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Small Farms Income – Produce And By-Products

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Selling your products at a farmer’s market can produce a good income. But if your homestead is far from town, it might not be worth the time to drive there and back (as well as stand there to make sales or pay someone to stand there!).  Consider the following options to earn income from both produce and products.

Set up a Produce Stand

If your homestead is on a highway or road that gets a fair amount of traffic, you can set up a produce stand at the edge of your property. In many places it can operate on an honesty system and be left completely unattended. Just leave produce out for people to take, and a lockbox bolted down where they can insert money.

road side stand
Produce stand

Dairy produce

Raw Cow’s or Goat’s Milk

More and more people are seeking raw milk because of its health benefits. This means selling raw milk can be a lucrative farming venture if you know what you are doing.

Goat milk is more like human milk than cows’ milk. And because of this, it can be much better for you and easier to digest. Some people who have problems with cow milk don’t have issues drinking goat milk. And raw goat milk can be even better because of all of the probiotics it contains.

Note: Raw milk laws vary state by state so you need to have a good understanding of what your state allows before you get started.

Sell Cheese, Butter, and Other Dairy Products

If you have dairy cows or goats, you could of course sell your milk. But why not put in a little extra work to create value-added products out of it?

Think about cream, butter, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, cottage cheese and other products that can all be made from your own cow’s or goat’s milk. Locally produced cheese, especially cheese in the gourmet category, can be particularly popular. Becoming a cheese maker could become the main source of income for your homestead if you’re good at it and do it on a large enough scale.

Manure

All forms of manure can be bagged for sale to the public and nurseries – rabbit, horse, cow or chicken manure. (The smell of pig manure is a disadvantage in some contexts but can be overcome.) If you tend to keep your livestock in one location during the winter, you could gather up their waste in the spring and turn it into fertilizer to use or sell. Horse, cow and chicken manure needs to be composted before people can use it in their gardens. But rabbit manure has a specific benefit that it doesn’t need to be broken down in this way before it can be used in gardens. Plus it’s very high in nitrogen and phosphorus. If you’re producing large amounts of manure, you might try approaching your local garden center to see if they’re open to buying it in bulk. That way you can unload truckloads of the stuff at a time.

In most places you can sell manure for $5 per pound or more. Not bad considering it’s a literal waste product!

Compost

Compost is an extremely important component of most people’s gardening and farming activities. Do you make your own compost? Why not consider making more than you already do and sell off the excess? You could either create your own by using your leftover scraps, yard waste, and garden waste. Alternatively you could buy composting materials from nearby farms and make larger batches.

Straw or hay

If you have a larger farm and pastures that aren’t being used, you could consider buying or hiring a hay baler to turn those pastures into bales. But if you can’t invest in that equipment yet, people will pay to collect your hay and take it away for you. You could even consider growing organic alfalfa or other grasses so you can ask a premium for your straw or hay.

Straw and hay have many uses and you should be able to find markets, e.g.:
– Other farmers need it as feed and bedding for their animals;
– Gardeners may use it as a mulch;
– Mushroom farmers use straw as a growing strata;
– Small hay bales can even be sold to contribute to décor and as seating at rural events.

hay bale

Livestock feed

There are two options when it comes to selling livestock feed.

  1. Create your own feed to sell – growing or buying the individual components and mixing it yourself.
  2. Resell feed, with a mark-up, from a local mill, especially if you are located in an area where the closest feed mill is far enough away that people wanting to buy a few bags here and there don’t want to drive to it.

And it works even better if you are selling organic or non-GMO feed that is hard to find at a local store.

Fiber Producing Animals

Animals such as angora goats, sheep and alpaca produce fiber.  You would not need to do the shearing and spinning yourself – you can hire out that part of the business.  It would be possible to sell raw fiber.

There are many different types of wool that are used to produce many different types of fabric. If you are interested in selling wool, make sure you choose a breed of sheep that produce a type of wool that is in high demand.

Sorghum molasses

Sorghum molasses is a sweet, sugary, brown syrup that comes from the sorghum plant. It was much more popular a century ago than now, especially in the southern US, but it has a market for use on biscuits and pancakes, and in baking

Maple syrup

Do you have maple trees on your farm or even your backyard? Tapping, collecting, and boiling maple syrup can be a lot of work but can also be very rewarding. And boiling maple sap over an open flame from firewood you collect from your property can give the maple syrup a unique flavor.

Peanut butter

Peanut butter is delicious and loaded with nutrients and has great business potential. If you are not growing peanuts yourself you can either purchase them in relative bulk when the price is good. You need a peanut butter grinding machine to process/mill the peanut butter with an output capacity appropriate for the size of enterprise you have in mind. You will also need a roaster (though you can use a microwave or domestic oven if you are operating on a small scale).

Peanuts are not the only option for making ‘butters’ – you could go vegan-dairy and make products from nuts and seeds.

Firewood

Do you have woods on your property? Or you might want to be clearing some land for crop planting. And do you have a chainsaw and a wood splitter? If so, you should consider adding firewood to your farm products. Firewood harvesting can be a great to generate additional revenue on your farm in the winter as the rest of your farm activities slow down.

Individuals with fireplaces will buy large piles of firewood at once. During the summer, you can create smaller bundles of firewood to sell to campers who drive by your homestead

Feathers

If you are raising any type of poultry you can have a side-line collecting, cleaning and selling feathers. They are in demand for craft making activities, jewelry making, hat-making, fishing flies, etc. Packs of assorted feathers can be sold to infant schools and school art departments.

guinea fowl feather
Feather of guinea fowl

Note: dollar amounts mentioned are given at time of publishing and subject to change.

Please see the Earnings Disclaimer associated with these articles.

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