Homestead Costs: Reducing Expenses and Saving Money

Homestead Costs: Reducing Expenses and Saving Money

Homestead costs are increasing daily, especially as we face the highest inflation rate in over 40 years!  Everything costs more now, challenging every homesteader to be more efficient with their time, efforts and dollars.  While you might feel as though you can’t pinch another penny, let’s take a look at “Homestead Costs: Reducing Expenses and Saving Money” for some fresh ideas.

Prices of fuel and diesel are at a 40-year high, which impacts the prices of food at the grocery store for our families, as well as grain for our livestock.   

For everyone who calls themselves a homesteader, the overall price of self-sufficiency might seem counter-productive right now.  However, it’s more important than ever to be able to grow and raise our own food, especially in light of the fact that we may not be able to fall back on the grocery stores!

We simply must create or modify our systems to be more efficient for less money, especially as we face these challenging times.

 

homestead garden

How to Cut Homestead Costs

Apply for Agricultural Tax Status

You could reduce your homestead tax expenses by as much as a third when you qualify for agricultural status for your property.

Every state will govern this differently, however, in Ohio (where I live) the CAUV program is what we applied for.  It was worth the time and paperwork to save that extra tax money every year, search “how to apply for agricultural status in {your state}”.

You may even be able to deduct improvements to your property, that you might not have otherwise made when you have an agricultural status for your property.

tractor

Sell Excess Equipment

If you have equipment and/or tools that are no longer serving you but taking up space, consider selling them and use the extra cash for things you really need.

As parts become more difficult to get, with longer shipping times, it’s wise to minimize your equipment to what you truly need and use.

Schedule a ‘clean out’ day of your barns, garage and any outbuildings, get organized and sell what you don’t need.

straw in back of pick up truck

Cut Homestead Costs by Shopping Wisely at the Farm Store

Make a list and don’t buy things that you don’t really need at the farm store.  It’s easy to grab this-and-that, but be purposeful about your purchases, especially when money is tight.

Another tip to save money is to take turns picking up your homesteading friend’s farm store list for them and dropping it off at their house, they can reciprocate by picking up your list next time.  I find this is working very well for me and a couple of my local friends, we pay each other through Venmo or cash.

With gas prices over $5 a gallon right now, it only makes good sense to limit everyone’s trips out.

 

goats

Keep the Appropriate Amount of Animals

Homesteaders tend to collect more animals than we need, it just comes with the territory.   Folks also feel at liberty to drop off unwanted animals, even more so now that the cost of pet food has skyrocketed.

Personally, I have way too many chickens!

However, when funds are tight, it can be unrealistic to try to feed too many animals.  Inflation has made much of the feed I buy double in price this year.

Decide what animals can earn their keep on your homestead (and not all of them can) and re-home or sell the rest.

 

frozen chicken in the freezer

Cull for Winter

Back in the day and during The Great Depression, our grandparents culled just about every animal on the farm before winter, except for breeding stock.  

Why?  They simply couldn’t afford to feed them if they couldn’t graze on pasture.

It may sound harsh, but it’s fast becoming the new reality check that many homesteaders are having to deal with, myself included.

 

Cut Homesteading Costs in the Garden

Buying seeds and plant starts every year isn’t the way to create a sustainable food supply.  

By planting heirloom seeds, you can collect and save your seeds each year and plant them again the following year.  Seed saving was a common practice among our grandparents when seeds weren’t as readily available commercially.

Start your own seedlings indoors rather than purchase plant starts.  Not only are plant starts outrageously expensive now, but it only costs a few cents to plant your own!  You can also be assured that your plants aren’t being sprayed with chemicals by growing them yourself.

 

 

start your own homestead business

Create Homestead Income

Whether you are looking to create some “side hustle” income or replace a full-time job income, you will benefit from my ebook “Start Your Own Homesteading Business“.

You’re already homesteading, right?  You’re out there every day, doing all of the things, why not make some money with it?

 

grazing chickens

Reduce Homestead Costs for Livestock

Feed remains the highest expense for keeping livestock.  

If we’re not careful, we can cancel out any savings of raising our own meat by purchasing grain to feed them.  Most chickens will do well free-range or on pasture, consider the options for your flock.

 

Calculate the Exact Cost of Raising the Livestock

When I’m raising meat birds (chickens that are raised for meat and not eggs), I keep a detailed list of every expense during the process.  By doing this, I can calculate the exact cost per pound once the birds have been processed.

I find that taking my birds for processing adds too much expense to the “price per pound” and so I process them myself, with the help of a couple of knowledgeable friends.  Taking my meat birds for processing adds an additional $4, per bird!  If I’m not careful, I can raise chickens that cost me $20 each!

I prefer to stay around the $8-10 range for each bird and they unusually weigh about 8-9 pounds.

10 Ways to Feed Chickens Cheaply

 

Look for Feed Alternatives to Cut Homestead Costs

There are a lot of cheap ways to feed your chickens!

Grocery stores are often times willing to give their perishing produce to local farmers.  Farm stands are another great place to get “less than fresh” produce for your livestock!

Introduce yourself to the produce manager and let them know you’re a local farmer looking for produce waste for your animals, they are often times happy to help you with that!

 

livestock on pasture

Put Ruminants on Pasture

Ruminants were created to eat pasture.

NOT grass, but pasture.

Pasture is a collection of various, nutritious plants that nourish the livestock when grazed.  Plants like timothy, rye, clover, buckwheat, barley, alfalfa, etc. will help to keep your livestock nourished and in good health.  Our ruminants stay on pasture until the snow comes, so about 8 months out of the year.

Building pasture can take a little time, but it’s very much worth the investment.  When we first moved to our homestead, the ground had been “over-farmed” and it took a couple of years to rebuild it.

By seeding our pastures with a livestock seed mix in the spring and fall, available at most farm stores, we were able to create a healthy and lush pasture for our animals to graze on.  As your livestock grazes and deposits manure, your pasture will flourish even more.

 

 

Reduce Gadgets to Save on Homestead Costs

Most people don’t consider the cost of things like heat lamps, incubators and water heaters for chickens, but you’ll definitely see the effects on your next electric bill!

Look for more natural and inexpensive methods of raising livestock, like using a broody hen for your new chicks.  It’s not always possible, but it’s something to consider.

Water heaters for frozen chicken water are not only expensive to operate, but are cheaply made and don’t last long.  Try to put a 16 oz. bottle of salt water in your chicken waterers to keep them from freezing.

Continually ask yourself “What did grandma and grandpa do?”.

 

Consider Increasing Your Prices

Too often, homesteaders short-change themselves by not charging enough for their goods and services.  Yet, as your costs increase, so must your prices!

 

Cut Homestead Costs by Bartering

During The Great Depression, when money was in short supply, people often bartered for goods and services.  

Take the time to cultivate relationships with people who would be open to bartering.   Bartering, or swapping, among friends can be a lot of fun and keep the cash in your pocket!

I bartered 10 laying hens for some of my homemade soap and it was a great deal!

Don’t be afraid to offer something in the future, for example, bartering meat that won’t be available until the winter for something you need now is completely appropriate.  Just make sure you follow up and deliver what you promised.

 

What are some of the ways you’re saving money on the homestead?  Share them with us in the comments so we can all learn!

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