how to make a small living with 3.5 acres?(is it even possable)

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by ninny, Nov 25, 2008.

  1. ninny

    ninny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2007
    IL side of the QCA
    We have three and half acres. One big barn and a pasture that is a huge hill:(. I would really like to be able to make my share of the income from our farm. But the pasture kinda kills lots of livestock choices. I am plaining on selling eggs and would like to sell and broker fiber and yarn as well. Im thinking french angora rabbits as one critter but would like something else too. I have a area for a dry lot and i can rotate pastures as i have huge front yard i can fence in. How many animals can say 3 acres hold? I've thought of 3 or 4 gelding alpacas, 4-8 mini sheep, 3-4 pygora goats and two nubians. But i think that is way to much even with rotating the pastures. But my in laws and my parents have land. That i may be able to use for a small part of the year. So during the summer i may have only some of the critters here. But during the fall and winter they will all be here. I really would like a couple of each but i need to make money off the fiber and not just stick into their bellies. What are my options? I could have just 2 or so of each and broker the rest of the fiber id need then spin it. If i do that then should i get white critters only and dye the fiber, then buy the colored?

    The bunnies will be first as the barn needs a lot of work and we need fences still. They can live in the garage. I mostly want the other animals for pets and fiber to blend with the buns.

    Should i get all fixed boys or girls that i can breed?

    Thank you!!!
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2008
  2. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

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    Have you considered Aplacas?
     
  3. ninny

    ninny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2007
    IL side of the QCA
    I very much want a couple gelding alpacas!!!
     
  4. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

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    Quote:I've heard good and bad things about them. Here in CT, where farms
    are ancient history, I see people raising them.

    Best of luck with your minifarm. [​IMG]
     
  5. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    One thing to keep in mind is unless you can raise the feed for the alpacas there's going to be a good portion of the year you'll have to buy feed for them. Most areas pasturing year round isn't an option.

    Do you have an area that you could put in a vegetable garden that you could sell produce from at a farmer's market?
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Honestly? Most people with various-fun-animals hobby farms lose money on 'em -- they are generally a HOBBY, literally, not a source of net income if you do the stone-cold-honest accounting.

    If you truly want to come out ahead financially, the biggest thing would probably to reduce expenses as much as possible, and then a bit more. (This includes 'no animals kept just for fun'). Then see what NON-livestock sources of income you might be able to arrange: rent out barn for winter storage of boats or etc, grow pumpkins to sell in October, that sort of thing.

    THe difficulty with livestock is that, fun tho they can be, they cost you money day in day out no matter whether they're turning a profit or not, plus when things go wrong, they do not depreciate to zero, they quite often depreciate to NEGATIVE value i.e. they don't just go toes up, they cost you money on the way (vet bills, and/or infecting their companions). Thus they are a rather riskier thing to base a hoped-for income on. Also it is awful easy to start getting attached and keeping some around just cuz you like 'em, and profits REALLY go down the tubes.

    If you really really want to try to make money off animals, don't just pick a variety of cute or interesting things, do a lot of market research and figure out what ONE OR TWO things are likely to be profitable with not too much investment.

    I'd be real, real, real cautious with the alpaca concept. AFAIK they are still, a couple decades on, about fifty percent decorative lawn ornaments kept as pets, and fifty percent more-or-less Ponzi scheme (I am under the impression that still mainly the way to make money with alpacas is to market them to people who want to get into alpacas in order to market them to other people who.... you know). Some people do make some money off their alpaca herds but they are basically people with LOTS of capital to put into getting premium quality stock, and then LOTS of time and money to put into showing and promoting and advertising their stock. Possibly it is different elsewhere, but I'm just sayin' what I see around here and when I was living in NJ and W NY.

    Honestly, poultry, sold for meat and/or eggs, may be your best moneymaking opportunity... IF you already have the facilities mostly built and IF your state regulations are favorable and IF a sufficient local market exists.

    Not trying to be a downer, I just want to point out that there is a big difference between collecting fun animals and making an actual profit on an ongoing basis, and lots of people set out to do the latter and end up doing the former.

    (e.t.a. -- have you actually sat down and done the math on your animals-for-saleable-fiber idea. I would seriously worry whether you could be assured of getting sufficient prices for the volume of fleece, yarn etc that you will be able to produce, in comparison to the hay and vet bills... you'd for SURE want to tot it all up and see how it is likely to come out before buying any animals....)

    Good luck,

    Pat
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2008
  7. ninny

    ninny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2007
    IL side of the QCA
    Yes, I will have to buy hay for part of the year here. I have a area for a garden but i have a black thumb. Im going to try and raise enough for us, but i'm much better with animals. How many alpacas could fit on 3 acres? Id get a lama or two also.

    Would it be best to just have one type of animal or get a couple of each? Im brainstorming ideas this winter on how to do this. My goal is to be out of debt when i turn 30. So i can't be spending a of money right away.
    Im thinking of having a online business and doing the farmers markets during the year as well.

    Is is better to sell a couple different things or stick with just one?

    right now im thinking eggs(i have a nice size market for those) fiber,yarn, candles, and goat milk soap. Or is that too much? Id start one thing a year and build slowly.

    I also work retail and my DH is a manger for the power and water company.
    So i have other income right now. Once we are out of debt id like to only do the farm.
     
  8. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    With enough pasture a fiber sheep would eat without needing any feed. But you can't run enough of them on 3 acres to make enough in raw wool to support yourself.

    As with most things we love it is either a hobby or a job. A job is a lot more work and far less forgiving than a hobby. Some people do manage to find a way to make it work but it is rare unless you cut back and live only on the bare essentals but that defeats the purpose of trying to live comfortably on your own means.
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    I take it you are a spinner... have you considered testing the waters to see what the local market might be (or via the internet) for spinning peoples' dogs' hair into wool for sweaters or etc. It may sound odd, but my m-i-l who is SERIOUSLY into fiber arts stuff has had several requests from people to do that. You have to mix the doghair with a goodly whack of regular wool btw. But IF there was a market, you might be able to put a significant markup on a 'custom' job like that. And then you could still be workin' with fiber-type stuff without having to support livestock.

    Just brainstorming,

    Pat
     
  10. ninny

    ninny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2007
    IL side of the QCA
    Quote:Sorry Pat i was typing when you posted. At this moment i am mostly brainstorming. I want to have animals that will be pets but are bringing income in as well. As for the alpacas, I am not get any breeding stock at all. Imo there they are the rich mans play toy. But I can get a nice fiber alcapa for 400-1000. I can afford that. I love thier fiber! So even if i get them and in two years that stops becoming a good thing I can still use it for myself and gifts. I am doing eggs for sure, i have a waiting list already. I just have to get more birds as mine all got murder this year.(stupid owl)

    I also am looking into pyogra goats as they are small and they are a dual propose fiber and milk animal. As are french angoras being fiber and meat.

    I am also looking into craft supplies and finished projects to sale. We have a year round farmers market in my area. So i can sell there as well as online.
     

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