Since Jr. Jack has been born, we’re really trying to amp up our self-sufficiency. Not to mention the government shut down scare, where produce wasn’t being inspected by the the FDA. So ya, shit got real.
Being self-sustaining is huge for us, but we also want to teach Jr. Jack and any future littles that it’s important to learn hard work and how to make money (AKA run a business of their own).
By 10 years old, we expect our children to have one or more businesses. Now I know that sounds like a lofty goal and I might get a few eye rollers but I’m not talking full fledged IRS business. More — selling eggs, produce, or compost.
We don’t want to have to say ‘no’ when our child asks us for $20 for the movies with friends or a couple snacks at the community pool. Granted, we’ll buy our kids plenty of things. Things they want and things they need. But we also believe it’s important to teach them the value of a dollar and the hard work that goes behind it.
Chores will be required on the homestead. So ‘making money’ from these isn’t an option. It’s part of their duty in the family.
In creating and improving our homestead, we know it also needs to work for our kids. Because most of their ‘businesses’ will be homestead oriented (if not, that’s great too). But it will probably be easiest to use the homestead to make money.
Before we get into how our kids can make money, I also want to discuss the expenses. Because there are two sides to a business — making money and spending money. And we want our children to know both sides. You don’t just get to make all the money while spending mommy and daddy’s money. Example expenses: housing, feed, and bedding (all very common for any farm raised animals).
So, while we will front the cost for housing, bedding, feed, other materials, etc. — the children are responsible for paying part of that back each month with their profits. This way, they learn how to run a business, how to pay back a loan, how to be more resourceful to lessen their monthly expenses, and how to make the most money possible from their operation(s).
**We do need to talk about the ‘bone yard’ because almost every homesteader has one. It’s that pile or piles of shit that’s in the backyard, or the barn, basement, or garage waiting for it’s second or seventh life. Think barn wood, wood scraps, metal wiring, old appliances, furniture, pallets, buckets, PVC, metal sheets, etc. The ‘bone yard’ is super important to keeping costs as low as possible for homestead projects with and without kids.
If you live in or near the city, just make sure you hide it real well so neighbors can’t complain.
But let’s get to the fun part — HOW TO MAKE MONEY for littles and bigs!
I’ve compiled a list of homestead driven businesses. By no means is this a total compilation and many ideas may not work for your family, child, or homestead. But it’s definitely a place to start.
We’re going to start off with the most popular homestead activity. But this one should be taken with a word of caution. Often times, between housing, feed, bedding, etc. it can actually cost more to create those eggs than you can sell them for.
This, however, is a great option for homesteads that can free range their chickens most of the year. And great for the wee little ones. Cuteness sells, I tell ya!
Recurring costs: housing (but may be able to use your bone yard to create one for free), bedding, and feed, (possibly electricity if you want more production from your hens).
Sell compost/ fertilizer
Some gardeners will pay top dollar for quality compost and fertilizer. If you already have rabbits, chickens, or ducks, collect their poop in old feed bags with the bedding and sell them for $15+ a bag.
If your child is really into composting kitchen scraps, they can sell finished compost or vermicompost (worm poop) for $30+ a bag. Seriously!
The only downfall to this is that, with the exception of rabbit manure, it takes time to season most garden scraps, manure, and bedding. But opt for selling ‘hot manure’ in the fall for gardeners to prep their beds for next year. No time needed to season the compost.
Recurring costs: virtually no upfront costs if you have old feed bags lying around.
Build a small cabin
So this is one The Beard and I are particularly fond of because we love AirBnB. The initial cost will probably be one of the largest for a child’s business but definitely worth it!
Children will need the help of older siblings and/or parents to help construct the cabin. Keep it small to maximize profit and minimize upfront costs.
The child is then responsible for responding to AirBnB inquiries for booking(with parental supervision), chopping firewood (for wood stove), cleaning, and changing bed sheets.
Teach your child to be resourceful by going to the ‘bone yard,’ collecting free building materials, and thinking outside of the box to keep building costs down.
Recurring costs: paying back the loan for building materials and laundry expenses (whether this is easier to do at home or at the laundromat).
Sell baked good
Look into your state’s Cottage Food Law for more details and restrictions. But most places allow you to sell out of your house and at local farmer’s markets.
Teach your child to make bread, cupcakes, pastries, pies, muffins, rolls, etc.
Everyone loves home baked goods, especially fresh bread. And the best part is that these are consumable — meaning that people will run out and have to keep buying from you each week. It’s not a one and done product like a shovel (unless said person breaks the shovel). But you understand what I’m saying.
Recurring costs: flour, butter, sugar, yeast, fruit, etc. (additional ingredients to make baked goods), storage containers, and possibly labeling and certification licenses.
Everyone loves chickens. Or at least we think they do. Recently, our town just passed a backyard chicken law so everyone is on the hunt for chickens.
Raise them from chicks and sell them at a hefty profit. Ours go anywhere from $15-30 a bird, depending on the breed.
To really increase profits, raise ‘fancier’ breeds like Silkies or Frizzles. These go for top dollar.
Just remember, you might end up with some Roos. So have a plan for those if you can’t handle them all or aren’t allowed to have them.
It’s easy to make a brooder with household items from the ‘bone yard.’ You will need to purchase heat lamps if you don’t already have those.
Recurring costs: start up costs from brooder and heat lamp, baby chicks, feed, electricity, and bedding.
Sell pet rabbits
I have to say, unless you are raising meat rabbits for your own family — there really isn’t much to be made when it comes to selling meat rabbits. Even skinning, tanning, and re-purposing the hide takes way more time than profits would cover.
But selling pet rabbits is where the money is at. And you don’t have to kill an animal in the process. Shout out to all the vegans out there!
We sell Lionhead and Holland Lop rabbits that can go anywhere from $40-60 around us. Select a high end breed to sell as pets or even fiber rabbits. Where owners can collect their wool fur, spin it, and sell it or make something out of it and sell it. Angora rabbits are perfect for this.
Recurring costs: housing, feed, and bedding.
We plan to buy a breeding pair for our children when they are around 8 years old. They are responsible for taking care of the animals, feeding, watering, cleaning their housing, and take part in building their coops.
From there, our children can sell all the babies. Depending on the type of animal, you may need to wait until the child is a bit older to be able to handle the animal. And some animals don’t do well with just one male and one female (for instance hens and roosters). You need far more hens than roosters.
Best animals to do this with are ducks and rabbits. Ducklings are ready much faster and have little recurring costs. Rabbits do take more time to wean, but can yield more money for your efforts.
Recurring costs: housing, bedding, feed, possible heat lamps and transportation cages.
Roadside produce stands are awfully popular and for good reason. Provided your property is adjacent to a busy street/highway, it can produce quite the profit.
Hopefully, you can still use the honor system and not have to man it. In which case, this isn’t a kid friendly business.
But assuming the honor system is still intact, your child will be responsible for seeding, transplanting, watering, weeding, and harvesting the produce to sell on your roadside stand.
I’d advise collecting the money in a lock box with a small opening for people to put the money in. Collect it every day or every other day.
Initial costs would be creating the stand, seeds, and lock box.
Get creative with your ‘bone yard’ and build the stand from scraps and a large sign easy enough to see from far away.
Recurring costs: water, and seeds.
Is your child an artist? Create produce growing signs from old spoons, scrap pallets/wood, etc.
Or help your child build raised beds and sell those as kits for urban growers.
Build birdhouses, bat houses, or animal pens. Sell these as kits as well.
Recurring costs: since crafts can range in such wide variety, sit down with your child and assess start up costs, the market value of your product in your area, and any recurring costs before jumping in realizing the market isn’t there or your business is actually losing money for what you can charge.
There are so many kid friendly ways to make money from a homestead. Some are straight forward and some require a little more ingenuity. But sometimes, those are the best, most profitable ideas!
The Beard and I think it’s important for our children to know how it feels to work for yourself, how to run a business, how to invest for the long term, and the hard work required to earn a dollar.