TIV, THE MASTER OF FARM TECH THAT TURNS INTO MONEY, TALKS TO YOUNG CITY FOLKS WHO WANT TO FARM
"My advice young people on coming to the country, running a farm on a budget and even making money? On frugal living? I am treading lightly, since I am presently trying to winterize the farm, walls, windows, chinks. Octogenarian limitations dictate priorities that don't allow for much pontificating at present. But---I have been thinking about a Theory Of Everything in making a home work for the occupants instead of occupants working for the home. The only universally applicable function toward this end is the acquisition of workshop skills and a workshop in which to develop, manufacture, and sell cottage-industry products.
Depending on skill-level and scope, the chosen product(s) can be elaborate, or as simple as the kitchen table. I tend toward simplicity, both to reduce cost of entry and limit loss from the attempts that don't succeed well enough to merit their expansion. Nothing wrong with trial-and-error, but t is essential to quickly recognize and abandon products that don't sell, and substitute products that sell and have sufficient potential for growth to keep them in a product line.
This also means the average experimenter in developing a (farm or) workshop income should follow, not run ahead of the money-trail. And, to limit initial risk, the workshop experiments should be done nights and weekends, while keeping the rent paid with employment income. Fifty is the magic number. Best if a business is started when the owner is under fifty and still employable at a reasonable rate of pay. Over fifty, you've got to scramble like hell to develop and make products that you own and control. The market is a lot kinder to fifty year-old business owners than to over-fifty employees.
So I'll try to crank out an expanded home-income article, focused on alternate workshop skills, tools and products soon. If I drag my feet, bang on the door to get my attention. Octogenarians often need drastic wake-up calls to wobble to their mental feet in the morning.
Of course, I want my daughters to get the hell out off the employment treadmill, so am assembling information and tools to start two or three business start-ups this winter that take some trial-and-error design skill, and limited initial tools.
a.) Rockfinding the local jade or quartz could turn into Jewelry making. Get a grinder, drill, tumbler. Learn to pan gold. Learn to recognize semi precious stones.
b.) Growing berries, peaches,nectarines, figs, pears, grapes, kiwis, lemons, could turn into jam making. 8$ a jar currently at Farmers’ markets. PIES are 40$ each in LA farmers' markets.
c.) A few goats or cows could turn into cheese making. Tip: add garlic and herbs, get a unique, flavored cheese. Only one garlic cheese in the marketplace, Sonoma Jack, it sold out all the time. Then they stopped, maybe thinking garlic growing underground would taint the product. WELL PASTEURIZE it first, the garlic! I wonder why other cheesemakers don’t try this!
d.) Cleaning out senior attics at reduced rates turns into Scouting down country antiques that you put on Ebay.
e.) Grow grains, find a local mill or get a VITA-MIX, make bread. My fave as it’s only healthy one, is pre-soaking grains, overnight, rinsing, then using VITA-MIX to make BIBLE bread. Not just wheat, but rye, barley, spelt, oats, and lots of sesame through out the loaf.
The really difficult, expensive and time-consuming effort to build a direct-sales or dealer-system is now relatively easy with the advent of Internet sales, coupled with market-testing in local or nearbyflea-markets, craft-shows and potential brick-and-mortar retail shops. The biggest bugaboo of all---how to expand a small business on internally-generated capital, is now gone with the advent of credit-card (AND Paypal) payment. You still have to pay attention to minimizing risk of fraudulent orders where you lose both your merchandise and charge-back by the credit-card banks, but that is a solve-able problem.
Forgot---an illustration of how quickly times change when a high-cost item becomes a commodity sold at commodity prices. Delete the above reference to making a good living repairing computers---you now can't, any more than in the once-profitable TV repair business I dabbled in as a sideline. Now it's cheaper to buy a new TV or computer than to repair one.
You can make good money in home-manufacture of specialty electronic items---but not in those which have become commodities. Just a note, from the master of all, TIV!
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