Making a little money on the farm?

dan_denise(z5b,6a MO)May 11, 2005

I realize that much of an enterprises success depends on a persons knowledge, experience, determination, and the facilities available. But "all things being equal" as they say, what would you say has been your most profitable ventures/ enterprises on the farm?

Whether you actually do it or not, what do you feel has the best profit potential?

I know for many folks farming is more a labor of love than anything else, but I was just curious what things generated the best return for you.

Just as important, what things would you stay away from?

Thanks for sharing!


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I can't remember how much land you have, but we started with 40 acres and I had a small beef herd. I never lost money on them! You must keep records, do lots of herd health yourself, keep them bred, wean and sell calves in a timely manner.

Another venture for me was bottle feeding baby Holstein calves. But this is not for the faint of heart! It must be researched carefully before trying this. I never tell anyone to jump in and feed baby calves. Do your homework. That being said, money can be made.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 3:54PM
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Eggs. Stay away from anything you know nothing about. Old McDonald.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 6:11PM
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cheribelle(Z5 IA)

My neighbor raises show pigs. It cost him a bunch for the first guilt, about $1500, and he artificially inseminates. But he has people coming from all ove the country to buy his piglets. Sorry, I don't know any more about it or I'd be doing it myself. If you can cater to the 4H show crowd, there is a good market there.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 6:13PM
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ladnarsr(sw IA)

Early maturing great tasting IOWA sweetcorn!!! Other than that right now organic yellow corn corn is bringing over $6/ bushel. Not usually that high in value in the past, usually around $4/ bushel picked up on the farm. organic alfalfa hay isnt to mad if there is a close market for it. Got $90/ ton picked up for 900lb sqaure bales but not much demand for it. Now if my off the farm job paid double and I got 40 hours a week! Still making more than i ever thought I would. RANDAL

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 10:53PM
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dan_denise(z5b,6a MO)

Thanks guys! Great ideas! Good "food for thought".

Old McDonald,

If your stay away from everthing that you know nothing about it, how will you ever learn new things??


    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 11:00PM
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Check with your local extension. Those guys are always into "alternative" farming for small operator ideas.

I must disagree with Old McDonald in this respect: Stay away from things you know nothing about that are very high risk! The other things, you get into very slowly to learn how. When we moved out, we had two children and no experience with anything country except gardening. We had tons of advice from my parents but everything else was research, read, and ask about! You can do it!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 6:32AM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

big thing to stay away from? farm programs now are suggesting raising dogs/cats as a aternative income. BAD IDEA!!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 8:10AM
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Jamie_in_Missouri(SW Missouri)

You could breed horses. No,wait. You said you wanted to MAKE some money.

Hmmmmm, don't know where you live, how many acres you have, or the nearest town and it's population. All that would play into any advise I would give.

Regarding eggs, in my experience I've just only made enough off them to cover their feed but I've never kept more than 50 hens and always lived near small towns. I usually ended up giving away more than I sold.

ceresone, I've known quite a few folks that make a good bit of money every year raising dogs. Seems like lab's are the hot ticket item as they sell well, have large litters, and the buyers are always looking for some as people love the breed.

Anyway, how did the extension agent visit go? Did he have any ideas for you?


    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 12:04PM
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Goats have been a good money maker around here.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 4:26PM
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dan_denise(z5b,6a MO)

Funny you should ask, we just had our visit this morning. Very nice guy. We walked the pasture, looked at the forage and took soil samples. We talked about a number of different options. Basically he affirmed the plan I had all along.
Here it is in a nutshell:
I only have 15 acres in pasture, and about 5 more in a wooded mix, so I know that any big cattle interest is not possible. But I would like to run 5-7 stocker calves during the summer. A couple of them we will have butchered for ourselves and for family. The others I will just sell. (I have a close friend who has been in the cattle business for 30 some years and he is mentoring me and I will take mine to auction with his.) I know the cattle will not make any money to speak of. If it breaks even I know Ill be lucky. But much of their value will come from the maintenance of the pasture and the manure we will get. This brings me to the primary part of the plan.
Our real interest/passion is for growing. I plan on fencing off a 1.5+/- acre area thats up between the house and barn and using this to expand our market gardening venture. We live in Franklin County, which borders St. Louis County. We are about 45 minutes from St. Louis and 20 minutes from Washington which is "infested" with uppity yuppies moving out from the city. There is a growing farmers market there where we plan on doing much of our selling once we have the production. We will also maintain a roadside stand and sell through network of friends and family. We also plan on getting chickens, primarily for the eggs, manure and entertainment.
Thats the dream anyway. And we will make it happen. What we lack in experience we make up for in enthusiasm for learning!
So, with all that in mind, what advice do you have? Are there other or additional opportunities to be had? PLEASE everyone share your thoughts and experience!

Gldno1 & Randal,
Thank you so much for the encouragement!

Old McDonald
I sincerely apologize if my response to your post seemed terse, but I have become sensitive to the attitude that so many seem to have that "farming" cannot be learned. It is as though you must be born of some blood line in order to be a "farmer". I come from a family of tradesmen. I understand and appreciate the rules of fraternity. I know what it means to start at the bottom and come up through the ranks. But is not farming a trade?
Granted, it is undeniably one of the most complex of occupations, requiring that a person be versed in many trades, but with the right spirit and determination dont you think a person can "learn it"?
Im sure I read too much into you post. I am sorry. Its just that I have three young sons and a wonderful pioneer-spirited wife and we are all excited about trying things of which we know nothing about.

Sorry all for getting on the soapbox there!
Keep talking!


    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 4:38PM
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Dan, I am too old to take offence, and did not consider your response terse, but in fact vey pertinent. I am not an umpteenth generation farmer. Father was a pitman, grandfather was a blacksmith. Both wanted to be farmers, but never reached full-time status. G.grandfather was a crofter and took a job on the railways. Regular posters know this, but my wife and I move farm, and usually country too, every few years. We have a learning curve on every occasion. You asked two questions and I answered both. Eggs have often been our only source of income (and profit). We learn new stock and crops on an extremely small scale, eg I have recently sown 4 ounces of rye and 200 seeds of a new turnip variety. This way I will find out how they perform here at no risk. Way back I began learning about sheep with 6 ewes, and cattle with bucket fed calves. In Australia we ran 1500 sheep and 400 cattle. Last Autumn I bought and sowed 40 worth of lupin seeds. We cut it for hay yesterday because there was too much to plough in as green manure, which we had intended. I have never grown lupins before.

I read your "venture/enterprise" question as something big enough that money is risked, so I repeat not to try anything you are not already familiar with. Olives are a new crop to me, but after 2 years' experience we have decided to "venture" an extra hectare with drip irrigation - cost about 6,000. I would not have done this without the couple of years' experience. There are some wonderful practical web sites out there - think of an enterprise look up the sites Govt. Depts in Australia, US Universities, and oddly enough some Indian sites go into good detail. By the time you read these you will be better informed than many long-time farmers, so yes, like anything else it can be learned.

If you are to attend markets, I recommend aiming for the highest possible quality, and sell anything not quite up to YOUR standard at a much reduced price. Some customers will buy only your rejects. Honey and mushrooms were always good "extras" for us on our egg stalls. Shelf life of mushrooms is a problem, Shiitake probably being best, as they dry very easily if not sold fresh.
Keep asking, and people on this forum will keep talking. Old McDonald.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 5:56PM
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dan_denise(z5b,6a MO)

Old McDonald,
We will always look forward to your response to our questions.

Thank You,
Dan, Denise and the boys

    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 8:14PM
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Neighbor allowed his sister to put a tow behind trailer beside his place. She was a prostitute, i think she probaly made more than other farm around this area.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 5:44AM
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Value added products from fruits and vegetables grown on our farm are doing well for us.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 8:29AM
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Turtle_Haven_Farm(Z5 NY)

We have made some money on eggs, we've made enough to keep them in feed with a little profit.
We're now looking into raising specialty heirloom vegetables and fruits in raised beds. We have a couple of areas of fairly wet property that's just sitting there. Also look into produce that is fragile and not easily carried by local supermarkets: fresh picked raspberries, blueberries, strawberries. Find areas near you that you can market @ local farmers markets. - Ellen

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 8:35AM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

sorry, jamie, but its the voice of experience speaking on raising dogs/cats.any one want to see state AND federal inspectors showing up at your farm, unannounced 24/7?and, i wont even go into the dishonest inspectors!!or the business in general. guess maybe its like growing bermuda grass, you dont understand it till you have it.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 8:37AM
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Dan, do you have any of Joel Salatins books? If I were you ( and I almost am...we are just starting our operation and have a couple of young boys!!) I would get "You Can Farm". Excellent book! Since you are considering a small beef herd you could commpliment that with pastured poultry. We will be doing this along with our market garden and our new layer flock. Our place is a bit bigger than yours but it sounds like we are looking into the same things! I agree with Oldmcdonald about not putting too much money into anything until you have a few years with a small scale trial effort. I got our 20+ bird laying flock and am now kicking myself for not getting at least 50 but if they all would have gotten sick I would have been glad to have only had 25.....

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 8:39AM
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This summer we're back on the farm part time after a two year absence. Somy ideas are based on my memory, good luck. Biggest livestock money maker was meat chickens. We netted $5/bird using Salatin's ideas. Most we raised was 600 and that is way too many. The start up cost was $1000 or so for picker, scalder, chicken tractor components, feeders, waterers etc. Pastured pigs always made money with the income for 3 paying for ours. For produce asparagus is a good money maker. We have 1000 crowns and get $2.50/lb. Last year we sold 600#. Going back I think we'll stick with pigs and asparagus. We'll raise much more than those but just for us. Remember that the money is in the selling, not the growing. Good Luck! Tom

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 11:53AM
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hengal(z5 / IN)

Dan - that was my exact thought also! Go out and get Salatin's book - You Can Farm. It really is a terrific book. Lots of ideas and very straight forward information and advice.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 11:53AM
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PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don't get on the dog/cat breeding bandwagon. There shouldn't be any "hot ticket" as "Jamie" puts it - breed that you should be counting on for quick cash. This sort of breeding is highly discouraged. Unless you know a h*lluva lot about a particular breed, plan to spend $$$$$ for quality stock, attend shows regularly, & are pretty much nutty about your particular breed - DON'T DO IT!!

Far too many of us are working to get the "puppy mills" closed down & outlawed. I'm one of them. A local pet store started selling puppies shipped in via truck from some "puppy mill" in Missouri. An employee made the mistake of admitting it to me. After some media attention & public boycotting, we've made some inroads.

Our local shelter is full to the brim with mixed & purebred dogs & cats due to folks either not investigating the breed before they bought, buying a puppy-mill dog that turned out to have illnesses they can't afford to treat, or not bothering to spay/neuter their pet. Many of these animals are euthanized daily.

Don't add to the heartbreak. Leave the purebred pet breeding to the professionals.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 2:51PM
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dan_denise(z5b,6a MO)

Thanks Guys!
I've got Joel Salatin's "You Can Farm" and "Family Friendly Farming". Love them both. I don't just read them, I STUDY them!

Hey Jamie,
Just noticed on your page that you home school. So do we. What ways do you incorporate farm activities into the schooling? I think it is such a great opportunity, don't you? It can teach math, economics, practically all the sciences, trades, even phys ed! LOL


    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 2:59PM
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Sounds like you're headed in the right direction already. There is no doubt that you will "tweek" your project a bit in one way or another as you go through the learning steps.
Keep your head and eyes open for any and all possibilities.

You might do ok with the stocker project, especially with a friendly mentor, but I really hope you pick up on the advise of a few others who have posted and get involved with Joel Salatins ideas. In general, start to study pasture management, and use the cattle or any variety of livestock as the "value added" products. The better you manage what they will need to do well, the better they will.
You don't have to invest heavily in a lot of machinery or crops. Just let some good grazing breeds of cattle do the harvesting for you. Small paddocks managed correctly will add more value to your land than anything.

A few cows with calves, moved on a regular basis, followed by a second animal will really be an education. A few pastured broilers will be good turnovers, and a portable pen with layers will also make a difference.

What ever you do, Marketing of your products will be the big project, and you already have a farm market in mind. Try to pick the projects that are working for you while you are sleeping,(like a cow raising a calf). Mostly all profit.

See of your county extention has any thing like "pasture walks" during the summer. Even if you have to go to another county, try to make a few of them. Best learning tools you can get, and they are usually free.

Good luck in all you do, and have fun.


    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 3:17PM
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I have problems believing the "advice" in books by people such as Salatin. Whilst I have not read any of his, after some people pumped him up on this forum last year I looked for as much info as possible on him and found a few items. There is an old saying "If you cannot do it, teach it". If these people had such certain methods of making a lot of profit then why would they need to be writing books and being away from home earning money on the talking circuit instead of staying at home with their families (as most posters here seem to want to do) and make millions by merely expanding their foolproof systems? Has anyone on this forum seen the enterprises of any of these pundits? How much capital is invested? What is their return on capital?

OK I admit that I too am writing a book on my experiences around the world, but I began it in 1989 and the title will begin with "How Not to Become Rich..." following on with something to the effect of eating well, being happy or somesuch. Farming can be a good life, but do not expect to make a lot of money unless you have a lot of money to begin with and some of it is invested elsewhere. Old McDonald.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 6:06PM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

agree 100% with breezyb

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 7:15PM
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dan_denise(z5b,6a MO)

Old McDonald,
Your point is well taken. While lacking your experience, I do share you skepticism. Being an avid reader already, I have read many books so far in my adventure into this chapter of life. (My wife says the farm is going to have to do well just to pay for the library Im building). From most of them I seem to take away a little something useful. Some are just a lot of fluff and pretty pictures.
I purchased Salatins books primarily because of how much they were referred to on these forums. I must say they are different from most others. While he does get a little too "preachy" for my taste at times, I do appreciate the down to earth style of the writing. Its a very "nuts and bolts" presentation of some unique ideas. I have never gotten the impression that he is touting his ideas as how to get rich from farming. In fact he seems to stress the point that while one can make living by farming, your NOT going to make a fortune. He makes no bones about the fact that it is a hard endeavor full of many sacrifices, yet richly rewarding on many levels.
Im not the blind Salatin groupie that I must sound like, its just that of all the books I have collected his have been the most interesting.

I eagerly await your book.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 11:21PM
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Well, I am going to Salatin's farm in July so I will let you know if it is a racket. I love to be skeptical sometimes too, but I do believe that every now and then someone cam write a book purely because they think they can help people. I look at all of his teaching engagements as "value added products" from his farm. Some people spend lots of time putting up food and he spends that time writing and talking. I have some books by Eliot Coleman and he is another one that I am very happy took some time away from the fields to sit in front of a computer to write his experiences-- now he does have a little too much "product endorsement" in the Johnny's catalog for my taste but since they are from the same area I guess I can overlook that a bit.....

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 8:43AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

If you are near a "big city" and want to make the effort, and maybe develop a freezer locker/butcher connection, you might do well with selling your cattle as organic meat and/or as grass-fed beef. I don't know the regulations in your state, but I THINK that if you sell the meat "raw", so to speak, and the customer pays for butchering and freezing and picks up the meat at the locker, you don't have to worry about licences or inspections. I imagine you could match-up people who want only a half or quarter of a beef. I think the butcher/locker has to meet some USDA regulations, but it's not as onerous a level as if you sold the meat by the steak. Certainly, with all the health interests in low-fat or organic meats, if you did even minimal advertising (or went through several health-food stores or co-ops), I would think there would be a ready market. I would also check into what the local regulations are for selling meat chickens, as there may be too many for you to make a profit initially, esp. with equipment, etc., purchases. If doing it on a very small scale, and direct selling, you may come "under the radar" so to speak, and not have to comply with USDA regs. That's if you WANT to do meat hens, of course.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 9:03AM
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WA State has gone to a pretty good program for slaughter permits for pastured poultry. It is a $75 fee for a permit that is good for one season. The rules are reasonable and there is lots of leeway in meeting them. Of course $75 is the profit from the 1st 15 chickens.

I agree that Salatin's books get a bit preachy but looking past that he has good ideas on how to make a family farm work. His enterprises are low tech and generally grass based. He's a marketer and an entertainer and that's needed for a successful small operation. Tom

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 11:35AM
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"Imtoobusy" - I'm an Elliot Coleman/Barbara Damrosch fan as well, & have been for many years.

I think the reason Elliot has a lot of endorsement from both Johnny's Selected Seeds and Smith & Hawken is 1) as you said, he & Johnny's reside in the same area & have done a lot of mutual gardening together, & 2) Elliot has actually developed & had manufactured a number of gardening tools that he found useful on his own farm. Unlike most other paid endorsers, I believe that Elliot actually uses the items he endorses.

By the way, does anyone besides me miss the TV show they used to have on "The Learning Channel"?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 6:24PM
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After reading Salatin and Coleman the book that puts it all together including the financial part is "The Small Commercial Garden" by Dan Haakenson. He turns the generalities of everyone else into specifics. Tom

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 8:58AM
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dan_denise(z5b,6a MO)

Goat Man,
Thanks for the tip on the book. Here I go here I come!
Can you tell me a little more about your pigs?

Several have mentioned their "value added products". Such as...?


    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 10:42AM
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Hi, Dan & family - A real good moneymaker, expecially with small acreage is goats. They are much easier stock for beginners & kids to handle. Even a mellow cow can get very "BIG" if she is not in a good moo-d. Check out a few goat sites. Google "Boer Goats" , "Kiko Goats" and "Commercal Goats" go to links from there. Also, read everything on this site pertaining to goats (that's what I'm doing here). Fencing is another consideration. We are putting up High-Tensile barbed 5-strands, and some High-Tensile electric. We raise cattle, with my husbands family and years of experience. Having someone to mentor you is invaluable. Be sure the wife & kids shower him in cookies & treats! We also raise hair sheep and meat goats. Rotating pastures the cattle eat first followed up by the goats. Goats eat alot of multiflower rose and weeds the cattle don't. The sheep rotate different areas, so the can't visit through the fence with goats. They would get along fine together, but there are sheep diseases (Scrappies) that could be a risk to our expensive goats.
I will end for now, but will check in to see any updated info that you post.
Good Luck! There is no life finer that farming, in our book.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 3:53PM
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Before you get into goats, make sure you investigate the market thoroughly. So many folks here in Virginia dove into raising Boer meat goats only to find the market for goat meat rather limited. Of course they took the glowing advice of the folks who were selling them the initial stock - lol!!! Not always such a good source!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 5:43PM
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bruglover(Gulf States)

WRT selling broilers, where I live you are "under the radar" as regards inspections and such if you:

1. Sell 'em live. Depending on where you live, this may be very possible. I raise 25-50 broilers once or twice a year. We sell three-quarters of each batch, put the rest in our freezer and the ones we keep are "free," which is good enough for me. Asians buy live chickens, and there's a big Asian farmer's market-type deal about 60 miles from here. My customer buys all the chickens I'll let him have, alive. No muss, no fuss, no USDA inspections necessary. They especially like red chickens and will pay more for them.

I don't know that I would get as good a price as I do for my birds from my customer if they were raised in crowded conditions, locked up in a building. Communication is difficult as he barely speaks English, he brings a friend with him to translate who lives nearby but isn't much more fluent, but they have said that they like my birds because they have lots of room, are outdoors with sunshine, and are free-range at least part of their lives. "No chemicals, no drugs!" they say. They happily and expertly chase down and capture my birds if they aren't penned, too.

2. Check your local and state laws. In some states, you can raise, butcher and sell X number of birds a year without needing to be licensed as a slaughterhouse. The Louisiana state law also allows sales of pickles, jams and jellies without them having to have been done in a commercial inspected kitchen.

If you need to use a commercial kitchen to prepare value-added stuff, I think some extension services can help there, too. There's just a heck of a lot of info and services to aid rural development, so look around and ask.

Not so much with #1, but with #2 for sure I'd invest in some kinda liability insurance. Regarding insurance, licensing, etc., your local ag. extension service should be able to tell you most everything you need to know about the specific enterprise you want to get into, where local farmers markets are, etc.

Dogs: DO NOT RAISE DOGS FOR MONEY. Fully 25% of the unwanted dogs in this country in shelters, that end up being put to sleep, are purebred dogs. There are just too many dogs. We taxpayers pay for it.

The only way you get top dollar for dogs is if you enter 'em in dog shows, and they win. And when all is said and done, that's a hobby that costs you money; it is, in fact, a hobby for the rich; you can maybe sell one litter a year for big bucks, and you won't break even. You'll lose.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 11:28AM
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I can't believe no one has even mentioned selling plants. Seed is cheap and with even a limited experience you can start tomato, annauls and on and on. Go for the odd ball plants as those sale fastest.
Another great idea is the 'basket of veggies'. Thats where once a month you provide a basket of WHATEVER you have in produce, flowers or whatever ready at that time to dem Yuppies. The way it works in over winter you get together say ... 15 people (do start small so you can see how much and of what you can produce) ... and you tell them that you will fill that basket with fresh produce once a month at 'x' dollars per basket with a total of 'y' baskets for the season. You get the money up front (or half now ... half mid-season) and while you give them a general idea of what to expect make it known that you only promise variety and freshness. This idea does very well in New Orleans.

I'm a firm believer in variety and permanence. I'm into the whole concept on the Permaculure idea. You said you are more of a plantsmen so think about plants man ;o) I have a zillon differnent fruit trees but let me focus on figs. With these trees I'll have first and formost figs for me to enjoy but also a 'pick your own' operation and with the more special figs a market in New Orleans with the fancy resturants and those more ordinary figs can be sold roadside (put them in that basket too!). Then those same trees will be prunned and cuttings started as new plants to sale on that same roadside stand. All of that from one plant.
Now add to that any (and I say all!) fruits, nuts and any permanent crop you can raise (and this includes herbs, flowers, shrubs ...anything that has value of any sort be it to improve the land, ornamental for dividing and saleing, or produces valued product) and reproduce. Once you have those plants growing its a matter of maintaining those plants, picking the yearly fruit and reproducing them. And lookin' back at the fig trees, what value can they have when not providing fruit or cuttings? Lots! They are a heavy shade plant soooooo plant shade loving plants beneath them. For me that means the smaller ornamental gingers among other plants.
Now lets say you go whole hog (excuse the pun ;o) into pork. That means you are DEPENDENT on that one product. Not a good idea. What happens if your pig market is saturated with the beasties? Or a disease comes through? And you should know a monoculture can spring some bad suprises on ya wheter talkin' plants or animals. A single crop (or animal) is more likely to need protection againt disease vecters. Think of those pigs as a target. The more pigs the larger the target and the more likely you will be hit by some nasty. A single pig or two is less likely to have those same problems.

'Nuff from m ;o)

Wishin' ya nothing but the best!!!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 2:56PM
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wireweiners(SW AR)

Amen to those that said NO to dogs. Jamie, labs may be a "hot ticket" as pups but visit any pound and you'll find lots of teenaged labs on "death row" for being nothing more than high energy, untrained teenaged labs. I show dogs and while you don't have to be rich to compete in shows, it is most definately a hobby, not a money maker.
Meat goats and sheep do well if you live in an area with a high hispanic or middle eastern population. Anything organically raised seems to be doing well now.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 3:18PM
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hey, if you raise show dogs then you could get on that TV show "showdog moms and dads" and have everyone laugh at your antics. Ever see the movie "dog show" by the guy who did spinal tap? tooooo funny Come on people, it's a DOG for petes sake. They spend more on their dogs than some people do on thier kids.

Sorry-- a bit OT.....

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 11:28PM
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Jamie_in_Missouri(SW Missouri)

Well Dan, I was not the one who even brought up the dog thing rather I just suggested it as a way for you to make an added income.

I get so damn sick of folks who think you gotta be some kind of dang expert to breed a dog and folks who think every stallion should be gelded unless it's theirs as they are somehow an expert on horses. I also get sick of the folks that think every dog you own should come out of a pound somewhere.

I never suggested you starting a "puppy mill". As we all know if you did breezyb would come shut it down just like she did the hatchery that she closed down for selling colored chickens (not!). Geeze, gimme a break. I swear some folks on this forum would not know a farm/ranch and the life it involves if it came up and bit them on the butt.

I would have gotten more into the topic but I've been busy. I'll tell you what I do know about folks that raise dogs. Not for a living but for the enjoyment as well as the money.

I have 2 friends that are avid hunters and raise Lab's. Their dogs are all out of proven stock. Meaning folks that buy thier dogs know they are more than likley gonna get a good hunting dog. The pups they don't sell are then sold to a broker.

I have another friend that raises Walkers and Blue Tick coon hounds. He sells them all over the US. Folks travel for miles to buy one of his dogs.

The folks I got my Mountain Cur from have all their pups sold before they are even born. A deposit is put down and is then refunded if there are not enough pups in the litter or either a male or female is not available.

The folks that owned the feed store in Arkansas I used to go to raised blue and red heelers. All working stock dogs.

So before everyone get's their panties in a wad (well I think that's allready happened) I was refering to specialty breeds. One's you don't pick up at the humane society and then get to come here and get all kinds of ohhh's and ahhhh's cause you "rescued" a dog.

Soon as haying is over I'll come back here or send you a private e-mail about some ideas I have for ya'.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 11:57PM
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bruglover(Gulf States)

Sorry for offending you, Jamie. Perhaps I can explain; it isn't all sentimental, some is practical.

People get uptight about raising dogs to sell because there are just way too many dogs, and so lots of people consider it unethical. I agree. Breeders who show their dogs generally aren't making money at it, but doing it as a hobby and for love of the breed. And generally aren't churning out lots of litters every year, either, though there are exceptions to every rule.

Since most people who want a dog want a pet, it's reasonable to direct them to the pound or a rescue, where they can get a perfectly good dog, even a purebred, give it a home and at the same time open up a space for another dumped dog. Not only is it a warm fuzzy, but a public service. And it makes sense. Why encourage somebody to breed dogs, when it's costing us taxpayers money to kill and incinerate dogs?

Dogs I think can be more labor-intensive than other livestock, bec. most people will expect pricey puppies to be socialized and the older dogs to be trained (at least mannerly and housebroken). Not raised in an outdoor kennel.

Perhaps I would be a harder "sell." If I were going to spend $800-1,000 on a purebred dog, I'd want the parents and the dog to have had all age-appropriate testing (OFA for hips, maybe CERF, blood testing, depending on breed and age), vet checks, shots, AKC papers, etc. The breeder would have hundreds in the dog with that, not counting what the parents cost. And they wouldn't get more than probably $300 out of me unless the dog was genuinely show quality or the parents were big field trial winners - which costs money. Not the grandparents, or somewhere in the ancestry. Every purebred dog has champions in their pedigree, and that's meaningless to the quality of a puppy a couple generations removed.

I'd rather pay $250-300 for a purebred dog from a rescue than the same for a purebred from most backyard breeders because I'd have a better idea of what I'd be getting. Lots of rescues, the dogs live in a house, they're housebroken, the caretakers know their idiosyncrasies, they'll take the dog back if it doesn't work out for any reason, they've been completely vetted, health guarantee, etc. Backyard breeders and breeders for profit often don't do all these things. Rescues are a bargain, because I'm not just looking at some value, this breed is worth X dollars - I'm gonna be living with the dog for a decade.

I'd think to really get top dollar for your puppies, even if they're an uncommon breed, you'd have to establish a reputation - which could take years. In the meantime, you might well be selling dogs at a break-even, or at a loss. Or not be able to sell all the puppies you whelped - and then what? Have them put down, and moneywise they're a total loss? Or keep feeding them and try to sell them as adults, when they're less appealing? You can't just say, oh, well, this isn't working out, and butcher them and put 'em in your freezer, like I can with my rabbits (wry grin).

With edibles, there's a turnover that makes it easier to profit (and also easier to get out, if you cannot profit). I can sell another meat animal or another dozen eggs to the same customer in a week, a month, several times a year, and build my reputation and customer base one person at a time, with something they're gonna consume and hopefully want again, soon.

With a dog, you probably aren't gonna get the same repeat customer for 10-12 years; you have to get a new customer. And the number of people that will shell out big bucks - enough to make a profit - on a dog is limited.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 2:07AM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

Excellent post, bruglover!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 7:19AM
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dan_denise(z5b,6a MO)

Let me put everyone at ease.

I have no intention of raising dogs (other than the one fur covered eating machine we already have). Not a purebred. 100% mutt. Found puppy wandering on the road and took her in.

--Pausing for collective..aaaaww ;) --

I have no problem with RESPONSIBLE, PROFESSIONAL, dog breeders, or with the RESPONSIBLE adults that purchase the dogs and then take good care of them.

Jamie was not encouraging me to start a puppy mill. I asked how different ones made money on the farm. He simply pointed out one way.

So let me repeat myself: I am not going to raise dogs.

Now....back to our regularly schuduled program...
How do you make money on your farm?


    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 11:16AM
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mommagoose(z5 NY)

Hi! I live on 14 acres of river bottom in New York State. I have sold produce at three local farmers markets. I specialized in unusual vegetables for our area Cantalopes watermelon blue and red fleshed potatoes, canning tomatoes Okra, and the best one of them all pickling cucumbers. I sold pickling cucumbers $1.00 a quart or 10cents a piece. Averaged $32.00 a bushel. We also raise chickens and sold brown eggs and duck eggs and an occasional goose egg. The biggest factors are irrigation and weather. Can not do much about the weather. We grow melons and cucumbers on IRT Plastic because it heats up better than black plastic. Using thermally opaic plastic extends the season and helps us be the first at the market with melons and cucmbers . Our customers get used to buying from us a few weeks earlier than others at the market so we control the sales :) If you like people and can deal with the scedual try growing for market. That reminds me a good "magazine" is Growing For Market subscriptions are available on line.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 12:38PM
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Rodent(z5 SE Iowa)

They way we make a little extra, if you want to call it that, and no I don't raise dogs. I raise chickens, I sell colored eggs, brown green and blue. My middle son is hatching out eggs and selling babies, and this year we are starting something new. We are going to sell at the Farmers Market. I plan on selling veggies and eggs. I have hired (forced) my 2 oldest boys in helping me. We sure don't make a lot, we barely make enough to pay the feed bill. I started this a couple of years ago for fun, but now it has turned into an adventure of learning a buisness for the kids and we have high hopes that one day it will take off and we will do better then just pay the feed bill.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 3:19PM
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wireweiners(SW AR)

Excellent post, Bruglover. And Jamie, I've been farming/ranching a LOT longer than you have so I know exactly what that kind of life entails.

Other things to say away from, anything that seems to good to be true ie ostriches, emus, llamas, alpacas. The best way to make money on the farm is to have a job off the farm!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 12:16PM
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3 comments. Bruglover's post about raising chickens and selling them live was spot on for us. We raised ducks and sold live to asians. I worked at Cessna and mentioned the ducks to some co workers. Two were out the next day and bought 3. I helped butcher them. The next day one told me at work that his grandma wanted them live. Biggest sales were around New Year's festivals.
The largest income/area was from my grandma's garden. She sold baskets of tomatoes to the local hamburger shop as well as cukes to a local restaurant.
Wireweiners' last comment was also spot on. You want to make money, do it off the farm. At best these days you might break even on taxes from farm income. You live off you off-farm income.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 1:01PM
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While this market definitely depends on your location, & would need some pre-sale marketing research, a woman I knew back in NY made quite a tidy little side income raising up fancy breed chickens to the semi-adult stage & then selling them. She'd buy chicks from one of the major hatcheries & raise them up until she could definitively sex them, then would advertise in the local papers & on feed store bulletin boards accordingly. Depending on the breed & sex, she was getting between $10-$20 apiece for these birds.

Regular customers who wanted specific sexes & weren't interested in raising chicks themselves would place orders with her ahead of time.

I bought birds from her several times & must say that she seemed to do quite well.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 5:59PM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

i just heard today about a lady selling hatching eggs(setting eggs) on e-bay!! i'm not sure what that entails, how you prepare them for shipping, or how she ships them, i dont know-but the fancier breeds, i'm sure thats a idea. or, if you live in a area where this could be a idea, to sell them direct off the farm,-- but in my estimation, it would just about take every suggestion, fruits, veggies, eggs, poultry, beef---and a off the farm job to make a living, with the prices like they are in stores and gas stations.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 11:21AM
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The book Micro Eco-Farming by Barbara Berst Adams is very helpful. ISBN 0-9632814-3-7, published by New World Publishing.

The foreword is very encouraging. The book is realistic. There are stories of regular people who have done very well for themselves through farming.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 6:37PM
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highlonesome(z7 NC)

there are some folks down my way who raise quail to sell to hunting clubs.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 9:37PM
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basilmom(z5 IN)

I swear, you mention the word "dog" on this forum, and we're almost gauranteed to have a situation on our hands! Glad it was handled nicely this time!

Anyway.....I sort of resent the comments poo-pooing Dans optimism! There ARE farms making money and not just corperate ones. There is a dairy producing organic milk near here and delivering their yummy chocolate milk once a week to Chicago markets - they can't produce emough (retailing for $3 a quart BTW!). There are green houses in this area that started inthe backyard of someones they are thriving and so busy they can barely keep up. I read an article in Successful Farming about a ranch that started growing specialty hay for the big equine market in their area - they were making a hefty profit. I've got a friend whose brother makes over 100k/year with a corn maze....he's opened 3 months out ot the year (supplementing with pumpkins, ornamental corn and squash, etc.).

I always recommend Lyn Byszinski's book, The Flower Farmer, to anyone who likes to grow flowers! It is a great reference and has an excellent plan for a "trial" year, and then a plan for growth.

I think the people who do well have an open mind, like you and your wife, Dan! I live in a pit of farming where these cranky old SOB's have done the same thing for 50 years and all they do is smirk at a new idea whilst complaining about not making a living farming. They're too set in their ways to believe that there IS a way as long as there is a will! My husband and I are trapped in a family that has grown corn and beans for eons (having also had 100 head of dairy cattle too, but bailing when there was still money to made when the Dutch were buying entire herds)...we wait until the moment we can break ground on a few acres to grow something absolutely crazy...just to drive the neighbors insane!

I wish I had some advice based on actual experience Dan, but since we're just waiting for the day when this partnership is no longer, and we have some actual control. In the meantime we just read everything we can get our hands on and keep our eyes opened, just like you.

Best of luck to you and the family! I wish you lots of success! :)


    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 10:20PM
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I can agree with everyone has said on the dog issue. I also know some breeders of fine hunting and livestock dogs. I don't think they are really clearing as much profit from them after all the expenses, but their purpose is to supply a demand and help fill the void. I have also seen the inhumane and squalid puppy mills first hand. I'm the first to call in the help of the Humane Society and SPCA, but I am also the first to recommend a good breeder or a type of dog to someone looking for such a creature.
I can't say enough about the merits of direct marketing. Beef is still the "Cadillac" of meats and there is certainly nothing wrong with poultry and pork, either. Not everyone lives near an Asian community to sell LIVE birds to, but there's always someone who will eat poultry, pork or beef, or all.
Basilmom, I know exactly what you are dealing with. The attitudes are just like that here, and some have even accused me of being a "lesser" farmer for focusing my attention on produce and alternative crops/livestock. It just no longer makes sense to me to keep trying to pay for that 250K combine and 175K tractor [not to mention all the accompanying support implements and vehicles] just to grow stuff that barely clears the cost of labor/fuel, let alone PAY for all that stuff. I'd much rather take their teasing and shunning, while getting as much or more per lb what they get for a bushel of what they waste time/money/labor growing! I just can't get over the act that after 17 years of doing this, nobody has followed suit! It's not like I hold the only key to the only door!
Dan, good luick with whatever you decide to do.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 11:34PM
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Link below.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2005 at 4:54PM
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Robin, could you recheck your link? I don't think that is the one you wanted.

Basilmom- AMEN SISTER!!! You are so right about the naysayers. The whole point of the new movements in agriculture is to help people who are INTERESTED in making money off of their land (and are willing to use new thinking to accomplish thier goals). The same ol, same ol only seems to work for the biggest of the big. My biggest problem is this mentality of loans, loans, loans. Of course you are never going to make any money if you have all of these loans to pay off. Not only that, you are not in charge of your own destiny--the bank is. Start S L O W and easy.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2005 at 10:24PM
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basilmom(z5 IN)

Basilmoms' DH here..I grew up working our family farm even though we had a tenant farmer who was a good dairy man. His venture into progressive farming was articial insemenation(sp)? Anyway, keeping an open mind has helped MANY farming families keep farming. I worked with a guy in MS who raised rabbits for breeding and food to local stores, restraunts(sp)and he was building the business so he could be at home. He did none of the processing. I would suggest subscribing to "Successful Farming" as a small investment in getting a wide range of ideas. My first job when I was 12 was baling hay for local farmers, it was a great job, eventually I turned my attention to working for the tenant here. To start i would start small and learn,learn and ask questions. As for the naysayers well it may be all they know, and all they WANT to know. Good luck and "if you are committed, there is always a way.."

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 7:30PM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

not wanting to get into the fights about kennels, and not wanting to keep the fight going-but i just have to point out one thing-- 99% of the dogs being destroyed in shelters are from people that let their dogs run loose--yes, farm dogs too, and never think of having them spayed-or even confined to their own property. my neighbor has a pack of 17 that is rapidly ruing my garden--no dog laws in mo. no help from the law. can you imagine how this unspayed pack is growing?and --remember, if you have hunting dogs-or farm dogs- they're fine on YOUR place--not mine. lol--now that i've kicked the hornets nest--have you thought about having bee"s? sure, you'll have to watch for, and treat the mites that are giving problems, but farm show was telling about farmers "renting" hives over the summer, to help with pollination. it would pay to check into all the problems first, but this applies to anything. best of luck with your operation.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 8:47AM
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Roberta_z5(Z4/5 IL)

Thanks to all who recommended Joel Salatin's books. I am just finishing "You Can Farm" and am so pumped up and excited about trying the pastured boiler operation at our farm (if we can ever sell our house in the burbs!) I am already doing the whole organic thing with vegetables and flowers and know from experience that pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers are a recipe for failure and just more problems. I have a feeling that Salatin is correct in his thinking that this is a major problem with livestock also.

I guess I'll find out!!! Thanks all again for all of your great information.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 8:10PM
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Cant believe no one suggested raising dogs and cats. LOL

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 3:49AM
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dan_denise(z5b,6a MO)


(I'm not raising dogs!)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 8:03AM
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Jamie_in_Missouri(SW Missouri)

Dan, one thing you've never mentioned and nobody has asked is how much time you will have to spend on whatever you want to do. Do you work off the farm? How bout' your wife? Are your kids ages old enough to help with labor and how many do you have? Is your wife behind you on any money making endeavor you might choose. I saw your member page and it said you moved back to a family farm so I'll assume you own it outright and dont have a home/land payment?

My cousin just started a large scale organic farm near KC. They are taking interns. I'm sure they are full this year but if your interested and think it would be a learning experience you might want next year could be a possibility. I have no idea how long they require you to stay but know they provide you with room and board in exchange for the experience. His wife is a gormet chef so you would not go hungry. I've yet to make it up to see his place but from what I understand it's magnificant. The guest quarters is nicer than most folks home. My cousin "retired" in his 30's and is very well off but grew up on a farm and it's never left his system.

Ceresone, I think you are wanting to stir up something otherwise you would not have posted again. Anyone who has ever lived in the country has had to deal with stray and packed up dogs at one time or another. Some just deal with it differently than others. Your statement on "no dog laws in Missouri" shows your ignorance. If you would go out and buy 1 chicken, put it in a cage in your garden (if you have one) wait for the "pack" to arrive you could eliminate any problem you have as Missouri does have a law regarding dogs after livestock that's been on the books dang near forever.

The majority of the dog problems you speak of come from folks who all move out to a couple of acres and everyone thinks they are farmers/ranchers and do let their dogs run loose. Since your a dog lover and would most likley not want to kill a dog you can go to and order some shotgun shells used for riot control, they are rubber pellets and won't kill and animal but will sting the heck out of it.

For those that thought Bruglover's post was excellent, I'm sure it was if you agreed with it. But if you had read my last post it had nothing to do with what I had written.

Why don't some of you with all the advise get on over to the journal and keep us all entertained with your daily farming/ranching activities. Folks would enjoy it plus it would help provide folks just getting started ideas of what goes on while farming/ranching, the time it involves, plus gives them some possible ideas.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 10:46AM
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I just want to echo the sentiments of basilmom (and DH) and imtoobusy.

Thank heavens for the optimistic out-of-the-box thinkers! My DH and I both come from "old-school" farm families (generation after infinitum) and we live smack-dab in the middle of an old school farming community where everybody is either BIG or fades away into obscurity whilst the big guys shake their heads knowingly. My husband and I both work in town, but finally were able to move back to the country this past year where we wanted to raise our 4 kids. We have 170 acres and will do some "conventional" crop-farming and plan to acquire more land as it becomes available, but also are planning to do some "crazy" things such as organic gardening, fruit orchard, chickens and ducks, small cattle herd (and who knows what other kind of livestock strikes our fancy) and start a reforestation project and tree nursery on our non-tillable land. BOY have we been getting it from every side when the old-timers hear our plans! They seem to take pleasure in the fact that we will SURELY not succeed. We listen to their advice, smile, and turn a deaf ear to the naysaying - we're not necessarily in this to make lots of money, breaking even would be great - we just enjoy the experiences and lifestyle of being (mostly) self-sufficient through our own hard work.

Where would we be if the Wright Bros hadn't thought outside the box? Or Alex G Bell? Or any number of other people/inventors?

As long as you have realistic expectations, have done your research, and won't "loose the farm" with inappropriate investing, then I say GO FOR IT!
Good Luck Dan.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 11:32AM
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dan_denise(z5b,6a MO)

Good to hear back from you. Hope youre getting rested up from the hay.

At the risk of boring everybody, Ill try to give a brief rundown of my situation:
I was a self employed home builder for 16 years running multiple jobs w/ employees and subs. The last 5 years Ive had a desk/computer job where I do a lot of graphic design work (long storysuffice it to say Im a quick study and very adaptable!).
I still have my full time "day job". But I will soon be cutting that to 4 (maybe 3) days a week.

My wife of 19 years is wonderful. She is smart (smarter than me for sure), very frugal (she can take $100 and pay $110 worth of bills with it), and she is very supportive and excited about the farm. She does not work outside the home. She home schools our three sons, ages 12, 7, & 3, makes everything from scratch (even mills her own flour from organic grain she buys through the coop). She cans, bakes, wants to make her own soapshes amazing.

We are living and still working on our new house, built on property "given" to us by her parents. We moved by her family after both my parents were killed in a car accident several years ago. We had lived close to my folks because they were considerably older. But now the boys are growing up on their great grandpas farm. Great grandma lives about 500 feet away, Grandma & Grandpa live down the lane about 1500. Its a nice setting for the boys.

We have very manageable debt and some supplemental income from several sources. I "own" 5 acres and "rent" the balance of the farm, bout 20 acres total with 2 ponds. The infrastructure of the farm is intact but needing repair. I have available 2 good tractors (smaller ones, 8N), brush hogs, plow, disc, harrow, blades, augers, and spreader. There are numerous out buildings and a large barn, but most are filled with many years of junk..

I work till dark most nights on either the garden, property, or our house. I work hard and like getting dirty.

So thats my situation. Got any ideas for me?

We are so thankful for all the encouragement we have been getting!
It makes us think we may be on the right track!

Thanks All!
Dan & Denise

(I am also helping to rebuild my in-laws house after a MAJOR fire last January. Forgot that :) )

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 1:25PM
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basilmom(z5 IN)

Dan, when your wife is ready to learn to make soap, have her email me. I'd be glad to help her out...I have a fair bit of practical knowledge on that subject ;)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 1:34PM
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dan_denise(z5b,6a MO)

Thanks! I know she would love to talk to you about it.
She really appreciated your post (as did I).
And thanks to your DH for the insight and encouragemnt.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 2:40PM
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Tracey -

I make soap too, though, not as much now that I've changed jobs.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 3:07PM
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Jamie_in_Missouri(SW Missouri)

Dan, as of yesterday unless the sky opens up and the temp's stay down the haying is finished for the year. Equipment's put up (but not washed) and the hay is in the barn.

I re-read most all of this thread including your location which sounds about perfect for a market garden. Have you checked yet to see if there are available spaces at the farmers market where your wanting to sell your produce? I know the area we moved from last year had a waiting list as space was limited.

A great book for the market gardener is 'On Good Land', by Michael Abrams. Not so much for the advise given but to inspire you.

I think with the land you have I would concentrate on produce. Have you made any trips to the farmers market and got any ideas on what's selling good and what's not? I'd really start there. No gurantee someone else is not gonna do the same thing and have a supply of it the next year. I'd not concentrate on one single item and attempt to keep a wide assortment of things.

Do you have a truck and trailer to get your stuff to market yet if you decide that's the route your gonna take? Sounds like you have all the other equipment you will need for a market garden.

I have a VERY limited ammount of experience on gardening so it's tough for me to tell you what you need to grow and how much space will be needed for each crop. Sounds like you have plenty of help at home which is nice.

I think your just gonna have to experemient and do some trial and error stuff before you can find your nich' and really get things going.

Heck, a 1-5 acre garden depending on the crop can keep one busy all day almost every day.

I'd go ahead and stay away from livestock except for what you want for your freezer. You don't have enough land to really make a good go of it but you do have enough land to raise your family's and at least one other's plenty of meat including beef, pork, and chicken. Start on some fencing for the cattle, coop's or tractors for the hens, and whatever one has for pigs. My chicken tractors I used to use were of the same size as my raised beds. It looked like I had a bunch of people burried in my garden to folks not familiar with raised bed as there were 13 4x12 raised beds.

One nice thing about a small ammount of livestock will also be if you want to start your kids in 4-H. Great fun come fair time plus the kids make some good money off the sale of their livestock. It's not as big a thing here as where we moved from as there all the kids 4-H animals sold GREAT at the fair and the whole community came out for it. Here it's kinda on the lame side but hopefully it will pick up. Great learning experience for the kids plus they meet others that also have intrests like theirs. FWIW, pigs were the easiest keeping money makers for the 4-H kids but we had great extension agents there that really worked with the kids and helped them pick out whatever they were gonna raise.

I guess in short my advise would be for you to head to the farmers market. Check out the availability to make sure they have room for you, and if they do sign up for next year and if not get put on the waiting list. Make a plan for next years garden. Line out your garden area. Begin amending the soil by making each bed or area specific for what your wanting to grow in it. Get fencing and irrigation in place. Then see what happens! Worse case looking at what you have is you won't have much of a need for a grocery store especially if your wife and kids can some of the veggies.

There are so many ideas out there floating around that one can make money on it makes your head spin. Heck I've got neighbors that raise native grass and wildflowers. Some of thier seed goes for over $600 a pound! I also remember a story of a guy that went around collecting pollen. He collected it from tree's and then sold it to a pharmacetucial company and they used it to make allergy medications. He was only one of a very few in the US that did it and had more work than he could handle. He would of course do most of his work in the spring and simply ask folks with lots of tree's if he could collect some pollen and very rarely did anyone object as it don't hurt the tree. There's more stories out there but you'll just need to find out what will work out best for you and your family.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 4:10PM
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Jan_Hobbs(z6a TN, USA)

I've been a lurker on the farm forum for quite awhile...but couln't resist posting here. We make an income from our farm, which has cows, goats, chickens, and hay...another way.

We live on the Buffalo River in TN...have about 1 mile frontage on the river...and for 15 years we have had a canoe rental and one end of the farm. We started with 12 canoes and are up to 80 now...and it keeps us very busy. Our specialty is churches and families. We changed to a no-alcohol campground about 4 years ago...we got tired of the trouble with all the drunks, and it is very prosperous. When we started the canoe rental our youngest son was 13.

Twice a year we host a plant swap at the campground that was started here on the GW...Last Sat. we had over 75 people at the swap. There will be another one in Oct.

Sometimes you just have to make use of what God has given you to use.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 9:35PM
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cheribelle(Z5 IA)

One year I was laid off for the off season at the greenhouse where I worked. The manager there asked if I wanted to take his stuff to the farmers market. I thought that would probably be lame, but agreed since I didn't have anything else. Well, he offered to pay me 1/4 of the total, I went on Wednesday afternoon, and Saturday morning. His 13 year old daughter went with me. Let me tell you, that was the best money I've ever made! We had the 1st sweet corn of the season, and could not take money and hand out corn fast enough. Very strange to me, so many people have their own gardens and the grocery store is so much easier than a special trip... Well, it surprised the heck out of me. We also had tomatoes, watermelon, cantelope, berries, etc. But that 1st sweet corn was what they were there for. Then the buyers stayed with us thru the season. It was fun.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 11:15PM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

My, My, jamie, didn't mean for you to get your shorts in a uproar, lol. think maybe it's the ignorance of the sheriff, or the lawyer we called, after 40 years of having calves and chickens killed by the neighbors pack of 17 dogs? or, perhaps the game warden when they chased a doe into our back yard after they gutted her?got to have pictues of them, or law enforcement has to see them do it, before anything can be done. and--since its done at night, thats impossible.
the forum is for enjoyment, not to argue, so lets not fight, my previous post was only to show there is two sides to each story.
now, sorry about that folk's, let's get back to making money on the farm.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 9:10AM
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Mag_in_NY(z6 NYC burb)

Just a few thoughts from this non-farming city girl. I don't know if anyone has mentioned selling to restaurants, but I know a lot of farmers in NYC do this. More restaurants are focusing on fresh and local ingredients and might be happy to buy from you.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) was mentioned but not by name. This is when people buy a share of what you grow for the season. Folks receive a portion of whatever is in season each week during the growing season. I'm sure more information is available online.

I grow a few tomatos and beans myself, but I'll be the first on line for local sweet corn or peaches at a farmer's market. It just isn't the same to get them from the store.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 11:07AM
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Oh my God you had to mention REAL peaches!!!! Ahhhh man now I must find some this summer!!! ;o)
And Community Supported Agriculture is indeed what I meant but couldn't recall the name. I'm hoping to do somehing of this sort on the farm. Startin' small but startin' and THATS whats important.
I've also been thinking of tomatoes seedlings in the spring. Not the common ones but the more odd ball types. I bet they would sell some fast.
Now darn it where can I find real peaches (not that cardboard stuff at the winn dixie)?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 7:24PM
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lyndonjack2(z5 ks.)

I am surprised no one has mentioned the old rabbit, earthworm, worm casing/manure combo. Rabbits can be sold as pets or meat, worms for enriching gardens or fishbait, and composted manure by worms as super fertilizer and soil enricher.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 4:52PM
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The problem with the old rabbit/earthworm/worm casing compost thing is marketing, regulations, & public opinion.

Rabbits require as much care as poultry - more I think where butchering is concerned. It's not as easy as it used to be for those who want to sell rabbit as meat - many more regulations now, & most folks decidedly do NOT want to buy meat rabbits live & butcher them themselves. Not to mention rabbit meat will never be as popular in the U.S. as it is in Europe.

And selling fishbait & rabbit/worm manure isn't going to make much mad money these days since the entire country has been turned on to making their own compost - which is a good thing.

Meanwhile, those rabbits still have to be fed, watered, cleaned, etc., etc., etc.

I'd do chickens long before I'd do rabbits.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 7:09PM
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catsoup(zone 6)

My husband works with a man who's wife raises Iguanas (big lizards). He said she is in competition with his cattle income. I guess, according to her husband, she does very well.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 7:36PM
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Personally, I am thinking of selling bushes for hedges. You see them in the catalogs all the time. Bet I could pot 200 small privet bushes in an afternoon and wouldn't cost me anything but the cheap pot. And, I even have an endless supply! No, really, I would not curse anyone with that stuff.

Never thought about iguanas, But I am wondering if you could build an iguaga tractor and put it in your garden. Feed the iguana's at the same time you de-bug your garden.

Seriously, you might get a phone book for your nearest moderate to large town and see what kind of specialty grocery stores are there. We have one here that is always packed. It is more expensive than most grocery stores and it doesn't stock as much stuff, but people love to go there because it has a really nice ambience about it. It almost feels like a "specialty" store. They, like farmer's markets, would probably like to have really fresh, local produce especially if you delivered it. Also, you might want to look at the demographics of those towns. In this region, we are developing a fairly substantial Mexican population, and I understand you can make a tidy sum on meat goats. As others have noted, where you have an oriental population poultry might be a popular choice. It kind of depends on the demongraphics of where you are, the size of the market, and the number of competitors for that market. I think if you sell the animals live you cut out some of the regulatory hassles. I bet there aren't any regulations for iguanas.

Good to see you back, Jamie. Missed you.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 9:49PM
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Enjoyed reading all the posts. Very interesting. I am about to go into the rabbit/earthworm/wormcasting/manure thing. On a very small scale to begin with. I will have ten does and three bucks at the start. I have already talked to a processor who has told me she will take all the rabbits (4-6 pounds 10-12 weeks old) that I can bring her. Worm castings are expensive in this area. Around 15.00 a pound. Rabbit manure is also sold for 20-25 dollars a truck (pick up) bed full (you load). Any manure not sold will definitely be put to use in my raised beds. Also, the earthworms that like to live in the rabbit manure will be added to the raised beds. I will never be rich but heck I will be happy. I love working with rabbits and love veggie gardening. I can even work outside the home some to have spending money...LOL...It is a win-win situation for me.

Dan, let us all know what you come up with and how things work out.

Oh, another idea that I am working on is: We have two casinos here that have very exclusive restaurants so I am working on selling herbs to them but will have to wait and see how this works out.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 4:00PM
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I have a small holding, but under the tax laws since I generate my income through agriculture and make enough to qualify.....I am a farm. I raise chickens and do sell eggs. I don't have a problem, given proper husbandry, making money on the eggs and sales of chicks I incubate. They always pay for themselves or their upkeep anyway.

I have a range of greenhouses, and if you have oil wells on premises and own them so you are not limited to household use of gas, growing can be almost pure profit. I'm reading interesting things about fish culture and if you also have access to a good water source, woudn't discount it.

The obvious one coming to mind is a bed and breakfast on a working farm. Why not?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 6:33PM
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We have some people in our area that charge city folks to come stay in their farm house and watch the cows graze. I am trying the goat thing and have done well selling the offspring. I will get bigger next year and try to do more that just pay for the feed. Most of my other farm stuff is just for fun, horses, chickens.
The one thing I am trying to get off the ground and actually make a profit is a canoe rental business. I have finally done all of the leg work and have started booking customers. I need to advertise more and see if I can get this thing going. I have a webstie, brochures, links on other websites dealing with tourism. Any suggestins on how to market this business???

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 2:15PM
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I haven't visited this thread for quite a while, but just saw an article that you might be interested in. It is in Today's Farmer by MFA and is titled Goat Numbers Grow with Markets. This is the Nov, 2005 issue. I haven't read the entire article but the sentence "Meat goats are the fastest-growing animal enterprise in the country today" caught my attention. It might be worth checking out especially if you are in an area with a large population of eithnic customers such as Hispanic, Middle Easterners, Caribbean Islanders, Muslims, Jews, etc. Another plus is they want live animals, so no slaughter. Might be worth checking out.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2005 at 9:15AM
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Alot of info on this old thread. How about some up-dates?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 10:08AM
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Replying on all the dog comments! Before you go after those who breed purebred dogs and sell them, go Chase after those who don't get their males and females fixed. It's not just the males that should be fixed. Let's do more spaying don't go and blame just the males. Also don't breed your dog just to get a new dog , ull get more, and please stop harassing the breeders just cuz their easy to contact and spend more time find the irresponsible owners. Maybe do a twice a yr nueturing and spaying clinics all over for super cheap. I breed dogs and I'm.proud of everyone of them , and I won't stop. But I am doin a new thing and working with my vets on it. I sell the dog a tad cheaper but comes with contract on they have to get the dog fixed before age 1 and they get a big discount using my vet. So please keep your complaints away from licensed breeders.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 8:51PM
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Replying on all the dog comments! Before you go after those who breed purebred dogs and sell them, go Chase after those who don't get their males and females fixed. It's not just the males that should be fixed. Let's do more spaying don't go and blame just the males. Also don't breed your dog just to get a new dog , ull get more, and please stop harassing the breeders just cuz their easy to contact and spend more time find the irresponsible owners. Maybe do a twice a yr nueturing and spaying clinics all over for super cheap. I breed dogs and I'm.proud of everyone of them , and I won't stop. But I am doin a new thing and working with my vets on it. I sell the dog a tad cheaper but comes with contract on they have to get the dog fixed before age 1 and they get a big discount using my vet. So please keep your complaints away from licensed breeders.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 9:41PM
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I am new to this I was wanting to get someone elses point of view on this would you want to buy a broiler already processed bird for $4.50lb or buy a live bird and process it yourself and only pay 4-3 a bird i would think more people would buy th elive bird rather than wanting to buy a bird for $4.50 a pound.. Thanks Allen

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 6:57PM
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We raise texas longhorns,its like anything do your reserch,like the longhorns the meat is great better than chicken but you must butcher early rather than later in cows life.
I saw a purple longhorn,I want one ,we saw it in a pasture then the guys wife caught him cheating took the farm,sold everything,havent seen once since.Beautiful.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 9:27PM
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miscindy(5 SW MI)

I learned so much from reading this thread during my lunch period this afternoon. So many great ideas! It would be great to see follow-ups now that the original post is a few years old. DAN-DENISE: How are things going? What did you end up doing? Others who were getting started, what did you try? What were the outcomes?

I am a teacher full-time, but dabble in a lot of things on the side: soap making, natural deodorant, lotion, vegetable gardening, growing berries and have most recently acquired a small (5) flock of laying hens. I have only sold a few dozen eggs to people I know, other than that, I've not sold anything else. I am wondering if trying to sell items at the farmer's market would be worth all the time and effort since it would be in addition to my regular job. I know I don't have enough hens right now to sell many eggs-we eat most of what we get. I am going to "test" these hens for a full year before I determine if I want to get more hens next spring.

Please update with continuing or new stories!! :)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 2:47PM
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Go after it! If you're looking to make a side business of it, considering a couple things. First, SCORE mentoring is a free program: They can help you with a business plan if you really want to grow your business.

If that is the case, also consider incorporating or forming a business entity. That way, you have "authority" to do business, and can also potentially attain tax benefits.

Here is more information:

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:45PM
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Why do all of you "anti puppy-mill" folks seem to be the same. Your brains seem to have fallen out as you wide-swath the whole industry with the same red paintbrush.

Now don't get me wrong. I do not endorse mistreating dogs or following the practices that some unethical breeders follow. And those breeders should be shut down. But those breeders are NOT the majority! They are the minority, and you folks can't seem to get that.

Instead you say ANYBODY who wants to breed dogs is a "puppy-mill", and you discourage people from entering the business. Wrong! Get a clue. Most of the folks that would enter into such a business love and take care of their breeding dogs.

If you want to get rid of the bad breeders, you do it by encouraging good breeders. And there ARE A LOT OF THEM. When people start buying from the reputable breeders who care for their dogs / cats, the bad breeders will fade away because nobody buys from them.

I would love to breed dogs myself. But I won't because of people like you. I'm not going to fight the politics, even though I take fantastic care of every dog I own. I know a lot about dogs. And I would take just as good care of dogs purchased for breeding. They would be a happy pack of pets, enjoying lots of land to run and play. But no, I won't put up with the headaches of the politics.

And by the way -- reality is there ARE "big ticket" breeds. Just because you can make money breeding a specific type of dog does NOT make it wrong!

Now I'll hop off my soapbox.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 2:33PM
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    Bookmark   February 12, 2015 at 12:03PM
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I remember someone told me once, meat goats have quick turn around on money making, 7-8 months. What about having a Rex Rabbit farm, their fur is really soft, and makes good money. Good luck! :-)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2015 at 4:34PM
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Can you grow persimmon trees? Those are really expensive in the stores-$3.00 each!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2015 at 6:50PM
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Agri-tourism is popular here. Add a few tenting sites to the shady grassy areas, put in a few outhouses and a couple of outdoor/solar showers. If you have the level gravel or paved areas, add some RV sites. Boost your wifi to cover the area.

    Bookmark   last Thursday at 6:58PM
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1) Start a small nursery. You can grow thousands of seedlings and cuttings with little property. I made a lot of money one year selling all my plants locally. I had 14 acres and a lot of full garden space when we decided to move. I had a couple of garage sales with mostly plants in the spring when people were buying and I posted the rest for sale on Kijiji and other local buy-and-sell places. I got a lot of response. The money I made was a real eye opener! I have since thought that I would like to do that again, as a business, when I have time again. Maybe approach some local sellers with a list of what you have for sale. Perennial food plants sell very well, i.e. berries, asparagus, rhubarb...

2) Do some decorative landscaping and have weddings there. I've had some calls from people interested in having them here but we are just not set up for that, nor do we have the time, but it's big money.

3) If you have a good location on your property, start a farmer's market. Rent out spaces, that way you get paid no matter what. Do a lot of advertising ahead of time, like the previous summer, fall and winter. You may need to upgrade your insurance for that. Or have a fair on your property, like a fall fair through the Chamber of commerce and ADVERTISE, renting out booths and tenting spaces for renters.

4) Put a small market booth at the end of your driveway or build a small shed or open pole barn, roof only and have an open store there on the weekends. In addition to your produce and eggs you can make crafts, grapevine wreaths, organic farm soap, jams-jellies, syrup, dried herbs, handmade jewelry, garden ornaments, bat and bird houses, etc. etc. The list of things you could sell there is long. Advertise your stuff in a buy-and-sell area that will get people out there. Make a large A-frame sign for the street corners. You can keep the produce and a few items there through the week with a self-pay system.

5) Start a CSA and ADVERTISE.

6) Bees. Use top bar hives for more beeswax. It's worth more than the honey. You can sell bars of the wax online.

7) Start a hatchery. Sell them in your store or online and ship to people. ADVERTISE.

    Bookmark   17 hours ago
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