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Homestead Income Streams and Self-Sufficiency Plan for goal: RETIREMENT  RSS feed

 
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
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I’m trying to flesh out some thoughts/ideas and thought I’d post here to see what other’s might contribute to the process.

Currently, I homestead “part time” and work a desk job full time. I hate my desk job, to be frank, but I don’t have options in this area so sticking where I am is necessary until I can make a go of things on the homestead without it. I’d like that day to be sooner than later but I’m giving myself a target date of June 2, 2025, the day I turn 62 and eligible to draw Social UnSecurity. That gives me 10.5 years to build a secure retirement for myself.

My homestead is .6 acres located near the southern coast of North Carolina in zone 8a. I have a small cottage that needs serious repairs at the moment. I have ducks, chickens, and rabbits but am in the process of upsizing to make these viable income/trade streams. I’d be interested in goats but don’t think I can fit milking schedules into my current schedule so that may be something I trade for (goat’s milk) until I retire and have the time for milking. I don’t have a beehive but intend to get one as soon as I can fit the startup costs into my budget. Because of the size of my homestead and that I homestead alone (well, my elderly mother lives with me) I need to stick to small "livestock" and projects manageable by one person.

Here are some lists that I’ve put together…(* means it is something I need to learn or an animal I don’t yet have on the homestead)

Pantry Stock:
• Food (2+ years)
• Medicinals
• Household supplies
• Other? (clothing? Shoes? Tools?)

Potential Income Streams:
• Egg sales (duck, chicken, quail?*)
• Herbs (fresh)
• Herbs (tinctures, salves, ointments, oils)*
• Egg shells (to artists)
• Carved egg shells*
• Ducklings (heritage/rare)
• White “Doves” (white homing pigeons*) for funerals and weddings*
• Worms for fishing
• Frozen newborn bunnies to reptile owners*
• Rabbit furs
• Associate affiliates*
• Honey*
• Beeswax candles*
• Willow baskets*

Skills:
• Spinning* (know how to spin on drop spindle; need to learn to use a wheel)
• Knitting
• Tanning*
• Smoking meats*
• Carving*
• Writing (articles; blogs. I’m a good writer but lack the “voice of authority”…)
• Coaching (nutrition/wellness)*
• Basketweaving*

Food Sourcing:
• Foraging*
o Fishing
o Clamming
• Home production
o Eggs
o Meat (duck, rabbit, quail*, squab*, goat*)
o Milk (goat*)
o Fruit (Plums, Peaches*, Blackberries, Elderberries, Blueberries*, Figs*, Muscadines*)
o Vegetables (Spring, Summer, Fall gardens)
o Herbs (culinary, medicinal)
• Trade*
o Deer
o Fish
o Oysters

Okay...now, put on your thinking caps...ready....set....go!
 
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Wow...
You are a busy woman with ambition. Your list is long. Personally, I would go with more chickens, rabbits and bees along with some seasonal fruits and veggies. That way you have an income almost all year and the critters won't be bigger than you. Add your knitting and hand crafting and you would round it out fairly well. Also blogging with advertising and selling on a website with an amazon affiliate would add a bit more income.
Your list actually reads a lot like mine. If you were closer I would be at your elbow. lol
It's always good to have a plan.
Good Luck.
Kirsten

 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
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aaahhh....it would be nice to have a permie buddy close by to work together on projects!

I need to be systematic and not try to do it all at once...that list includes a good many things I need to learn so I figure I need to pick one or two things and develop the skill set(s) and then pick another.

I'm driving by the fact that every day I sit at my desk at work I think "there has to be a better way....I wanna be a stay-at-home farm girl!!" so...that's my goal and my motivation.
 
Posts: 263
Location: Eastern Canada, Zone 5a
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Finding a market for willow baskets is problematic but there seem to be a lot of folks interested in trying to do that. Help them do it - sell willow rods or rather cuttings so that they can start their own willow plantings to have the rods for their basketry. Willow is easy to grow. Your input costs are nil after the original stock. You can sell online. You can keep your costs down by mailing once a week. It has lots of uses besides rods. If you have excess material, send it to ramial wood chips and/or the compost pile.

Using willow as the model, you could sell comfrey (Bocking 4 and Bocking 14), fruit tree rootstock, grafted fruit trees, nut trees that can be propagated from cuttings (you get a tree faster than from seed), vegetable and flower seeds from your garden. This nursery is a byproduct of your day-to-day needs. Doug Bullock provides a brilliant how-to: http://www.permacultureportal.com/article_nursery.html. Based on my experience in producing the plants that we plant on our property, it's clear to me that he is/was doing what he's writing about. He even gives you a key tool that you need in his first reference. This is my main go-to for woody plant propagation.

Once you learn how to propagate plants, you have a free source that you can leverage in many ways. For example, if you are going to sell grafted fruit trees, you're going to become knowledgeable and proficient at grafting. Knowledge married to experience is a very marketable commodity. A day-long seminar for 10 people at $50/head is easy to manage. You could split the day into two parts - theory in the morning and practical in the afternoon. You provide the scions, the rootstock, the box knives, the grafting tape. Maybe even lunch - a big pot of vegetarian chilli with a green salad and fresh bread is cheap to provide if you produce the veggies and the greens and make the bread. For $50, participants take home a tree and knowledge and got a free lunch tossed in. Two days in the spring and two days in the later summer for t-budding and you earn $2000 less minimal expenses which means your financial risk is close to zero.

I've gone into a bit of detail here to give you a feel of how to leverage some of the day-to-day activities that you'll be doing. I've focused on keeping the costs down so that if there's a revenue glitch for whatever reason you aren't significantly out-of-pocket.

Personally, I would stay away from activities where are already a lot of players - candles, baskets, soaps, oils, honey (other than to consume yourself). One wonders if the supply exceeds the demand.

One of the hurdles for the beginning permie is getting the plant material for the food forest. As part of an impatient species, the beginning permie is likely to buy rather than learn how to produce his own plant material. Given the number of freshly minted & motivated permies being produced, it seems to me that you have an opportunity to supply that demand.

However, getting yourself to the point where you can leverage what you know about plant propagation is not a quick thing. I would suggest starting small say with something like comfrey and a couple of varieties of apple rootstock - say B-9 which is a semi-dwarf and Antonovka which is a standard. Set up a small trench layering or stooling bed and learn how they grow and how to clone them. It's a simple process but it's not as straightforward as it seems. This past winter after 4 years of growing rootstock for my own use, I learned first-hand about exactly what massive meadow vole damage is like. Nature make sure that you never get bored by routine. LOL.

You've got the land so you can do this right now. It doesn't require the continuous attention and involvement that animals do. Nor is it anywhere as complex. And killing or injuring a tree because you're learning as you go is much less upsetting.
 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
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Mike Haych, that is brillant! Thanks for the idea and info. I'll check out the link. Also, I'm on the list to do the Master Gardener program next year. I know they aren't organic minded but I can learn grafting and propagating and such which will help me with the very things you mention.
 
Mike Haych
Posts: 263
Location: Eastern Canada, Zone 5a
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The Master Gardener programme's not a bad place to start. It's pretty comprehensive. You'll just have to look as some things a bit differently, eg. weeds.

The course notwithstanding, doing can be the best way of learning as long as it's fairly simple and straightforward so that you don't end up frustrated and confused because something has failed and you don't know why. That's why I suggested comfrey and the apple rootstock (the two varieties that I suggested are very cold hardy and appropriate to my area. They may not be appropriate to your area. You'll need to do a bit of research to find out.) Comfrey is a plant that brown thumb gardeners can multiply. Producing rootstock is more complicated but not all that difficult. You'll find all kinds of info on the Internet which will lead you into false starts and worse. What I do is construct stooling beds filled with pure green-waste compost (I don't use animal manure unless I know where it's coming from and that the animals are not on any kind of "medicine"). Then I trench layer the trees I want to propagate. In a 3' x 8' bed I can get 6 trees - three with the roots at one end and three with the roots at the other. I use pure compost because the nutrient content creates incredibly fast, healthy growth. It's also very friable which allows me to lift the trees entirely out of the soil for harvesting rooted branches and doing any pruning that is needed, without doing very much damage due to roots not releasing from the soil. Slides 6 and 7 of this Powerpoint presentation show the layering that I do - Propagation and Nursery Production. This is a pretty comprehensive and well presented intro to plant propagation - The Step-by-Step Guide to Plant Propagation - Seeds, Roots, Bulbs and Corms, Layering, Stem Cuttings, Leaf Cuttings, Budding and Grafting. As you move into the process, you'll find more doors opening. For example, it's likely that you'll get a surplus from some of your fruits and nuts. If you've got a Saturday market close to you (gasoline for the car reduces your net so try to stay close to home), you'll find a demand. Let's say that you have a bountiful plenty of plums and you take some to market. Let's say that most but not all sell. You bring them home and make plum jam (canning and preserving are essential skills to have if you are growing food). In half the jars, you put a tablespoon of brandy and half the jars you leave plain. Presto, you have two products. Then you take them back to market the next week but with a higher price. At some point they will sell. You can do the same thing by sourcing fruit at local pick-you-own operations. A Friday morning's two hours of picking turns a nice profit because the labour has no dollar cost. Talking to your customers may lead you to a sale of a plum tree that you have produced from your nursery. That customer may be a member of a horticultural society (joining the local hort society is a good idea) and asks if you could make a presentation on growing, harvesting, and preserving plums. They'll pay you a fee plus gas. The work is all in preparing the material for the first presentation. Because a local hort society is part of a larger association, the word will get around to other hort societies in the area because they all need a steady stream of interesting presenters. You will find that they seek you out. They will ask if you have other presentations that you can give. As you go along you will find that you do. If you are adding native wildflowers to your orchard, you have the basis for a presentation on Growing Native Wildflowers. The leveraging your day-to-day activities never stops.

Keep really good records so that you know what your costs are. It's about the net not the gross.

There are many related but unique streams that flow from a food forest. Unfortunately, with the emphasis on food, they are often overlooked or maybe even not recognized.
 
Tina Paxton
Posts: 283
Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
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Mike Haych wrote:The Master Gardener programme's not a bad place to start. It's pretty comprehensive. You'll just have to look as some things a bit differently, eg. weeds.



Definitely will have to be selective about what I learn and what I ignore.

Mike Haych wrote:The course notwithstanding, doing can be the best way of learning as long as it's fairly simple and straightforward so that you don't end up frustrated and confused because something has failed and you don't know why. That's why I suggested comfrey and the apple rootstock (the two varieties that I suggested are very cold hardy and appropriate to my area. They may not be appropriate to your area. You'll need to do a bit of research to find out.)



I am pleased with myself as this summer I propagated gardenia bushes from prunings from two existing bushes on our property. I got about a 1/3 success rate. ...comfrey is on my list to add to my homestead and I will definitely keep in mind to sell rootings as I work to increase my comfrey plants. As for apple trees...they grow here but I don't think we get tasty apples here. Peaches, OTOH, do well here. I have 3 Santa Rosa plums that I planted 2 years ago and have not yet gotten fruit. I have 4 mature pecans and a number of "squirrel planted" pecan saplings.

Mike Haych wrote:... For example, it's likely that you'll get a surplus from some of your fruits and nuts. If you've got a Saturday market close to you (gasoline for the car reduces your net so try to stay close to home), you'll find a demand. Let's say that you have a bountiful plenty of plums and you take some to market. Let's say that most but not all sell. You bring them home and make plum jam (canning and preserving are essential skills to have if you are growing food). In half the jars, you put a tablespoon of brandy and half the jars you leave plain. Presto, you have two products. Then you take them back to market the next week but with a higher price. At some point they will sell. You can do the same thing by sourcing fruit at local pick-you-own operations. A Friday morning's two hours of picking turns a nice profit because the labour has no dollar cost. Talking to your customers may lead you to a sale of a plum tree that you have produced from your nursery. That customer may be a member of a horticultural society (joining the local hort society is a good idea) and asks if you could make a presentation on growing, harvesting, and preserving plums. They'll pay you a fee plus gas. The work is all in preparing the material for the first presentation. Because a local hort society is part of a larger association, the word will get around to other hort societies in the area because they all need a steady stream of interesting presenters. You will find that they seek you out. They will ask if you have other presentations that you can give. As you go along you will find that you do. If you are adding native wildflowers to your orchard, you have the basis for a presentation on Growing Native Wildflowers. The leveraging your day-to-day activities never stops.



Cool. ummm...I have a number of neighbors with pear trees in their yards. A couple years ago, we were allowed to harvest from their trees. The best thing, IMO, we made from them was pear butter. I should check and make sure I don't need a Health Dept permit to sell home canned fruit butter and if I don't, I could make that for sell...

Hort society....a quick google came up empty for hort societies in either Wilmington, NC or Myrtle Beach, SC...I'll have to keep looking or figure I'll make contacts through the Master Gardener program...

Mike Haych wrote:Keep really good records so that you know what your costs are. It's about the net not the gross.

There are many related but unique streams that flow from a food forest. Unfortunately, with the emphasis on food, they are often overlooked or maybe even not recognized.



Yeah, I think it is easy to get focused on the food production but actually the permaculture doctrine of everything having multiple purposes works here...and having product to trade/barter/sell is key to making this lifestyle even possible for me on a full time basis.
 
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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my husband did the master gardener for the county we live in and while they covered non organic methods they prefer organic methods and when working the help desk always tell people organic methods. they cover both though because some people who ask for help will use non organic methods either way and if they are going to use chemicals they should at least not use way too much or too much at all (i guess really any may be too much but you know what i mean). they also briefly covered permaculture and where very pro permaculture.

i don't know how other master gardener programs work but the one here in order to remain a master gardener you have to do a certain number of volunteer hours every year and you can't put the title on a business card or car or anything for work but you can tell people that you are a master gardener and I am sure could list it with education and experience for things.

one way I want to eventually have some income is with native dye plants that are already growing on my property. you may have wild plants that grow well where you are that could be profitable. I eventually want to set up a dye plant csa or something like that although there already is one near me I would be offering different plants that grow wild here so it might still work.
 
Tina Paxton
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The only native dye plant growing as a volunteer on my homestead is goldenrod in my ditch. I do have false indigo growing in a garden bed which I believe has been used as a replacement for indigo but it is not as good as indigo. If you are growing dye plants already or have them growing wild on your property, then, you certainly should make the most of that. Can you market on Etsy? or is there another assessable outlet to dyers? If your dye plants fit into historic dye methods, you can also market to historic reenactment crafters....
 
Meryt Helmer
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when I am ready to sell dye plants it will be through the local fibershed. they have an online marketplace and a yearly symposium with a place for sellers and other local places. I could also do etsy. I have at least three native dye plants and several native dye lichens and I need to learn more about dye mushrooms but I think some may grow here as well. not sure how safe the dye mushrooms here are though or if I would sell them. the lichen falls off the trees every time it rains and if not harvested and used decomposes.
 
Tina Paxton
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Meryt Helmer wrote:when I am ready to sell dye plants it will be through the local fibershed. they have an online marketplace and a yearly symposium with a place for sellers and other local places. I could also do etsy. I have at least three native dye plants and several native dye lichens and I need to learn more about dye mushrooms but I think some may grow here as well. not sure how safe the dye mushrooms here are though or if I would sell them. the lichen falls off the trees every time it rains and if not harvested and used decomposes.



Cool. Sounds like you have a ready outlet and the good fortune to have the plants already naturalized to your property.
 
Mike Haych
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Location: Eastern Canada, Zone 5a
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Tina Paxton wrote:I am pleased with myself as this summer I propagated gardenia bushes from prunings from two existing bushes on our property. I got about a 1/3 success rate. ...comfrey is on my list to add to my homestead and I will definitely keep in mind to sell rootings as I work to increase my comfrey plants. As for apple trees...they grow here but I don't think we get tasty apples here. Peaches, OTOH, do well here. I have 3 Santa Rosa plums that I planted 2 years ago and have not yet gotten fruit. I have 4 mature pecans and a number of "squirrel planted" pecan saplings.



To propagate comfrey, let the mother plant establish for a year or two. Then dig it up getting as much root as possible. You won't get all the roots so don't worry that you're being too hard on it. Cut each root into 1-2 inch pieces. Stick them vertically in pure finished compost in some kind of a bin - a Rubbermaid tub works well. You can plant them close together - say 2" between cuttings - so can get a lot of cuttings in a bin. Give them lots of water and keep out of the sun. As the green shoots emerge, plant up into pots. Wait until you see roots out the drain holes. Transplant out.

Re: apples, peaches, pears, etc., see Producing Tree Fruit for Home Use in NC. State extensions are a starting point but probably not an ending point. See what local tree fruits are in your nearest farmers' market throughout the season. That'll tell you what grows where you live.


Cool. ummm...I have a number of neighbors with pear trees in their yards. A couple years ago, we were allowed to harvest from their trees. The best thing, IMO, we made from them was pear butter. I should check and make sure I don't need a Health Dept permit to sell home canned fruit butter and if I don't, I could make that for sell...



Hmmmm. A quick google suggests that NC may not be all that friendly to farmers' markets - http://fromhere.org/news/new-nc-legislation-n-c-g-s-%C2%A7-66-255-to-impact-farmers-markets/. A bit more poking around led to this: http://www.ncagr.gov/fooddrug/food/homebiz.htm. It seems to me that a better start point than google is to go to a farmers market local to you to see who is selling fruits and vegetables and processed fruits and vegetables. Ask them what regulations they have to pay attention to and if they are inspected and if there are any fees that they have to pay beside booth fees.

Hort society....a quick google came up empty for hort societies in either Wilmington, NC or Myrtle Beach, SC...I'll have to keep looking or figure I'll make contacts through the Master Gardener program...



In NC, it looks like they're called Garden Clubs.

Yeah, I think it is easy to get focused on the food production but actually the permaculture doctrine of everything having multiple purposes works here...and having product to trade/barter/sell is key to making this lifestyle even possible for me on a full time basis.



Absolutely, producing an income stream from your surplus is just another stacking function. But you don't have to be a permie to figure that one out. Most folks at Farmer's Markets aren't permies and they'e been doing that since forever. The main difference, I think, is that the permie vendor will be focused on producing in a regenerative way with few to no chemicals while continuously improving the soil. There may be some vendors with that orientation. If it's at the core of what they do, then they are permies and don't know it. LOL
 
pioneer
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I think to make a reasonable income you need to also think about efficiency and be prepared to make some compromises... after all if this is a retirement plan presumably you will need to factor in diminishing labour availability if you want to be able to stay on the land indefinitely.

You need to think about how you will extract the produce from the landscape. For example if the fruit trees come ripe scattered all over your land simultaneously you will expend far more energy harvesting than if a small area comes ripe at the same time. You could be talking hours of extra time each week spent collecting fruit... The permaculture orchard video has a good process for this - the rows of fruit trees are planted so that a whole row of mixed varieties comes ripe at the same time, then the next week it is the next row and so on. They have also compromised on the use of plastic landscaping mulch - polycultures are planted through them, but their trees are obviously thriving on less labour with the black plastic than with grass. Why not mulch with organic matter? Over the areas and scales they work on they can't get enough or keep up with it.

In some of the Geoff Lawton videos you will see smaller mixed polyculture gardens, but then they also have a much larger field which bears more similarities to conventional ag (they have some hand tillage, crops are planted on a larger scale - more mono, than poly culture...). There may be some compromises to be made to meet the "people care" needs of your design.

Likewise, economies of scale come into play in a business... the infrastructure and time needed to look after 20 hens is not much less than looking after 40 hens. Rather than spread yourself over multiple livestock systems you may want to pick just one or two and go a little larger.

You mention issues with regulations and inspections... one way around this is to trade value added product for goods and labour amoungst your neighbours. We have a local farmer who runs his sheep on our land in exchange for labour each year. He does fencing, tree surgery and other outdoor jobs for us and has access to better equipment than we do. We buy sheep off him when he slaughters. Less cash changes hands so we all profit from it in reduced taxes.

Again, thinking about reducing future labour - could you look at a pick-your-own model?
 
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Looking through the list of possible income streams, with the exception of writing, it seem like most of them are dependent on physical labor. While in many ways that's great and you'll probably be in much better physical shape than most 62 year olds, it also means your income will take quite a hit if you break your leg and are stuck on crutches or a wheel chair for a couple months. Are there any skills from your hated desk job that could be transferred over to an independent business? Alternatively, since you've got time, are there any skills you could be trained in at your desk job that could later be transferred over? For example, some companies offer foreign language training which with 10 years of practice/training could allow you to become an online tutor.
 
Tina Paxton
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Michael Cox wrote:I think to make a reasonable income you need to also think about efficiency and be prepared to make some compromises... after all if this is a retirement plan presumably you will need to factor in diminishing labour availability if you want to be able to stay on the land indefinitely.



Good point.

Michael Cox wrote:You need to think about how you will extract the produce from the landscape. For example if the fruit trees come ripe scattered all over your land simultaneously you will expend far more energy harvesting than if a small area comes ripe at the same time. You could be talking hours of extra time each week spent collecting fruit... The permaculture orchard video has a good process for this - the rows of fruit trees are planted so that a whole row of mixed varieties comes ripe at the same time, then the next week it is the next row and so on. They have also compromised on the use of plastic landscaping mulch - polycultures are planted through them, but their trees are obviously thriving on less labour with the black plastic than with grass. Why not mulch with organic matter? Over the areas and scales they work on they can't get enough or keep up with it.

In some of the Geoff Lawton videos you will see smaller mixed polyculture gardens, but then they also have a much larger field which bears more similarities to conventional ag (they have some hand tillage, crops are planted on a larger scale - more mono, than poly culture...). There may be some compromises to be made to meet the "people care" needs of your design.



I'm limited to .6 acres minus the area the cottage takes up. So, my challenge is to fit as much as I can into the space. Currently, the "people care" needs of the design is to make it look good from the road which is my elderly mother's only requirement (this is her property, my sister inherits it after she passes, I have lifetime rights written into the deed). I am working to get help fixing some things in the cottage and generally making it more "elderly friendly" for her now and me later.

I've finally hit the jackpot on wood chips -- talked to a worker with the electric company this past week and the result was 2 dump truck loads of wood chips. Since I'm not trying to grow a multi-acre orchard, I can use the wood chips instead of black plastic. I'm not a purist but since I've now got a resource for chips, I'm happy to use it.

Michael Cox wrote:Likewise, economies of scale come into play in a business... the infrastructure and time needed to look after 20 hens is not much less than looking after 40 hens. Rather than spread yourself over multiple livestock systems you may want to pick just one or two and go a little larger.



Makes very good sense. I find that the mixed poultry flock of chickens and ducks works well for me. Since I have discovered an allergy to chicken eggs, I'm personally switching to duck eggs and so I'm looking to add more ducks than chickens. Besides, I know several people who sell backyard chicken eggs (including a lady at work) but no one that sells duck eggs. The rabbits are currently just producing enough meat for us but I want to upscale the rabbitry to produce more meat, furs, wool, and manure. As much as I'd love to have my own goat milk, adding even two goats would add more work and more intrastructure needs than I can really manage right now.

Michael Cox wrote:You mention issues with regulations and inspections... one way around this is to trade value added product for goods and labour amoungst your neighbours. We have a local farmer who runs his sheep on our land in exchange for labour each year. He does fencing, tree surgery and other outdoor jobs for us and has access to better equipment than we do. We buy sheep off him when he slaughters. Less cash changes hands so we all profit from it in reduced taxes.



Yes, trade/barter is something I'm very interested in. The less cash I have to claim to the Feds the better.

Michael Cox wrote:, thinking about reducing future labour - could you look at a pick-your-own model?



I have considered that option but decided against it. Mainly because I am very small scale and if I let people come to U-pick then I open myself to risk of being targeted by an animal rights activist group. I've read about what has happened to meat rabbit raisers in other areas and while it is less likely here...I just don't want to risk it. Plus, as a single lady living with an elderly mother personally safety dictates being careful about who comes here and learns about who lives here. I prefer to take my products off property and to a safe, public location to sale or trade.
 
Tina Paxton
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John Wolfram wrote:Looking through the list of possible income streams, with the exception of writing, it seem like most of them are dependent on physical labor. While in many ways that's great and you'll probably be in much better physical shape than most 62 year olds, it also means your income will take quite a hit if you break your leg and are stuck on crutches or a wheel chair for a couple months. Are there any skills from your hated desk job that could be transferred over to an independent business? Alternatively, since you've got time, are there any skills you could be trained in at your desk job that could later be transferred over? For example, some companies offer foreign language training which with 10 years of practice/training could allow you to become an online tutor.



Very very good questions and good point about factoring in the "what ifs" of negative life events...

My current desk job is working on a database, keeping the data current. It isn't something I could transfer to a home business. And, no, they don't provide training or pay for us to get extra training. BUT, that said, I am starting on some self-training in health/wellness coaching with the hopes that I can find an outlet for the nutrition degree I have but can't use in this state. Time will tell if that pans out.
 
Michael Cox
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I hadn't spotted the 0.6 acres. Such small land area makes producing a living from the land substantially harder - you will need to be concentrating on value added produce rather than straight produce meat/eggs/veggies, which in turn means your income is very dependent on your labour (kitchen work, preparation, running workshops etc...) and less so on the productivity of the land itself.

Depending on your desired level of income this might still be feasible, but I think you need a really decent backup position in case ill health or circumstances prevent you.

I too have plans to retire ahead of retirement age, but by that stage my income and standard of living should not be dependent on my day to day labor. A combination of pensions, some personal shares investment, a small amount of rental property... as with permaculture I'm diversifying my future income streams.

Given you have 10 years as your time frame I would advise doing everything you can to get your financial house in order; get any and all debts paid off, invest to develop a passive income stream (depending on your comfort levels this might be property, shares etc...). Get these foundations right so that your have bread on the table then your 0.6 acres can pay for the jam.

I gather that you have some family attachment to the land but have you seriously considered looking for other land in the area?
 
Tina Paxton
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Michael Cox wrote:I hadn't spotted the 0.6 acres. Such small land area makes producing a living from the land substantially harder - you will need to be concentrating on value added produce rather than straight produce meat/eggs/veggies, which in turn means your income is very dependent on your labour (kitchen work, preparation, running workshops etc...) and less so on the productivity of the land itself.

Depending on your desired level of income this might still be feasible, but I think you need a really decent backup position in case ill health or circumstances prevent you.

I too have plans to retire ahead of retirement age, but by that stage my income and standard of living should not be dependent on my day to day labor. A combination of pensions, some personal shares investment, a small amount of rental property... as with permaculture I'm diversifying my future income streams.

Given you have 10 years as your time frame I would advise doing everything you can to get your financial house in order; get any and all debts paid off, invest to develop a passive income stream (depending on your comfort levels this might be property, shares etc...). Get these foundations right so that your have bread on the table then your 0.6 acres can pay for the jam.

I gather that you have some family attachment to the land but have you seriously considered looking for other land in the area?



It is a small property, but I've read accounts of others who have been able to earn $20-40,000 off similar size property. (My brother's Christmas gift to me was a book "The Market Gardener" by a Canadian couple who did just that on a half acre using biointensive farming methods.) It will require either picking some very high value items and/or going for value-added as you mention.

My attachment to this property is family and I see it as God's gift to me--a place to steward for my lifetime without a mortgage, just a very small property tax each year. I used to think I wanted/needed 5 acres or more. Now, I'm thankful that I only have .6 acres because it is more manageable for me as a single lady and sometimes limits push us to make better use of what we have.
 
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How much do you need to make, cash? I have found it is much easier to reduce the spending than make more, once you check your ego.

Feed yourself, minimize utilities. Pick ONE hobby tops, and it better be cheap and have potential revenue. Ideally you wouldn't need any money, but there will still be taxes...

There are lots of ways to make good money on a half acre, but most of them involve a lot of sweat equity.
 
Tina Paxton
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R Scott wrote:How much do you need to make, cash? I have found it is much easier to reduce the spending than make more, once you check your ego.

Feed yourself, minimize utilities. Pick ONE hobby tops, and it better be cheap and have potential revenue. Ideally you wouldn't need any money, but there will still be taxes...

There are lots of ways to make good money on a half acre, but most of them involve a lot of sweat equity.



Yep, reducing spending is easier than earning more money. No need to check my ego, I'm not a fancy person who needs a lot of fancy stuff. ummm...how much cash do I need...currently I'm working with about $1300 a month take home. Once I have the property producing like I want it to, I won't need much if anything from the grocery. Once I "retire" I won't need to commute or otherwise can cut out the expenses of working an office job. I shop thrift stores and try to practice "reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle".... I'd say I could function with half as much cash or less once I have the property producing well and even less once I retire. I'm really not looking to live a luxury lifestyle. Very basic. Very simple and simplistic.
 
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Consider growing mushrooms on some of those woodchips. They can be a fairly modest effort with significant return item.
 
Michael Cox
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One option to make intensive use of a small space is to focus on plant propagation. A few hundred good 'parent' plants in your landscape that you can take cuttings from, along with a well organised area for sticking cuttings. You can sell them on bare rooted after one years growth and make a profit on bulk sales (ie 100 cuttings at £1 each) or pot them on and grow them for another year and sell them at £5.00 each... You obviously need more space, potting medium and infrastructure for the latter.

You can focus on plants that propagate easily and worry about more complex sorts once you are established. For example I just pruned some redcurrants and blackcurrants. The stems got stuck straight in a pot of soil and will be left outdoors all winter to root up. When I did this last year I had near 100% strike rate from totally neglected plants.

plant propagation systems

Some potential candidates that you would likely have in a permie landscape anyway (although I don't know your climate)

  • currant bushes of all sorts
  • canes - blackberry, raspberry etc...
  • apple rootstocks - by stooling methods
  • apples - grafting onto rootstocks (value added products)
  • roses - cut flowers, dried petals for crafts, hips for syrup
  • n-fixing perennial shrubs
  • comfrey - root division and pot on
  • nut trees - usually by stooling or layering


  • Basically most plants you might buy rather than grow from seed...
     
    R Scott
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    Ok, so how much will social insecurity pay? Just for argument's sake, let's say you will need $400/mo $100/week.

    That is 100 bare root plants a week. 20 potted. 10-20 lbs of mushrooms. 20-100 lbs of fruit. Not including expenses, so double it. Figure which is easiest for you, plus mix and match for diversity and year around income. Make sure to do like Joel Salatin and even out the WORKLOAD through the year, don't add a product that needs your time when you are already busy.

    Keep in mind the market gardener was young and lived in a tent and a rabbit barn in the winter in Canada while getting started.

     
    Tina Paxton
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    Very good ideas. Thanks! Yes, I have some thornless blackberries that are doing quite well. I can see being able to propagate them for sale in the near future. Ditto for the mulberries. So, that line of effort seems very doable especially if I can get a small greenhouse.

    Mushrooms -- I've been looking at that idea. I'm very interested in that idea but need to read more about which type(s) will do well here with the substrate I have available. If I can get it going, it seems like a good, high value crop that doesn't require a large amount of space....and if they like moist humid shade...I can do that!
     
    R Scott
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    Http://www.mushroommountain.com is a supplier near to you that should have locally adapted varieties. His book is really good, too. Simple language, permie friendly methods.
     
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    I want to comment about writing as an income stream...

    I am working on trying to make some income from writing. I have a blog (it is early days, but the income stream is way below the time invested) and have earned a good writers fee for an item I wrote for a science project....but that was so much a 'one-off'.

    The good thing about writing is that you can do it when you CAN"T be doing things outside cause of the weather or even when you run out of daylight hours. I would start it off as a hobby more than a genuine push to make money and see where it goes.

    Be aware that there are a LOT of folks who push online how easy it is to make $$ from a blog etc. It is not. It is a lot of hard work and many many hours of research and development to even turn over the cost of having a website.

    All that said...it is FUN (that is why i do it!)
     
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