Multiple Streams of Income

I’m taking a class in Holistic Farm Management. It’s all very cool, very mind-blowing, very complex, and is making me think about farming in very different ways. The course I’m taking is being taught to women, and while a bunch of men I know find that offensive, I’m grateful for it. I also liked an all girl high school, so there you go. I learn differently than most men do, and I learn more when men aren’t around.

ANYWAY … one of the exercises we are going through right now is identifying all of the “enterprises” that we have on the farm, all the different things that we are doing to try to make money. Years ago, I read something in a business course about multiple streams of income, and that made sense then, and we brought it with us when we started farming. We’ve always tried to do lots of different things to bring in money, to stay busy doing different things at different times all throughout the year.

The difference with this class, though, is that we need to put figures with each of those enterprises to see which ones are worth doing!

Here are the ones I’ve identified so far, and for which we need to put numbers to for my homework assignment.

Sheep — meat, fiber, milk
Ducks — eggs, meat
Geese — eggs, meat
Turkeys — meat
Chickens — eggs, meat, day-old chicks
Pigs — meat, breeding stock, weaners
Bees — honey
Mushrooms — dried, mushroom walks
Maple syrup sales
Prints — cards, prints, t-shirts, calendars
Canned goods — jams, salsa, dilly beans, pickles, enchilada sauce
Baking — breads, muffins
Gardening — veg sales, plant sales
Breeding Icelandic Sheepdogs — puppy sales
Minnie’s Magic — compost tea sales
Timber
Writing — ghost writing, ghost tweeting
Photography
Programming websites

One of the things about the course is recognizing how important the interplay between them all is. We keep bees not only because we can sell the honey, but because it’s good for our own crops and it’s good for our own health. So we’d probably still keep bees even if we don’t make any money doing it.

It’s the same with Minnie’s Magic. Compost tea really is magical stuff. It’s easy to always keep a batch brewing, and selling it to customers who visit the farm and to shows that we exhibit at just makes sense.

Now to break them all down and see which ones are worth doing!

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5 Comments

  1. Posted January 26, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Lisa,
    Thanks for sharing this. I will be looking at our revenue streams to see which are paying off and which are not. We don’t have quite as many as you but we do have multiple ones. As you said many things we do are beneficial to us while not bringing in money.
    I hope you will other insights from your class.
    Duane

  2. Barb
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    I had a lousy farm year last year, had to return to my pre-farm work of being an RN. I really want to be a full time farmer, but only have 5 acres to work with, I’d love to take the course you referenced in the article, do you care to share with me?? 🙂 I love your facebook page, seriously inspirational to me.

  3. Karen
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Don’t forget the beeswax – it may not be much, but it’s still income.

  4. Posted January 27, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Saw your post on the Beginning Farmers’ list. I noticed you said you have Chanteclers. I have some also – partridge chanteclers. What kind do you have? I might be interested in a rooster, if you had one for sale. (I do have one, but would be interested in new bloodlines if yours are partridge and look like mine.) I met a lady from MA who had chickens that were supposed to be Chanteclers but were way more red than my partridge birds.

    I’m in Sandown, over by Derry.

    • Frank
      Posted January 28, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Ours are also partridge. They are from Ideal Hatchery. We’re told they’re not particularly true to type, and they are disappointingly small. We’d love to swap for or buy a larger rooster.

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