A reader recently asked if I was making money on the farm yet, and was considering a small farm to supplement his own income. I promised that I’d write a post on making money on a small farm.
This isn’t an easy topic, because there are SO many variables. You have to figure in your costs of producing whatever it is you want to sell, how much of it you can produce, how much money you can sell it for, who your target market is, how much it’s going to cost you to sell it, how you’re going to reach your market. You also have to consider things that can cut into your income, or even cause a total loss. Farming isn’t the same as manufacturing – illness or predators or drought can wipe out everything, and often there is nothing you can do to prepare, plan for, or prevent it.
I will say that I didn’t get into this to make money. No one should, in my opinion. That’s not to say that you can’t make money at it, but … if money is your only goal, I really believe you’d probably be happier, more satisfied, less stressed, and wealthier if you just get a job.
I love what I do, but if I didn’t enjoy it, I’d have a much harder time getting up every two hours through the night to check on a first-time expectant mother, or to feed an orphaned baby. I would resent having to be home most of the time to make sure the animals are cool enough in the summer heat, or milked on time. And believe me, it’s not glamorous … there is a lot of sweat, blood, and manure involved.
But. I do love it. There is a great satisfaction in seeing an animal thrive that you pulled through an illness. Watching the herd grow, with babies capering around and coming to be scratched and patted. Listening to the contented trilling of the poultry as you lock them in for the night. And the work is fairly routine, giving me a lot of time with my thoughts as I go about my chores. The animals are an endless source of amusement as well, with their own personalities and quirks.
Now, with that out of the way … this subject could still be a book.
First, there are costs involved. Housing, stock, feed, and equipment will be the main expenses, and possibly medicines/veterinary services.
Because this is so long, I’ll address these topics in a series out of this. Immediately following will be housing and fencing, but I have to get back to work, LOL. Always more to do around here!