Many people dream of homesteading, yet don’t pursue it because they fear it won’t be self-supporting. But, there are many ways a homestead can be profitable and can supplement or even replace a person’s current income.
Common income streams on the homestead include selling eggs, firewood, jams and jellies, and vegetable seedlings. Less traditional sources of income can include starting a backyard plant nursery, selling worm castings, and raising grass-fed meat.
In my four decades on the homestead, I’ve found many proven ways to generate much-needed income for my family. Let me share with you what I have learned.
Some of the things discussed will require a larger Homestead, such as raising livestock, but many of these ideas are perfect for smaller properties and only require Ingenuity, Entrepreneurship, and hard work. You’ve got that!
I’ll start with some of the more common ideas. But, just because they are a little more obvious, don’t discount their ability to bring in extra income.
Explore The Local Farmer’s Market
Spend a little time going through your local farmers market and you will see many items that you can make yourself. Things like baked goods, such as bread, cookies, brownies, and cakes sell for a premium at a farmers market.
If you have baking skills, especially if you have some interesting and innovative recipes, this might just be what people are looking for. Check with your local codes to find out what can and cannot be sold from a home kitchen, but in many areas, you should be able to sell your baked goods to the public. Just think of all the items you have taken to the church social, and the great comments you got on them.
Hopefully, you don’t live in an area with a lot of codes and restrictions. If that is the case, consider making jelly and jam for sale at the Farmers Market. But don’t let that be your only outlet. You can also take things like those and sell them in the workplace also.
I can’t tell you how many things I bought from friends at work that they made at home. Perhaps that is because I (unfortunately) have an enormous sweet tooth, and was a sucker for anyone with a cookie tray.
Even if you are in an area with codes and restrictions most of them will not cover things like soap. There are many people who make soap and sell it at farmer’s markets, on Amazon, on the internet through their own websites, and other places.
Soap making is very easy, at least it’s easy to learn how to do it. I know that because I have actually made soap. My wife is never made soap, but I have! I found it to be a fascinating process, and the soap I made was really good. This was just a simple lye soap with very little fragrance added, but I enjoyed using it, and frankly wish I had made more.
So, soap making can generate much-needed revenue, while also cutting down on the products you buy at the store. And, those soaps will last a lot longer than what you buy at the store. I don’t know what they have done in the last few years to make soap melt away so quickly, but homemade soap has the power to last.
There are many soap making books that can walk you through the operation, and can help guide you through the soap making process, and make you a Pro in no time.
Another product you can make, and I think this might be safe from the “code police”, is cheese. I have gone to a cheese making class and yes, I know they were making a very simple type of cheese, but it really was not difficult at all. So, consider making cheese as a revenue source, again checking with local codes.
Okay, so all of those things would probably be done inside the home. Let’s start looking at a few things that would be done outside the home, but are not necessarily just for guys.
Obviously, at a farmers market, you’re going to see farm-related products. Various kinds of vegetables are the most common things that a homesteader would take. But that is not all.
Consider The Humble Honey Bee
I cannot imagine a creature more interesting than the honey bee. At one time I had five hives of bees and what I learned from that experience makes me in complete awe of them as a species. As soon as they are born they go to work, and they work until they absolutely wear themselves out.
They literally work themselves to death. I’m amazed at the way they direct their teammates to a new nectar source, the way they choose a new Queen, and their sheer dedication to their job. It is absolutely fascinating.
And along with beekeeping can come financial reward. Raw honey is something readily sold in Farmer’s Markets, or in stores and along the side of the road. And there is a great demand for it. One large hive could produce 30 or 40 lb of honey, and at $8 or $10 per pint, that’s quite a bit of money.
Beekeeping is not inexpensive though. It takes quite a bit of equipment to get started. Proper protective clothing, honey extraction equipment, and the hive boxes themselves can set you back a few hundred dollars. Plus, the bees themselves are not cheap. At least your first hive won’t be cheap.
After you have your first successful hive you can probably get your bees for free. As a hive grows large, generally it is “split”, meaning they take some bees out of that hive and start a new hive. That could mean your second hive of bees comes without cost, except for their wooden homes.
Also, once you become familiar with bees and feel comfortable around them, you can start a business of “bee removal”. This is typically in the spring but can also move into the early summer. Removing unwanted bees from someone else’s property can be pretty lucrative, and also means that you are getting a new hive of free bees.
Income From Chickens
There are many ways to make money from raising chickens. The most obvious way is by selling eggs. I have been selling eggs off and on for probably 30 years. Currently, I have nine laying hens and a rooster. They provide me with anywhere from 4 to 9 eggs per day, depending on the season.
I have no problem selling them at $3 a dozen, and could probably charge more. Mine would be considered free-range eggs since my chickens have a huge area to forage in. Yes, I could probably get more than $3 per dozen.
Many people get four or five dollars per dozen for free-range eggs. My eggs are not organic, meaning I do not feed a ration that is labeled “organic”. Free-range organic eggs can probably fetch more than $5 per dozen, but organic feed is at least twice as expensive as a traditional chicken ration.
I have no problem selling my eggs. I could sell more if I had more chickens, and in the past have had up to 25 laying hens at a time. So, selling eggs is a great way to make money on the homestead. And the price you get per dozen will determine how profitable they will be for you.
Usually, people stop by my farm and buy the eggs but in the past, I have carried countless cartons to work and sold them there. My wife also has carried eggs to work and sold them to her friends. So what I’m saying is this, you shouldn’t have any problem selling your eggs unless you overprice them.
Around the middle of summer, I looked and I already had about $300 in my egg money envelope for the first 6 months of the year. I don’t typically keep up with how much I spend on feed until the end of the year, but, I would imagine that in a $3 carton of eggs my cost is much less than 1 dollar.
But eggs are not the only way to make money from chickens. consider selling hatching eggs. “Hatching eggs” are eggs that you produce on your farm from your chickens that have been fertilized by your rooster. For these eggs to be a desirable commodity your chickens would have to be a purebred variety. Hatching eggs are sold for a much larger price then eggs that would be included in someone’s breakfast, even though they are the exact same egg.
The only difference would be that you would handle it a little differently. An egg set aside for “hatching” should not be placed in a refrigerator, but should be kept at room temperature until they are ready for sale. I’ve seen hatching eggs go around $10 a dozen for a breed of chicken that is rare and desirable. So if you are considering selling eggs for hatching, you will need to take the “breed” into consideration when you purchase your chickens.
Buy a breed of chicken that is in demand, and when they start laying you can either sell the eggs for eating or sell the eggs for hatching. At least you have two options instead of one. I’ve never sold hatching eggs, but I see them all the time on Craigslist and other places.
Another income stream from having chickens on your homestead is selling baby chicks. Again, you would have to own a breed of chicken that is sought after. Characteristics in chickens that are sought-after are good meat producers (chickens that gain weight quickly), and good egg producers.
One other breed that is highly sought-after in the chicken industry would beGame Chickens. It’s not something I know much about because most of them are bred for fighting, but they are expensive to buy and would be profitable to sell.
To sell purebred baby chicks all you will need is an inexpensive incubator and a brooder. You can set up a brooder on your own very easily from a cardboard box or other enclosure. That does not have to be elaborate. However, don’t try to incubate eggs on your own. You will need an incubator for that.
To start out small scale I would suggest you buy one similar to these incubators at Amazon. It will incubate chicken, quail and duck eggs, and the incubation process for chicks only takes about 3 weeks. The profit ratio on hatching eggs is multiplied exponentially. Why? Because those baby chicks sell for two or three dollars EACH instead of the $3 per dozen you would have received for just the eggs.
One other way to make Homestead income from chickens would be to raise them for meat. You could either do that for your own consumption, saving money on your food bill. Or, you can raise them for sale to the public. Check with your local regulations as to whether or not you would be able to butcher them yourself, package them, freeze them and sell them from your homestead.
Some of the best information on raising pastured chickens are from books by Joel Salatin. He is The Guru on all things pastured. He is an amazing man and an amazing author.
Other fowl that can be sold on your homestead would be ducks or quail. Either of these options could be more even more profitable than chickens. While Ducks would rather have some sort of water feature to play in, Quail can actually be raised in your garage or barn. Quail take up very little room, are very prolific, and bring an excellent price on the market.
Consider A Backyard Nursery
I have found that one of the easiest income generating things to do on the homestead is to propagate plants. I have an entire Playlist on My YouTube Channel dealing with plant propagation. All the propagating I have done have been for plants that produce an edible product, However, more income could probably be derived from propagating ornamental plants. They seem to be a much bigger market, and probably have fewer varieties that are patented.
And that’s one thing you have to be careful of, the propagation of “patented plants”. Older varieties are typically not patented but many new varieties are, and therefore are prohibited from propagating for sale. As I understand the patent laws, you can propagate them for your own use but not for sale. That’s what I understand, but please check that out on your own to make sure.
There is huge money in propagating plants. And, it is so simple anyone can do it, and you don’t need a lot of land to do that. It can easily be done in a small backyard. Edible plants that I have found simple to propagate are Grapes, Blackberries, Muscadines, Kiwi, Figs, and others. Here’s an article I wrote detailing Plant Propagation
And here is a video I did showing the results of my propagated grapes.
Similar to propagation is the art of grafting. Grafting is not something that I’ve ever done, but it is something that I want to learn how to do. To make a graft, you take a cutting from a tree that you would like to reproduce, and graft it to a rootstock that is better suited for the viability of the mature tree.
Most fruit trees are grafted to a root stock other than what the cutting was made from. Root stock is readily available, and you can take the cuttings from your own fruit trees or from your neighbors that have fruit trees (of course, make sure you ask first).
Selling Vegetable Seedlings
Watching a plant grow from seed is an amazing sight and something I never get tired of. But those seedlings are also a desirable commodity. If you don’t believe me, go to Lowe’s or Home Depot in the spring and see how much they are getting for a six-pack of tomato plants or pepper plants. The prices of seedlings are getting ridiculous, so why not capitalize on that?
With a small Greenhouse, you can raise hundreds of seedlings to sell to the public. I have a Greenhouse Design that makes that possible at a very low cost. This small Greenhouse can be built for about $150, but I have raised over 2,500 vegetable plants in it at one time. I used some of those seedlings in my own garden but sold the rest. In fact, the seedlings I sold paid for my Greenhouse.
Check out my Greenhouse design on this page and see if it’s something that would be helpful to your homestead. No matter what woodworking skill level you have, you can build this Greenhouse. Even if you are only raising plants for your own garden, a greenhouse can be a wonderful addition and can stretch the growing season by about a month, both before and after the typical growing season in your area.
Building things with your own hands is a very rewarding thing. Being skilled in woodworking is probably one of the better things you can learn to do. As I’ve said before in another article about developing skills, almost every structure you build on the homestead will be built with wood. Therefore, you would be well served to acquire a few tools and to begin developing woodworking skills, if you don’t already possess them.
Woodworking as an income stream would typically consist of building smaller projects such as planters, swings, birdhouses, wall art, and other things. Also, if you haven’t already, take a look (above) at the greenhouse I designed. This is something that you can build for about $150 and be able to sell for several hundred dollars.
Sell Worms And Worm Castings
Worms are more in demand right now than they probably ever have been, and worms are pretty darn easy to raise. On a small scale, very little specialized equipment is needed. You can make a worm bin from a Rubbermaid tote that you would buy at The Big Box store.
Selling worms may be pretty self-explanatory, but you may not know what worm castings are. Worm castings are Worm Poop and they are one of, if not the best organic fertilizer money can buy. Red wigglers are the worm of choice for those that have worm farms producing worm castings.
Bags of worm castings (worm poop) fetch a lot of money. and again, starting small you can see if this is something you wanted to do for profit or just for your own garden fertilization. Another added stream would be raising worms for the fishing industry. Live bait is always a strong seller. So, don’t discount the profitability of the lowly worm.
Let’s Get Big!
So far everything I have discussed can be done on a very small piece of property. Even raising chickens can be done in a small backyard assuming your city does not have an ordinance against them.
Now let’s move up and talk about income streams on larger pieces of property.
If you have a few acres, you can raise sheep or goats. Goats can have several income streams generating from them. First of all, you can raise goats and sell their offspring… their kids. As was the case with selling baby chicks, the most sought after breeds, and the best bloodlines will probably be in greater demand than the more commonplace stock.
A huge market for goats has sprung up in the United States. There are many ethnic groups that prefer goat meat over beef and chicken and actively seek goats for their cuisine. Both Hispanic and Islamic groups consume a lot of goat meat and often use them in their festivals and religious practices.
The point I’m trying to make is this, you will probably never have a problem selling young goats. So, they remain an excellent source of Homestead Income and should only grow in the future.
Also, you can sell goat’s milk and cheese. Some states are very restrictive of selling unpasteurized milk, so you’ll have to check with local laws. You can also make a wonderful soap with it. Just another thing you can do with goat’s milk.
Bottle-fed calves was a source of income from me when I first started my Homestead. At first, I raised them with an actual bottle and a calf “milk-Replacer” powdered mixture. Then, I discovered the wonderful world of the nurse cow. Typically a nurse cow will be a Jersey cow that is so gentle she will allow calves (other than her own) to nurse her. She is worth her weight in gold. Well, almost.
Here’s how I went about this. First of all, a cow has to have a calf to produce milk. So I bought a pregnant Jersey cow, waited for her to have her baby, then within a day or two, I would buy several day old calves to add to her. A dairy cow, such as a Jersey, produces so much milk that one calf is not enough to drain her udder. She has plenty of milk for multiple calves.
The cow I had… “Susie”, would take a little bit of training to get her to readily accept the “foreign” calves. I would just feed her every morning before work and let the calves in with her. I might have to tap her once or twice with a stick if she tried to kick at them, but within a day or two, she accepted them readily.
And within a week or so I could let them all out in the pasture without worrying about her rejecting them. Then, when those calves got up about four or five months old, I would sell them and buy more calves for her to nurse. So yes, I nursed EIGHT calves off one Jersey cow in a year.
One alternate method would be to milk the dairy cow and feed that milk to the calves in bottles, but that was more labor-intensive than what I was willing to do.
When purchasing a nurse cow make sure she has done the whole “nurse cow” thing before. A farmer that is wanting to sell a cow could be a little unscrupulous and tell you that she is gentle enough to nurse “foreign” calves, but he might be a little dishonest about that. Not all cows will do that, but a Jersey cow is one of the more gentle and is known for being a good nurse cow.
The U-Pick Berry Patch
Consider a U-Pick Blackberry, Raspberry or Blueberry business. I had a blackberry U-Pick business for several years. I only had about a quarter of an acre in blackberries, but the first year I made around $3000 cash. That’s a lot of money from only 1/4 acre! A lot of revenue can be made using the U-Pick business structure if you are close to a city that would have the population to support it. My closest city had a population of about 80,000.
Larger Property Income Streams
If you have a large piece of property there are many other ways to monetize it. If you have a large stand of timber, many of those trees can be cut and sold. I have heard many instances where someone bought a piece of property, sold the timber off that property, and paid their property off. The sellers of the property had no idea that the timber was worth more than they were asking for the land itself.
If you have good topsoil you could also sell it. Topsoil obviously is a very sought-after commodity. With the housing boom that is going on right now, there are many yards to be established and much landscaping to be done. So if you have a piece of property with a lot of good soil on it, you could sell that soil.
One good scenario for this would be if you have a low place with a creek nearby you could sell the soil from it, and while digging the soil you could actually be digging a pond. That could be a win-win situation. You have a lot of dirt to get rid of from digging your pond, and you have a dump truck there waiting for it to take it away.
Also, if you have a larger acreage that is fenced-in, you can lease it for cattle grazing. If it is not fenced, you can lease it for hay production. That doesn’t necessarily mean you will be bailing the hay yourself, but I guarantee you there is someone close to you that would love to have a good hay pasture to cut and bale the hay.
You can either keep the hay and feed it to your livestock, or if you do not own livestock he will purchase the hay from you in the form of leasing the pasture. Most good hay producers will also fertilize it for you because it makes the hay they cut more valuable for them to sell. If you’re not using the land for grazing yourself, leasing it for hay production is a pretty good deal for you to consider.
Boarding horses is another good way to generate income from your homestead. As a general rule, you will have to have good fencing, and have stalls and shelters for the horses. The horse owners will expect that. People pay a lot of money to board their horses and you can capitalize on that, especially if you enjoy being around horses anyway.
If you do want to raise your own livestock then you would probably want to start a cow-calf operation, or raising sheep or goats. As I mentioned before, ethnic changes in the population of the United States has increased the demand for goats, but also for sheep.
I raised sheep for several years and found them very enjoyable, and fairly trouble-free. I raised what are called “Hair Sheep”, specifically Katahdin sheep. In this article, I write about the advantages of raising hair sheep over wooled sheep.
Grass-fed meats of all varieties are highly sought-after now. There are many farms that butcher and package their own grass-fed meat and sell it to the public. They command a much greater price for fresh from the farm grass-fed meat than you will pay at the grocery store. This could be an amazing income generator for someone who has a larger piece of property.
Whether your property is large or small, I hope you have found something in this article that will inspire you to become a Homestead Entrepreneur. The rewards are more than just Financial, they are inspirational.
To enjoy an income stream originating from your own property is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Also, you will be developing a vast set of skills in the process. Whether they are woodworking skills, animal husbandry skills, or land management, you will be much wiser, and better equipped to run your homestead and household, from having learned them.
My YouTube Channel has around 800 Videos dealing with all aspects of Homestead Life. Check it out.