Homesteading After Retirement: Part 6
Adding Life Skills to Retirement Homestead Income
Reading Time: 4 minutes
A popular notion about retirement is that we leave our past lifestyle behind and adopt a new, less stressful existence. In reality, choosing to homestead may trade some stresses for others. Crops fail, the farmers market closes, a weather disaster occurs, livestock can get sick or die. If your homestead lifestyle is reliant on selling your farm products for a profit, you may want to include a plan B.
The cold reality of farming is that things often go badly. The year 2020 is a prime and current example of just how bad things can become in a heartbeat. Massive wildfires consumed much of the western part of our country. Crops were lost, livestock died, and homes were destroyed. In addition to the worldwide pandemic going on, many people were left with no income or means of creating one. Of course, this is an extreme example. Every day, farmers and homesteaders face loss.
How can you prepare your retirement so that you are not fully dependent on crops and livestock returns? It may be time to consider a cottage industry. Diversifying your household income may carry you through a tough financial crisis. But since we are talking retirement, let me focus on activities that don’t require us to head back to the nine-to-five workweek.
Create a Product
Soaps, lotions, and other skincare products can be created in your kitchen. Adding these products can bring in additional income and you can make as much as you want. Online selling platforms such as Etsy will take a cut of your profit, but you reap the benefit of increased traffic from the platform’s efforts. Other methods of selling your wares can include your own website and online shop, word of mouth, selling in local shops, or using social media to spread the word. Other products that can be made on the homestead and marketed in the same way include jams and jellies, honey, maple, and other tree syrups, and fresh-baked bread.
Create an Online Class
Let your skills help others. If you have particular expertise, consider creating an online course on the subject. Online courses are very popular and can bring in passive income for the future. There are many platforms available for creating a course. I am using Teachable.com, and Craftsy.com is another option. Classes exist for a wide variety of interests. Handcrafts, beekeeping, woodworking, automotive repair, running a business, and baking bread are just a few ideas.
Selling Alternate Products From Your Livestock
Hides are popular products when done well. If you are raising cattle, sheep, or rabbits, learning how to tan hides can add income to the homestead bank account. If you don’t want to tan the hides yourself, find a tanner in your area. A well-crafted cowhide can bring in a few hundred dollars each.
Many people don’t realize that you can sell raw fleece if you aren’t interested in processing wool. Unfortunately, the wool does not bring much in the wool pool market. If you have some particularly nice raw fleeces, market to the spinners.
Selling Surplus Livestock and Chickens
When you are raising meat chickens, ducks, or geese, consider raising more than you require. Selling the rest as butcher-ready can be lucrative, short-term income. Poultry takes much less time to bring to market weight than larger livestock. Pasture-raising poultry brings a higher dollar, but you can still supplement free-range chickens with grain if you don’t have pasture. Another possibility is raising meat rabbits.
Assist Someone With Their Online Business
VA work or virtual assistant jobs are usually flexible ways to earn income. There are many ways that a virtual assistant helps an online business owner run their business. If you have computer skills, consider this as a good way to add money to the homestead without having to commute or keep regular hours.
Some duties that a VA might do for an online business:
• Create newsletters from templates
• Post to social media accounts
• Proofread publications and documents
• Write blog posts for websites
• Write ad copy or listings for products
• Create graphics
I am sure there are at least 50 more ideas that I am not listing. The position is almost always deadline-driven but the flexible work hours are attractive.
What’s the Catch?
You might need a few things to carry out the above ideas. Various cottage industry laws govern what can be produced and sold on the homestead. Check your local or state laws for details.
When raising meat animals, keep in mind that this is a regulated industry if you are selling and not using the products for yourself. A butcher may be required and the processing times fill quickly. Make sure you get on a list early or you may be feeding the livestock a lot longer than you expected.
Tax ID numbers will be required and an account set up. Even if the product you sell is non-taxable, you may still be required to obtain a sales tax ID number.
Internet availability is a must if you are selling online or working as a virtual assistant. As with any type of business or job, do the due diligence beforehand to avoid unpleasant surprises.
I realize that none of these ideas are going to solve a serious loss of income overnight. The best plan is to diversify your income before a downturn or disaster strikes. Having a plan B, even after retirement, doesn’t mean you have to give up the freedom and relaxation you earned.
Originally published in Countryside November/December 2021 and regularly vetted for accuracy.