Showing posts with label Homestead Reality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homestead Reality. Show all posts

Farming For Profit: Then Its a Business

Farming for profit can be a hard business model. You need to know farming skills and business skills! But it can be done! #farmingforprofit #homesteader

When the Homesteading Honeymoon is over

A few years ago on Facebook, several of my friends and fellow "livestock/agriculturalists" have been sharing an article called "Quitting Season: Why Farmers Walk Away From Their farms". It is a very well done article about the economic realities that drive individuals out of smallholder farming for profit. It is one of the few articles or blog posts that even touch on the stark brutality of smallholder farming economics.

Farming for Profit is a Business, while Homesteading might not be

It is important at this point for me to clarify my definitions of the difference between, farming for profit, subsistence farming, and hobby farming.
Please understand these are my definitions and you may disagree with them.

  • Farming for profit is a conscious decision to provide the bulk (or at least a major portion of) your income from livestock or some form of agriculture. It is an agribusiness model most likely smack dab in the middle of the US food supply chain. Whether that be raising breeding stock, meat, milk,  eggs, or homegrown plant products for animal feed or human consumption. 
  • Subsistence farming is an all-out attempt to grow the maximum percentage of your nutritional needs. This was our starting goal which you can read about here Investment in the Homestead LifestyleThis can be health, dietary or agenda driven. It requires a conscious realization that whatever your goals that your life requires an income not based on your property(day job, investments, etc). Although in the ideal scenario there are cash flows to offset the cost. Your net feed /grocery store bill goal is that it is at, or under, your pre-farm grocery bill level. 
  • Hobby farming is just that. You may want a few vegetables or meat sources or a great "lifestyle" environment for you and your family. Very often it is an agenda driven moment where the hobby farmer can declare revolutionary independence from the decadence of the food supply chain in between boxes of pasta or Chinese take out. 
farming for profit

Today, unfortunately, all three are blended into a "club" that is growing in popularity, social acceptance call the "Homesteading Movement".  And in some cases, the siren song of "Homesteading" is a scam being perpetrated on the idealistic optimism of would be new small business people by a conglomeration of feel-good magazines and bloggers.
Look I am not trying to be judgmental here. My point is only that before you can know your limitations you need to know who you are. And knowing why you are who you are is the best way to recognize potential bad decisions based on your own emotionalism.

Farming for Profit IS a Business and the same rules apply

 But returning to the subject article. At the end of what I think is a very good article up to that point the author comes to the following conclusion "When farmers call it quits it is not because they have failed—it is because our archaic food and agriculture system has failed them. One thing remains for sure: if, as a society, we don’t prioritize the health, well being, and financial solvency of our farmers, we will lose them by the droves—along with all of their precious resources, talent, and skill—and the kinds of food only a farmer who loves his work can provide." 
It is at this point that the author drops the ball in my opinion. I am sorry but the failure of any business can usually be traced to the preparation, skills, and resources of who stares the owners in the mirror every morning. Notice I said small business. Not small farmers. Because for some reason when you use the term farmer some people think the rules of small business are magically dissipated by some Norman Rockwell image of a "food and agriculture system" that is duty bound to support inefficient or noncompetitive business models.

 For the past 29 years, I have been self-employed in a series of small entrepreneurial start-ups. In each case, I founded or co-founded startup entities. Those businesses include a recreational boat dealership, an event marketing business, a used car dealership/ asset value recovery firm and today our little 38-acre subsistence farm which eventually led to our small farm Meishan Pig Business.

farming for profit

Know Your Competition

Some businesses I ran were mildly successful, and some were successful for a period of time. But some just existed in a constant state of an extended terminal disease! I am not a business genius. I am just a small business survivor.

So how does this relate to the article? It's quite simple. If you are going to walk into a bar and take a swing at the biggest worst dude in the joint you better be ready to get your butt whipped. That is unless you have a weapon, skill or secret invulnerability he doesn't have. Another way to paraphrase this is to suggest that you better make a pretty good sandwich if you are going to open a sandwich shop in between a Panera bread and a Subway. Its gonna take more than Mommy's old world mayonnaise. Because in small business the only unforgivable sin is to run out of money. And your competitors will be more unmerciful than a Mongol hoard when you stumble. As I said earlier the smallholder agricultural model in many cases(including those in the cited article) are within the US food supply chain.
Our U.S. food supply chain is a multi-billion dollar supply chain dominated by very large and very powerful competitors. And they got that way because they supplied the public with EXACTLY what they demanded. Which is:

  1. That is food that is convenient.
  2. Uniform in appearance
  3. Targeted at the lowest common denominator pallet 
  4. Most of all the majority of the public wants low-cost food in relation to the products supplied by smallholders. 

Sad but true... We have "Big Ag" because we demanded "Big Ag". We have "Big Ag" so we can spend more time and money on our I-phone than we do in the kitchen.

Small Farming for Profit can be done!

 So does that mean its a hopeless endeavor? No, but I think the problems with many failed smallholder "farmer" attempts is to ignore the fundamental realities of all small businesses.

The first is you have to be everything. You have to be the CEO, CFO, brand manager, advertising manager, customer service specialist, expediter janitor, laborer and bottle washer. If you are going up against Kroger and Purdue understand they have entire departments to do each function and that function only.  They pay those managers 6 figure plus salaries to do those things. Then give them resources you just can't imagine.

Unless you are very special they are better at each function than you are. They became better at it while crushing other competitors, much larger and much better funded than you. They are the biggest worst dudes in the bar. If you are going to play in this arena you need a niche so specialized, so new or so small as to remain below their radar. If you are raising the same breed of chicken, hog, beef, or commonly available vegetable as the big guys and expect people to pay double because you are nicer to the animal you better be great at branding (Joel Salatin) or have direct access to a demographic nobody else is servicing.

The broiler chicken that can be slaughtered in 6 weeks was developed for the "Big Ag" guys. If you think raising it in a pasture makes you invincible then just look at how many before you have failed. And before you go reaching for your keyboard and tell me how Joel Salatin does it please research how much land, how much equipment and infrastructure he has! How many employees and interns he has and what his revenue from speaking is! Then tell me how you as a small startup compare.

More Product does not always equal more $$

The second fundamental rule of business is that you can't sell at a loss and make it up in volume. In the cited article one farmer realized (well into the endeavor) that he was losing money selling beef. That his ground beef had to go from $8 a pound to $11 a pound. He tried to make the jump in one week. Failure ensued.

In what business do you even begin without a clear cost analysis/product price analysis? Who waits until they are going broke to calculate these things.? Rookie farmers do! Part of the issue in this segment is that for many it is the first foray into a small self-owned business. I can tell you that there are no manuals or feel good magazine articles that come close to capturing the brutal reality of small business for profit.
And rookies, like I did when I was a small business rookie, find out quickly the complexity of accounting, regulations, waste, cost of goods sold, marketing, branding, etc will humble you. If you are competing against the big guys when the realization hits you are already a dead farm walking.

Worse yet farming and the "make money while living your dream" homestead business fairy tales being overly romanticized by a host of feel-good publications are just not accurate. These BUSINESS'S are focused on increased circulation and not reality. Worse yet they breed a plethora of small startups who flood the market with the product below their costs thinking it will all work out if they are "good stewards' etc etc.
My advice to any farmer whose cost analysis puts them at $11 for ground beef or pork(when its $4.99 or less at Kroger )would have been to look at value-added functions for their beef or pork. For example, rather than sell ground pork, sell custom sausage. For a few cents in herbs, you can get dollars more in price. Or just quit it. You cant make it up in volume.

farming for profit
Donkey Milk soap is more profitable than the over-saturated market of goat milk soap for us.

Know Your circumstances and Work that Niche!

If you look carefully and research the "successful" smallholder farms you often see a common thread. Their products are very niche oriented. Microgreens not carrots, Heritage red meat pork not the breeds raised more efficiently in confinement. We choose our 'niche' business to be Meishan Pigs which you can read about how we came to choose them here The Heritage pig breed we had never heard of
But know that niches can have a definite shelf life. Today's trendy rare meat can be tomorrows oversupplied commodity. It can be done but you will make a lot less than your day job for a long time before you make more.
And that brings me to the "Homesteader" make money off the land, doing whatever you want myth". I can't tell you how many times I have heard this scenario'

 "We just bought three acres. Now we are going to raise all of our food and sell livestock so we can quit our jobs and live the good life of an independent farmer."

Really? Well, be advised that its a tougher gig than you think. In most cases, people woefully underestimate the land required, the livestock or crops suited to their land, the cost structure inherent to their business, and the form of indentured servitude a small business owner must endure is lost on the uninitiated. Worse if you try to warn them because then you are being negative. So be it. The hardest thing about good advice is to know when you are getting it.

One Goal at a Time!

So for us, the first goal was the subsistence model. We have progressed over almost 8 seasons of growing 90% of our own food and nutritional production. Our livestock sales contribute to reducing the cost of growing them. It is our chosen path and while its hard work we accept the stress in exchange for the benefits. We do now have our 'dream' homestead! It wasn't easy but once we knew who we were and set goals we got on the right track. You can read about that on this page Building our Dream Homestead
Once we had our first goal accomplished we looked to a niche market to move the farm to a small business model while not sacrificing the other gains we have made. Which we accomplished with our Meishan Pigs. You can take a look at them here if you like on our business website Meishan Pigs. As part of our farm business, we also started a registry for these rare 'niche' pigs A.M.B.A Meishan Breeders And if we fail it will be on us. Not because the "food and agriculture system failed us".

farming for profit
Above all enjoy the journey

Be blessed. And happy homesteading!

Join the Homesteaders Journey

Raising Rabbits for Meat or Fiber or Both

Raising rabbits for meat and fiber works for some, but this is our story of trying to raise meat and then fiber rabbits on our homestead. #raisingrabbits #angorarabbits #homesteader

This is not a super happy, everything wonderful post about raising rabbits for meat or raising angora rabbits for fiber.
It is more about me trying to make something work that wouldn't and why. But they may work for you! When we started out I always found reading homestead articles about what didn't work for a fellow homesteader actually helped me better than reading about why something worked wonderfully sometimes. So here is my homesteaders' journey with rabbits. Trying to raise rabbits for meat, then raising rabbits for both and raising rabbits for fiber. 

Much like the goats, for four years we tried to make meat rabbits work out and we would have just enough success in between the failures to keep us going. Although, not enough pros for us to keep at it.

One of the major problems we had with raising meat rabbits was...well, we just didn't like them... 
The meat was good and has a pretty good nutritional profile, But it was not good enough to put up with all the trouble of raising them! Here's a look at the meat from a nutritional standpoint Nutrition in Rabbit Meat

Reasons we didn't like raising rabbits for meat

The meat rabbits breeds we tried weren't enjoyable to take care of for us. Some were downright mean and would attack my hand if I reached in the cage!
We had problems with mothers not being good mothers! A major issue since unlike a goat I can't easily bottle feed a baby rabbit with much success! We had problems with mothers killing babies.
We had problems collecting the manure... the manure is great for the garden,, but its the urine that's stinky and really makes for lots of work if you're using trays or shoveling up urine soaked manure. The urine will burn plants so it couldn't be directly added either.

Also, we felt like they ate too much for the return on investment! They really go through the pellets and good rabbit pellets aren't cheap! They have very sensitive digestive systems and can be picky eaters. Which makes foraging and growing their food tricky. Though I did go that route for a while honestly I do not have time to devote an hour a day to gathering and growing rabbit food. That didn't make sense to me. I can simply take that hour and grow or gather food to be eaten directly for us.

Slaughtering them wasn't as easy as the youtube videos make it out to be! They kick, scratch and can fight fairly hard. They scream. It was pretty terrible and made me want to be a vegetarian! 
Anyone who's says raising rabbits is easy or cheap to raise has clearly not done the numbers or maybe has no other livestock to compare them too. They are high input, though the right rabbits can also be high output if you have good breeders. Which apparently we never did!

I'm not saying they aren't useful livestock to many people!! They just were not the best choice for us and our personal needs on our homestead.
We don't give up easily and in those four years we tried 4 different breeds of meat rabbits... none lived up to the 'hype' of all we had read in those pretty glossy magazines.
Maybe if we had tried to raise them in tractors on the ground like this homesteader The Elliot Homestead that would have cut the feed cost although then I'd have to worry about moving the heavy tractors all the time so I don't know..

We tend to like animals that can be more independent like Meishan Pigs or Donkeys

New Plan for Raising Rabbits for Fiber or Both!

Then I tried Angora Rabbits! In 2013, I got into farm fiber production (raising it and spinning yarn) with the addition of the dairy sheep I tried (huge fail I might add,, but I was bitten by the fiber bug)
Fiber animals are as much work as a dairy animal and then some really!! For many many reasons, sheep didn't work out here. And neither did cashmere goats or angora goats...nor did alpacas work or llamas! I think the good Lord was trying to tell me something here ❓ Could be...

But late 2013 I got Angora Rabbits. Angora is probably my favorite fibers to crochet and wear.

After much research, I decided I would go for a dual purpose rabbit, French Angora. Raising rabbits for both meat and fiber sounded great! If this worked I wouldn't need to keep the American Blue or NZW or any of the other meat rabbits we had tried and didn't like! It would be perfect,, right!!!?? Right??? Oh... It's always so perfect in my head! 🤣

Angora Rabbits aren't really popular where I live so My very first rabbit was a French/English cross... It was love at first sight!!! I adored this guy. He was so sweet and SOFT! 
I should have just accepted his wonderfulness,, got another English cross and been done... but...
The French Angora is said to be the nicest for fiber and meat.
So when I found some I went wild and bought several! (ok,, I bought way too many!)
 however, they weren't quite as soft as my cross boy and really lacked the sweet temperament of my cross rabbit, which made harvesting the fiber not fun! You will often read how 'relaxing' people find grooming an angora rabbit is, well, it can be... if the rabbit is willing!!!! If the rabbit is not willing I promise its NOT a relaxing experience!!!
...and their ability to be 'plucked' made my life miserable with them! 

raising rabbits for fiber, Angora Rabbits

You see 'pluckable' angora is considered the 'best' because its supposed to spin easier, shed it brings more $ if you're selling it raw to other spinners...sounds nice right?
Problem: when its ready to be plucked you must pluck!.. if you're not there to pluck it for the next couple of days it all falls out and ends up in the stinky urine soaked manure! Not practical for this busy farm girl that has a huge priority for the gardens and other animals to tend too!
So for me, this was NOT the best type of rabbit!
This frustration was totally un-necessary for me to deal with.

The one thing French Angoras did well was making money! Their babies sold easily for high prices, unlike the meat rabbits. Of all the animals we've raised here, they were one of the top for making a profitable cash flow. I'll add I had pedigreed French Angoras and they brought the most and sold the fastest. They are not easy to care for and very time consuming but I did average an extra $200 to $600 a month with them. Nice side homestead hustle money. There are a lot of devils in the details to how I did it but it can be done for someone who enjoys raising and grooming angora rabbits. I know breeders of English Angoras who make a lot more. Pedigreed Angoras can be very profitable on many levels.
Raising rabbits for fiber and meat

 I also brought in German Angoras to see if they would work better They not pluckable and they give the most fiber of all the angora rabbits... they still grow fast enough to be an ok meat rabbit.. sounds perfect! Right?
Major problem... their fiber isn't as soft as the French or English Angoras, to me, it's downright itchy!
 Plus again, they lacked a sweet temperament I wanted so I can groom and harvest the fiber with minimum drama! And honestly, at well over $100 plus for a rabbit, I was going to have a hard time culling them for meat! 
So they were out... and in my disappointment and being in the middle of the overwhelming spring garden season I sold all my angoras to a nice lady in Gatlinburg. 

We tried one more stab at meat rabbits (colored NZ) then gave them all up and turned their cages into brooders for baby poultry and for raising quail which did work better for us and you can read about that here Why Raise Quail?

What doesn't work for us might still work for you!

It can be hard when something fails you've worked so hard at especially when your dream homestead is so overwhelming at first! But take heart!! We are living proof many things do work out! True, they weren't the things we thought would work out but we feel so blessed and happier with the things that have worked!
So believe me when I say, this was not meant to be a discouraging post but one to make you think about it from a different perspective. So hopefully you'll be able to make the most informed decision possible and be saved of the frustrations we had!
For us, we've had alot of success (so far!) with Meishan pigs, Donkeys (to guard and for milk), four season gardens, and working miniature horses (for work, enjoyment, and milk(soon I hope)) I'll also add that my gardens never had enough fertilizer until I brought in equine! That is a major win since gardens are my main focus here!
 If other livestock had been successful I would have never found my true love for equine or enough compost! yay! Win/Win 😄
Many other animals have actually worked here (geese, ducks, quail, which I loved) but we had to prioritize as our gardens have got more important so have my equine, and my husbands Meishan pig business took off. Homesteading simply just comes with hard choices sometimes.

Need more homesteader ideas to check out of Pinterest boards here Homestead and Horse Pinterest Boards

Raising rabbits for fiber and meat
Raising rabbits for fiber and meat on our homestead didn't work out for us... but it might work out for you

Like all other homestead plans, it's all, so perfect in my head.... ohhhh, and so perfect in the article where it does work out for others and in all the pretty magazines where sometimes the article is wrote by someone who doesn't even own that animal!
 Not so perfect in my real homestead farmers life...

And that's ok,,, after all this is the Homesteaders Journey! 

A Little More of our Journey

If you want you can now sign up for the feed notifier (side panel) if you want to make sure you catch all our posts. You can also sign up for our email list at the top of the page or at the bottom.

I mentioned Meishan pigs above so for those who don't know here's a video about if they are a right fit for your farm since we have been on the subject of 'what's right for your homestead?'

3 Tips to save big on the feed bill! That won't take tons of time!

Farm tips! Save on your feed bill without sending lots of extra time!

**ALL photos you see are from my actual Homestead. I do not need to use purchased stock photos. What you see on my blog is REAL! 

It's so important if you want to have a profitable small farm or homestead business to save as much as you can on the feed bill. I thought I'd share some easy ways we save on our feed bill that doesn't take a ton of time!

Our chosen livestock animals 

It's true that the Meishans are very low energy, noncommercial niche pigs! Our other chosen poultry and livestock aren't super heavy commercial eaters either.
Meishan still need plenty to eat and good nutrition in order to have all those babies they and give so much milk like they do! All breeding and producing animals need good nutrition. 
Seeing as how this is not only our pig of choice to raise for our food and lard needs, it's also a major conservation effort we have undertaken. We have to have A LOT of pigs to maintain diverse examples of all 3 bloodlines.
All the livestock feed bills do add up! If you've been homesteading awhile you know this,
But Especially when you're doing a true, closed herd, genetic diverse breeding program. You can read a bit more about Meishans here Make Mine Meishan or watch this video. They are a very neat homestead hog!

Dairy goats, dairy sheep, and cows are also big eaters! Chickens and waterfowl can certainly eat a lot too!
So here are a few tips that have helped us without adding extensive work for feeding that doesn't make enough of a difference in the long run, like growing fodder or sprouting, UGH!
Both have been tried here and are just not realistic, way to labor intensive for us and our livestock needs.

Tips to save on the Feed Bill

1. The local bread store is a great resource!
I can't believe how much is thrown out. It's perfectly good bread but after a day whole grain organic bread gets too stale and can't be sold to customers.

Feeding all these different whole grain breads allows us to cut way back of the carbohydrate portion of our pigs and poultry feed. We get a whole truckload every week now.
So check your local bakery's! Many small bakeries are happy to know their stale wholesome bread goods are still being put to good use.

2. Brewers grains.
Very high in protein and fiber! Must be kept to around 20%  for poultry feed or they will drop in egg production as they can't handle the high fiber in excess. Geese can have a little higher without dropping because they can break down fiber better. Its amazing for dairy goats and sheep! Wow! Do they milk on this stuff!
Dairy sheep and goats get about 40% of their ration in this because they are ruminants and can handle the high fiber. 
Here is a quick read with more details about feeding brewers grains How to use Brewers waste for livestock.
This allows us to cut back on the protein portion of feed we have to buy for the poultry and goats/sheep. If you have a dairy cow this is the stuff!
With all the small micro-brewery's around now this is fairly easy feed to find and they are happy to give it to you! Just keep it away from your pigs, it kills their growth rate and can hurt their productivity. Trust me, we found out the hard way a few years ago!!! That's what we get for listening to the armchair farmers on facebook I guess! Lesson Learned!

3. Re-Hydrated Alfalfa cubes. 
This is something I do for geese, sheep, goats and jenny donkeys or mares heavy pregnant or in milk. High protein, high fiber again so the chickens and ducks only get a little in the winter when they aren't getting any grasses.  Dehydrated alfalfa cubes rehydrated and made soft to mix in their feed. Quick and easy! I just fill a bucket and soak overnight. It's not really any extra work. 
The alfalfa cubes are less expensive than alfalfa meal for poultry and go farther than the pellets do for the equine and ruminants.

It's not much extra effort (like fodder! yikes!) although not as easy as pouring out a bag of dry animal feed but we are seeing a major decline in our feed bill by utilizing these things.  Plus they absolutely love the variety they get!! I believe with a greater variety of foods they will be healthier happier animals! They sure get more excited about feed time!

Farming on a small scale you will find yourself paying the highest retail prices for feed 

This leaves you with a feed bill so high that many new people trying to farm struggle with the fact that their feed bill is now higher than their grocery bill used to be.
It also makes it very difficult for the small farmer to make any profit if they sell their products. Most of the time they actually lose money. 
Certainly, the type of livestock you raise needs to fit the size of your acres and be adaptable to your climate, this also helps!
We are constantly looking for ways to realistically save on the feed bill and keep the animals super healthy! Being out in the open air certainly helps with that too! 
Look around your area! You may find some ways to save on your feed bill and put to good use.

Creating Farm Businesses

From homestead to small subsistence farm and now to the farm business.
Our wild ride in different homesteading/farming ventures has been a blast of successes and crushing times of utter defeats! 
Now this new year,  as I've stated in other posts, brings more changes and it feels so overwhelming but totally exciting.
For 2017 Gods Blessing Farm is now Gods Blessing Farm LLC. 

The milking donkey herd is getting bigger and the donkey milk soap business is a major undertaking. You can try some out yourself here Donkey Milk Soap
Check out my board for some soap making business ideas if its a business you are thinking about!  Soap Making Business

The Ever Changing Homestead 

For this to get bigger other things must get smaller. Management of time has never been more critical. So there will be No other dairy animal projects and no additional poultry projects.
To be honest, Over the years I'm realizing that my gardening and poultry efforts are ...
Well.... A bit too large! 
Ok much too large!!! 2 people do not need to raise over 80 goslings a year with no intent to sell them!
And 2 people do not need the huge and extensive amounts of food I grow in my garden.

So these things get much smaller and some things will get eliminated.
Other dairy animals I wanted, unfortunately, there's no time for me to dedicate there. The donkey milk is superior in skin care and I can't digest other milk like donkey milk so the focus has to be on what keeps me healthy and makes the best product. 

I'll raise about half of the grain corn and veggies that I raised last year and the more difficult things to grow, like things that aren't right for this climate but I've learned hacks to grow them anyways, will not be planted. 
I love my gardens and growing but I got to refocus on what most important. The ever-changing goals of the homesteader! 

I will only incubate some quail next fall for replacements but all other hatchings will be left to the birds themselves. Thankfully my Pilgrim geese and Muscovy ducks are excellent mothers and need no help from me!
My poultry efforts will be very very tiny.

I feel good that we reached an amazing goal of growing over 90% of our own foods here. This year that will be a smaller number. I'm good with that and looking forward to local sourcing from other farmers what I've decided to no longer grow. 
I feel the need to move on to other farm goals and challenges. I feel like these challenges have been put in from of me for a reason and I need to pursue them. 

Check out my Pilgrim goose post here though. Best goos ever! The Pilgrim Goose

The Meishan Pig Business 

My husbands' farm challenges and goals with the Meishans have also grown and changed somewhat. The Meishan offers opportunities that the American Guinea hogs could not offer. 
Having to be given the opportunity to preserve these extremely rare, diverse genetics and get them into the hands of other farmers is a huge undertaking. 
When I saw my husbands breeding schedule for the 2017 Meishans it was terrifying at first look!! 
The Meishans are a big part of the farm business. They are such wonderful pigs that I don't even mind having half our farm be a *pig farm*! 

He's put a lot of work into them. If you would like to learn more he has a great youtube channel where you can see them in action.. or lack of action! Meishan sleep a lot!

They are mostly my husbands' responsibility and as the Meishans get bigger other stuff he does must get smaller. It's all about balance and dedication to the opportunity given.  

There's much to be organized, much to be built and expanded and certainly, much to be learned with these new farm ventures we believe the Lord has led us too. 
It's a new day.... 
God is Good 

Investment in the Homestead Lifestyle

Making the change to a new lifestyle can be challenging. It is an investment in your time and money! Totally worth to us! Is is right for your family? #homesteadlife #homesteader

Starting to build a new lifestyle can be a wonderful journey. No matter if it's a fitness and health lifestyle or a lifestyle that revolves around lakes and living on boats!
The one thing I wish more people who promote a lifestyle would tell interested people is that you need patience above all else.
There is always a learning curve. There is always an investment of time and money. You do need to support your chosen lifestyle.

Starting The Homestead Lifestyle 

Some people can buy a turn key ready to go farm, which is fantastic if that's what you want!. We couldn't and, honestly, I didn't really want too!

I wanted to build my own farm to our own specific ideas and dreams. When you buy a piece of undeveloped acreage you do not have a farm... You have a piece of land. You need to develop it into a farm. Depending on what you want to farm you may need some or all of the following; a feed room, barns, sheds, coops, farm equipment, fencing, and more fencing! Meaning you need time, money and lots of patience. The ability to be flexible is good too! Yes, there are ways to do things frugally but these things sometimes take very more time. Here is a good article on Things to consider if you start a homestead Starting a Homestead

Not to mention the cost of good livestock, which may or may not work out, it may die! Building the soil for a healthy garden takes so much time but raised beds (investment a little more money) can speed that up! Your land may possibly need pasture improvements depending on what you want to raise. Grazing pasture seed is SO expensive! I had no idea!!
Depending on your vision, it may be a farm business or a subsistence farm or maybe a little hobby farm. Three entirely different things! With three very different paths and different expectations. 

I like saving money but I had no patience when we started building our homestead. Now I like saving money even more but this life has taught me the value of being patient too. It was necessary!

The Homestead Lifestyle is like any other lifestyle! Making the change to a new lifestyle can be challenging. And just like any lifestyle you do need to support it. But you don't need to break even on your chosen way of life!
Year 1. Starting to build a herb garden up front no fencing anywhere

The Homestead Lifestyle is like any other lifestyle! Making the change to a new lifestyle can be challenging. And just like any lifestyle you do need to support it. But you don't need to break even on your chosen way of life!
Year 6. The whole front is raised beds and fenced gardens. The entire house and at least 12 acres is also fenced now

Worth Every Penny

For us, the investment in the right land was first for a self-reliant farm that would provide almost all our food. Enough of the right land to keep us out of the grocery store ( it does!) We want to grow our food and be self-reliant. Since we enjoy growing our food (most days!) and we like living in the country homesteading life works and is worth the money spent.

Hopefully, at some point, a part of it could be taken to the next level and create a viable small farm business (update: 2017 we did!). Yet, that business can't hinder us from our first priority. It has to be run like a business, not a homestead lifestyle choice! I'm thankful I married a man who understands that because at first, I did not! Our business site Gods Blessing Farm Meishan Pigs
and A.M.B.A. Registry for the Meishan Pig
The Homestead Lifestyle is like any other lifestyle! Making the change to a new lifestyle can be challenging. And just like any lifestyle you do need to support it. But you don't need to break even on your chosen way of life!
Year 1 sad depleted soil that nothing would grow in
The Homestead Lifestyle is like any other lifestyle! Making the change to a new lifestyle can be challenging. And just like any lifestyle you do need to support it. But you don't need to break even on your chosen way of life!
Year 6 Thriving Healthy Gardens that produce ALL our veggies!

It's not about the money until it's about the money

We often get asked about 'breaking even' on our investment in this farm. I'm not saying for one minute it's not about the money! We can't go broke trying to build a farm. That's not exactly part of a self-sustaining farm! 
With a subsistence farm model in mind, for us, it was really just about not going broke building it for our choice of lifestyle. Kinda like building your dream house with a budget. 

Instead of home improvements like a sauna or hot tub we use our money to develop the farm. We take No vacations.
Seriously a couple of thousand dollars for a week... Or a new fence that could last thirty years for donkeys & geese I can enjoy every day!! Our lifestyle improvements are different now. And that's ok!
I embrace that because now I don't like leaving my farm anyway! Once we got the infrastructures built, settled on gardens and livestock that worked for our land, climate and personalities it is a dream lifestyle for us. We no longer need to go anywhere else.
But that may not be ok for some people. If vacations are a strong part of your current life really consider the added expense of not only building a farm but also the need for farm setters while you vacation. How much of your current lifestyle do you want to give up in order to build a new lifestyle?

Any new lifestyle will have its give and take moments.  One of our investments for recreation on the farm is equine! Really they are a multipurpose part of our lifestyle. They can do farm work, provide mass amounts of manure for my gardens as well as provide relaxing drives or rides on the farm!

The Homestead Lifestyle is like any other lifestyle! Making the change to a new lifestyle can be challenging. And just like any lifestyle you do need to support it. But you don't need to break even on your chosen way of life!
When we purchased there was A little garage, no fencing or animal housing what so ever!

The Homestead Lifestyle is like any other lifestyle! Making the change to a new lifestyle can be challenging. And just like any lifestyle you do need to support it. But you don't need to break even on your chosen way of life!
Year 6. The same garage area is the center of the livestock areas, barn, feed room, loads of fencing, multiple animals sheds all around. Tractor and other equipment.

What does breaking even have to do with the lifestyle?

As I said, Building and developing a piece of land into a farm does take a lot of money. Even done on the hardscrabble hillbilly cheap like we did a lot of stuff ... It's not cheap.
No matter if it's just to produce your own food. Which sounds simple enough,, it's not and The investment in fencing, buildings and so many things that go into growing all your own food is no small task. After 6 years of solid working to develop our land we are still not done.
But that's fine, it's no different than someone who's lived in the same house for 10 years that's constantly upgrading it. Right?

Speaking of lifestyles... Homesteaders get accused of being preppers all the time! It can be both but it's not always one in the same thing! 
Now maybe there's a little prepper in us but if it was all about being a 'prepper' we'd been better off building a big comfy bunker and stocking it with 5 years worth of food!

It would have been cheaper and a more practical plan for a prepper with not near as much work as building a working farm.
Then we could have also put in a hot tub and took a vacation! Then the rest of our time would probably be spent collecting ammo and guns...learning krav maga and how to build fires without matches. Living the real preppers lifestyle!
That actually doesn't sound bad ⚔
No one breaking even on that lifestyle either though... so, now....why do I need to break even on my chosen home and farm improvements?

Our farm is more about the lifestyle we are choosing to lead. There's no break even on how you choose to live. It's our lifestyle, not a business! 
Businesses need to break even and then profit! This is just how we live and we need to support it like any other lifestyle we have chosen in the past. 
You don't plan to break even when you buy a new car. Or Break even when you buy the latest fashion statement handbag or shoes ....why would I break even on the new fencing we are building for my dairy donkeys? 
I was once asked by someone who just couldn't grasp why we chose this lifestyle (city gal). When talking about our daily routines on the farm she asks, "but when do you get to live your life?"
Really... This is my chosen way to live my life. That was a Weird question or maybe it's just me 🤔

Not Going Broke is a real thing though!

Growing extra poultry or piglets to help you break even on the feed bill is an entirely different thing! You're trying to cut an ongoing cost here. Like clipping coupons and saving money like with these tips here Saving Money On your Feed Bill or stopping waste with this DIY Hay Feeder
Selling extra livestock or excess produce. Selling extra hand made farm goods are really all part of a subsistence farm... Meant to cut ongoing costs. It's not a real farm business or top priority. 
On the other hand, Investing in dairy equipment to start a real working dairy you expect at some point to break even and then make money. It's your job, not necessarily your lifestyle. Neither one should make you go broke though!

See my point?? 
homestead lifestyle

Love your Homesteading Lifestyle

So to all you starting out homesteaders out there trying to provide your family with a nice country home and the best food possible ... 
If it's about the lifestyle you don't have to feel the need to break even on every little thing you invest in your farm.
You're simply living your life...
Your chosen way...

So give thanks to God in heaven for the opportunity and to all the men who died for America to be free so that you can live the way you choose!
Take nothing for granted ...enjoy this life you chose and built.
Always remember, you can not break even on a lifestyle. 

Also, if you decide you don't like it. Say, it's Not what you signed up for after all.
You can sell it all and maybe take up Krav Maga 😜

Be blessed beautiful people!!! And always... happy homesteading! Enjoy Your Chosen Lifestyle! No matter what it is.


Interested in Gardening and saving money by starting your own seeds?