How I run my Small Farm on One Income (Part One)
Back in 2003 when I moved to my first smallholding it didn't take me long to figure that as a one woman farm there was no way I could fix everything myself. If I was to add livestock to my holding at some point there'd be vet bills to pay and to get my new additions to my smallholding I was going to need appropriate vehicles or hire a livestock transporter to deliver them.
The list of things that need doing and tending on a smallholding is endless - living on a smallholding is an expensive lifestyle choice.
I started with a small budget, part of the excitement of this new smallholding life I'd chosen was figuring stuff out. Not having a huge budget made the journey all the more fulfilling and I had to find creative ways to solve problems, get things fixed and increase my budget.
I hadn't walked I to this lifestyle to be financially rich. I was just like every other smallholder and craved a healthier, happier life for my children and me, a life that should be 360° abundant.
The reality is being a smallholder on a good day is expensive, there are times when things can and will go wrong - it's usually then we realise just how expensive this life is!
If you’ve read my About the farm page, then you know my personal small farm consists of 40 acres, cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs and various smaller animals, multiple outbuildings and a farmhouse.
In the beginning, being inexperienced and naïve I thought it was going be easy to get my smallholding to pay for it's self with livestock, growing fruit and veg, eggs from my hens .... but I soon realised it wasn't that simple, it took me years to get my holding to pay a small living, I even grew to commercial farmer (hated it) and shrank back again, now my small farm just wipes it’s face.
Most people assume my small farm was passed down to me from family, or that I had a rich husband.
Both couldn't be further from the truth, my parents left only debt and I never married money! (read my story here)
I really do run the farm and all my businesses single handed and I fully believe - if I can do, it anyone can... So, how do I run my smallholding on just my income?
How I run my Smallholding on One Income
- I work hard!
From day one (almost 20 years ago) I wanted my smallholding to include livestock and I wanted to earn all of my income from my holding. In the beginning I had a full time job but knew then my wage was never going to be enough to pay for all the things I wanted to do. I needed to increase my income achieve all I had set out to do. Over the years I came up with creative ways to create multiple incomes all run from my smallholding. It was hard work. I'd often find myself burning the midnight oil but all the hard work paid off.
- I only buy things I NEED
Like many new smallholders I'd brows magazines, visit other more established smallholders and small farms and see all these amazing pieces of equipment, tools, livestock housing etc.
It would have been so easy to throw my budget in to the latest kitchen gadget or garden tool.. even some of the boots and clothing that often times were more expensive than a hoard of new tools!
I never thought - "I can't afford that". The question was "Do I need that"?
So many people fall in to that trap of spending money on tools and equipment that they really don't need only for it to sit around and never get used. I've always been careful with what I purchase and if I do need something I'll always look to find it second hand or in a sale and rarely pay full price.
- I learned new skills
Where by no means can I do everything in the house or on the holding if I knew it was within my capabilities to do a task but I didn't have the necessary skills or knowledge I would set about learning so I could fulfil the job at hand.
There are plenty of things that given a little time to research you can complete yourself.
For example - the tap in my stables burst through winter, I could have called a plumber out which would have cost me at least £100 but it seemed easy enough for me to fix. I took a little time to research how to fix the tap, since then I've fixed more than a dozen taps - that's saved me a small fortune and that's just one example.
- I exchange services
It's not just other smallholders that like to exchange goods and services and you can play this to your advantage.
Many people love the smallholding way of life, you are often living someone else's dream and what many smallholders don't realise is that the most unlikely person would love to exchange their service for a piece of your lamb or box of your organic veg.
Although I'm capable of doing many, many things and what I don't know I love the challenge of figuring out. But there is one thing I just cannot do because it bores me to tears..... accounts!
Back in the day when I had to hire my first book keeper I found a lovely lady that lived in town. She absolutely loved this smallholding way of life and wanted to try my meat and eggs. So, I supplied her with my produce and she reduced my bill by more than half!
Always look for ways your products, skills and knowledge can help you off the holding as well as on.
To Be Continued…………
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