If you’re looking to make your homestead more self-sufficient, you may have wondered if it’s even possible to quit your day job and devote yourself to the business you love: the business of working your land.
Luckily, a homesteading lifestyle works well for those seeking work-from-home opportunities. You can earn a living from a homestead – you just have to be creative and willing to put in a little bit (okay, a lot) of hard work and grit.
When it comes to making money from your homestead, be prepared to roll up your sleeves and think outside the box – but know that it absolutely can be done. Here are some ways to earn an extra $500 (and ideally more) from your homestead each month.
1. Raise chickens
Many people overlook the exponential potential of raising chickens. If you are willing to invest a small amount of money (less than $100) in an inexpensive home incubator, you can raise a consistent batch of chickens year after year, without having to reinvest with baby chicks (which can cost up to $4 a chick, in some cases). An incubator will allow you to raise as many eggs as you’d like, meaning you will always have a fresh batch of chickens to do with as you please.
One of the most obvious ways of raising money with chickens is to sell eggs. Most free range, organic, or pasture-raised eggs sell for at least $3.50 a dozen – with many homesteaders selling them for significantly more money depending on where they live and what their market looks like.
If you have a rooster, you can also sell fertilized eggs. Many people are interested in raising their own baby chicks, and may already have an incubator, but aren’t able to keep a rooster for a number of reasons. Schools will also often buy fertilized eggs for classroom chick projects.
You can also sell chickens themselves, and there are a few viable options here. If you have old hens that are no longer laying, you can sell them as stewing hens, or butcher them yourself to sell as chicken stock.
You can also sell broilers (meat birds), either as live animals or as butchered meat. You can raise chickens to laying age and sell them as layers (for which you can sometimes earn well over $20 apiece), or sell young chickens or chicks immediately after they have hatched.
The bottom line here is that chickens are easy and inexpensive to raise, costing mere cents a day in feed, water, and housing expenses. If you’re creative, you can make your chickens an integral part of your homesteading financing plan.
2. Raise meat animals
Chickens aren’t the only animals you can sell for meat. You can raise and sell other animals, like rabbits, pigs, cows, goats, or sheep – just keep in mind that you will want to crunch the numbers as some animals (like cows) offer a much slower return on investment. That being said, some animals (like sheep) offer multiple purposes and will continue to earn their keep even when you aren’t selling the meat.
You don’t necessarily have to butcher the animals yourself in order to make money, and in some cases, this may even be ill-advised. Most state regulations frown upon selling meat in bulk if you are not processing them in a USDA-inspected facility. Therefore, it is often easier to simply raise animals to maturity and then sell them, either to a dealer or to another interested buyer.
You can also sell animals to be sold as pets. Especially around Easter and other holidays, it is not uncommon for families to search for animals like baby goats, sheep, and rabbits to give to their children as pets. Keep in mind that you will likely be selling juvenile animals if you are selling them for this purpose, and you will want to invest in services to keep them clean and immunized if that’s the case.
3. Fiber animals
You can sell fiber from animals like alpaca, angora goats, and sheep. Even if you aren’t committed to shearing and spinning the fiber yourself, you can always hire someone who can shear your animals in a fraction of the time that you would be able to, and at a remarkably low cost. Raw fiber can be sold via an online marketplace, like Etsy, or through the open market.
And don’t overlook the idea of selling tanned leather, either, if you have the skills to do so.
4. Sell plants and seeds
There are a number of ways to go about selling plants and seeds. You can simply plant extra produce in your garden and sell excess at the local farmer’s market or directly from your home. Roadside stands are gaining in popularity, and if you live in a well-trafficked area, this could be a good way for you to earn some side income without having to pay the fees to set up at a farmer’s market or other public venue.
You can also start extra seeds in the spring and sell the garden transplants in late spring to gardeners who choose not to start their own. You can often make up to $10 for a six pack of transplants, particularly if they are of high-quality or rare plant species. You can even collect heirloom seeds from your plants at the end of the season, package them up nicely, and resell them in the spring to other local gardeners.
5. Build an herb garden
An herb garden is a must-have addition on any homestead, offering medicinal and culinary purposes. However, it also offers you the potential to earn some serious money. You can dry and sell herbs (earning up to $5 an ounce, in some special cases) or sell them fresh. You can even dehydrate your herbs and package them up to be used in teas or salves, too.
6. Keep bees
If you’re an environmentalist at heart, you likely already know the importance of honeybees for a successful agricultural endeavor. Beekeeping is an enjoyable pastime that not only gives back to the environment, but also helps you make some money.
Beeswax and honey are highly valued commodities, with the average price of raw honey hovering around $25 per gallon – not too shabby, considering a single hive has the potential to produce much more than that in the matter of a year. If you’re willing to experiment with the beeswax, you can also sell products like candles and cosmetics.
Another option to consider is that of selling started bee colonies, or “nucs.” Nucs, or nucleus colonies, can easily fetch prices well over $200 apiece. If you are a skilled beekeeper and it is time to split your hives, consider selling queens or full colonies to help a novice beekeeper get started. And don’t forget that you can make some money from offering beekeeping classes, too!
7. Forage for mushrooms – or grow your own
Mushrooms are a chef’s dream, and if your property is home to a wooded area, you likely already have some of these mushrooms growing right on your own land. Be careful when you are foraging, as some mushrooms are toxic and have nearly identical (but safe) counterparts. An easier way to ensure you don’t poison yourself or your customers is to grow your own mushroom logs. This can be an incredibly marketable business- particularly if you are able to find a niche in a local restaurant.
8. Rent out your land
If you have a sizeable chunk of property and find that most of it is going to waste, consider renting it out. If you have space, you can rent it out to those who want to live on it, or you can rent it out for pasture or planting. It is not uncommon for other farmers, particularly those in more congested areas, to seek out additional sources of hay. If you have plenty of open hay fields, you could be paid for the hay that the land will produce – without you ever having to lift a finger.
9. Start vermicomposting
Vermicomposting sounds complicated, but it’s simply the act of raising worms for the purpose of composting your food. If you start vermicomposting (which requires the purchase of only a plastic tote, some shredding paper, and a handful of Red Wiggler worms), you can raise enough worms to sell to fishermen or you can even sell the compost itself. T
he compost produced in a vermicomposting bin is just as nutrient-dense and biologically valuable as the compost produced in a larger, more traditional compost. This method of composting will allow you to recycle your food waste and make money all at the same time.
10. Raise fish
Many homesteaders are turning to aquaculture as a way to make some extra money on the homestead. This can require some additional cash to start up, as you will need a large tank or a pond to be successful, but if you have the space needed, you can easily make a good chunk of change by raising food-species fish like catfish or tilapia.
11. Start a CSA
If you constantly find yourself planting more than you need in your garden, or are interested in expanding the size of your garden, you might consider opening up a CSA or community garden.
A CSA allows you to sell your excess produce to local community members in shares, with the full understanding that the produce they receive will be what’s in season. Many CSAs also include foods like milk, meat, and cheese as part of their CSA shares, too, allowing customers to enjoy every aspect of the homestead experience.
12. Offer classes
If you have significant expertise in a particular topic, offering how-to classes might be a good way for you to make some extra cash. You could offer classes in things like soap or cheese making, butchering, animal husbandry, canning, shearing, and more. This is a great way for you to harness your skills and use them as a way to make more money – no overhead expenses required.
13. Make the labor pay for itself
Do you have fields that are bursting with produce at the end of the harvest season, just waiting to be picked? Don’t break your back harvesting it yourself, and definitely don’t pay for farm hands to pick it for you. Instead, use the growing popularity of agrotourism as a way to make – and save! – your homestead some money.
You’ll want to make sure your farm or homeowners insurance covers this kind of experience, but if it does, opening up a “u-pick” farm can help make you some serious money. You charge people for the experience of picking the produce, as well as the produce itself, and don’t have to worry about a single thing regarding picking and packing the food. This type of money-making opportunity works well with seasonal produce like strawberries, blueberries, pumpkins, and apples.
14. Sell milk and cheese
If you have dairy cows or goats, you can even sell their milk and cheese. This is a great way to make one animal work overtime for you – if you are raising a goat to produce kids for you to sell, why not also sell the excess milk?
Or process it into cheese or yogurt? You can earn a great deal of money from home-produced dairy products, just make sure you check your local regulations before taking the plunge.
15. Sell baked goods and canned food
If you are a talented baker, you might consider selling your homemade products. People will pay a pretty penny for a loaf of fresh, homemade bread, or for the perfect jar of pickles. While this may not be a wholly reliable source of income, it’s a great way to supplement some of the other money you have coming in.
If you have the space to do so, you might even consider opening up a farm store or bakery within your own home, or offering catering services for special occasions like weddings and birthdays.
Another food product you can sell? Maple syrup. In many areas of the country, maple syrup can make just as much money as raw honey, offering a nice alternative to cane sugar or other sweeteners. If you have property with a large volume of sugar maple trees, consider tapping them to sell the unprocessed sap, or the boiled down syrup.
You may need some specialized equipment to do this on a large scale, and there is significant finesse needed to create maple syrup. However, if you have the know-how, the right kind of trees, and the willingness to experiment, this could be a serious money-making endeavor.
16. Offer up stud services
Not yours, of course – but those of your animals. If you raise male animals, like goats, sheep, pigs, or cows, you may want to consider offering them up for breeding services.
Many people who raise animals don’t want to deal with the hassle of keeping a buck, boar, or other male counterpart on hand to breed their females. If you are already planning on raising males, consider marketing their services to make some extra cash. You will likely only need a livestock trailer and possibly some chutes to transport the animals.
17. Rent out rooms
If you have a large home or are willing to expand the home you already have, consider renting out rooms. You can do this in a number of ways. Many homesteaders operate small bed and breakfasts that provide visitors with a quaint, homegrown experience. You could earn up to $200 or $300 per night, per room, depending on your location and the season.
Many homesteaders are also making money by offering “agrotourism” experiences. The concept is simple – you supply your visitors with a bed and breakfast- esque experience, but in addition to the basic services of the stay, you also give them an opportunity to interact with your farm.
For example, the day starts with milking the cows and tending to the chickens, and may even allow your visitors to gather crops or work in the fields. This is a great way to earn some extra cash, as well as to enjoy some free labor. Again, just check your insurance policy to make sure you can handle the extra liability that this presents.
18. Work with the seasons
More and more people are turning to seasonal activities like corn mazes, hay rides, and apple picking as a way to fill their days. While the time of year may be a more limiting factor in, say, January, fall and spring are the perfect time to work with what you have. Offering seasonal favorites like those mentioned above is a great way to bring some extra income to your farm.
19. Sell cosmetics
There are dozens of ways to produce your own cosmetics and personal care items that can then be sold for cash. While these will likely only sell for a few dollars a pop, if you are willing to sell in an online marketplace and to produce a large volume of goods, you could easily supplement the income you are already making on your homestead.
20. Make, sell, or repair clothing
If you own fiber animals, making clothing is a great way to earn some extra cash. You can spin yarn from your fiber animals, allowing you to sell yarn to knit, crochet, or felt your fiber into a final product. You can then sell this clothing to make a profit.
If you aren’t interested in raising fiber animals, or if you are particularly talented with a needle and thread, you might also consider advertising your services as a tailor.
21. Look for grants
While grants can’t necessarily be considered income, they are an excellent way to subsidize the money-guzzling passion of running a homestead! Let’s face it – it can be expensive to keep a piece of property going, particularly if you have multiple acres or many mouths to feed.
State, federal, and local governments often offer grants to homesteaders for certain projects or situations, meaning you could earn some extra money simply by taking the time to write a proposal. Many not-for-profit groups also offer funds to homesteaders who are willing to put the time into a proposal.
22. Split and sell firewood
If you have lots of land, you will need to selectively clear it at multiple points to ensure the timber is developing in a healthy, productive fashion. When you do this, remember that people need firewood. If you are planning on clearing land anyway, consider splitting the firewood and selling it either to local customers or via a roadside stand or online marketplace.
23. Sell your animal poop
In the springtime, it is not uncommon to see dozens of advertisements for people seeking fresh animal manure, particularly from animals like horses or rabbits. If you raise livestock, consider selling the manure for people to use as fertilizer. In many cases, as long as you scrape the manure out of your barns and into an easily-accessible pile, you won’t even have to transport it, as the customers will come to you.
24. Sell flowers and floral arrangements
If you’re already raising bees, you likely already know the importance of planting and cultivating a number of flowers upon which they can feed. If you have multiple flower beds, you might consider cutting the blooms and selling them at your roadside produce stand or farmer’s market.
If you’re particularly talented with a pair of clippers, and some twine, you might also consider marketing your floral arranging skills. Florists are in high demand in the spring and summer months, where events like weddings and graduation ceremonies tend to be at an all-time high. You could make hundreds of dollars by offering your services at these events.
25. Start writing!
Don’t forget that your talent is one of the most marketable items you can sell. Writing is a great way to share your experiences, help other homesteaders, and to educate others about the ins-and-outs of running a homestead (or whatever your passion might be).
If writing isn’t your thing, keep in mind that there are other ways to raise money from home while working with your God-given talents. You can paint, sculpt, make pottery, sell photography, or even build and sell furniture. You could start a blog, teach an online class, or even consult beginning homesteaders.
The opportunities are endless. While every homestead will be different in how it chooses to make a profit, you should take comfort in knowing that, with a little bit of hard work, willpower, and creativity, running a homestead can be a profitable and enjoyable experience.
Rebekah is a part-time homesteader. On her 22 acres, she raises chickens and bees, not to mention she grows a wide variety of veggies.