We moved to the country in 2002 to start growing our own food organically. I also wanted to get “honest” exercise — rather than exercising in a gym or on a treadmill. And I wanted my children to grow up with a sense of purpose in life. We had no desire to sell anything.
It’s probably important to point out that we were completely clueless city slickers. Neither my husband nor I had grown up on a farm. I had visited my grandparent’s farm a few times as a child, and those were some of my fondest memories. I also naively thought that since people had been doing this since the beginning of time that it would be simple. My vision of gardening was that you planted seeds and came back a few months later and harvested dinner. We had a lot to learn.
But once we did learn to feed ourselves, we wound up growing an abundance! Eggs were the first thing we ever sold. I did know that chickens will lay almost an egg a day, but I never gave it a second thought when the hatchery required a minimum order of 25 chicks. I ordered 22 hens and 4 roosters without ever doing the math. During peak laying season, we found ourselves with ten or twelve dozen eggs a week, which was way more than our family of five wanted to eat.
We sold a few dozen to friends here and there, but we had so many that one day I decided to volunteer to provide snacks for coffee hour at our church. In order to use up a couple dozen eggs, I made egg salad sandwiches and creme brulee pie. People were raving about both and asked me for the recipes. I told them I’d be happy to give them the recipe, but the amazing flavor was because of the eggs. And that was the birth of our egg business.
I have similar stories for just about everything that we sell or have sold. I never sat down and wrote a business plan — not saying that I recommend that — but instead, I just started looking for a way to use up or sell things that we produced in excess on our homestead … beef, pork, chicken, turkey, goat, lamb, fruits, vegetables, herbs, wool, and goat milk soap.
We’ve learned a lot in the last 15 years, not just about homesteading, but about business as well. And that’s what I’ll be sharing with you in the coming months. We homesteaders need to stick together and help each other with our businesses. By providing our own little corners of the universe with more homegrown goodness, we can make the world a better place.