one of those links everytime you go to make a purchase on amazon, you send us a little bit of amazon’s profit from your sale. You don’t even have to buy the item we linked to. If you can find it in your heart to do this for us, it would be a huge help. This is a way for the blog to bring in income to fund the homestead without direct purchases from us.
Blogging: As mentioned above, we’re starting to include affiliate links on products/books that we approve to help the blog bring in money. (We will never post a product or book with opinions that are not our own). I hope, if possible, to turn the blog over to wordpress.org eventually and monetize the site through a couple ads or links.
Articles: I’m still writing homestead articles for Homestead.org. I’m waiting on approval for another article at the moment. Each article is $100 in our pockets and a huge help.
E-books: We have another e-book in the works right now and plans for a couple more. I’m going to have to get serious about marketing though, it seems to be the only way to sell them. We only make 35¢ a sale and we have to make $100 before they pay us, so we have a ways to go yet.
Paying off Debt:
Justin and I are also looking into ways to pay off more of our debt. At this point, all the extra money makers above only bring in $50-ish a month and usually we need that money to survive to finance projects. With our growing homestead taking care of more of our food stuffs, we can begin putting extra on credit cards and the like.
For now, Justin has agreed to take on my bills to allow me to work on saving money for other projects.
Plan #1: Save all money from the bakery sales for the whole season. Once all the money is in an account at the end of October 2016, I will dump it into a single line of credit to pay it off or close to. All bakery expenses will come out of that account, so only profit will be dumped into a credit line. This will be a fast way to drop one bill without running into issues like I had this year (pay all bills and no money for supplies).
Plan #2: Only pay bills in whole dollar amounts, rounded up to the nearest 10. In this case, I hope to be adding simply $1-$9 on to each credit line to help it get paid off just a bit faster. This may not seem like much, but less principal to gain interest on is always better. This should cost us hardly anything since we do this for a couple bills already.
For now, that’s all we thought of. I have scoured every inch of the internet for money saving tips and I have done literally all of them. The only other thing we’re working on is seeing if we can get rid of a car to get some of the loan knocked off it. We don’t really need two vehicles and it would help a lot.
Those are the plans!
We will continue our way through this monstrosity and try to make all these things happen. Even though we aren’t going to do things perfectly, we’re going to do them. I’m learning not to care about perfection (slowly) and work toward action instead of constant research and observation. Although both are good, they will never help the action if I’m too scared to actually do the action to begin with.
Well, here’s to a successful year and winter! New projects coming up! Hopefully some awesome pictures (if I can get my camera to work again…ugh). Cheers!
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