Comparing homesteading and farming is like comparing apples to oranges. They are both fruit but very different. That’s not to say you can’t do both, but I think the biggest difference is intent behind the action. It’s like being a carpenter for work vs being good at building things. It can be vastly different but could easily turn into the other. So now that I’ve muddied the waters, let’s clear up the question: is homesteading farming?
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Homesteading Vs Farming
The definition of homesteading is a lifestyle of self sufficiency. A farm is a business, regardless of size. So while they are very similar they are not the same. A homestead can earn an income and then create a business but that was not the intent behind starting a homestead.
What Is A Homestead?
A homestead is your ability to live in a self sufficient way. While your homestead can make money, that is not the purpose of the homestead. The purpose is to try to do as much for yourself and family as possible. For some people this looks like a farm. For others, it’s growing their tomato sauce for the year. The rest of us fall somewhere in the middle.
What Is A Farm?
A farm is where you have created a business that you use your land to do. For example: tomato farm, chicken farm, beef farm, etc. These can be huge 200+ acre operations or 10 acre orchards. It really doesn’t matter. A farm could have multiple revenue sources like being a egg producer and tomato farm or have cattle, swine and poultry all on the same farm. But the entire purpose behind the endeavor is to make money.
So What’s The Difference?
I think the biggest difference is the intent. To give you my personal example, we homestead. But the homestead does generate a small income from the things the homestead produces for self sustainability. We want to be self sustaining with our dairy intake. That means that we have chickens for eggs and goats for milk.
We sell extra eggs or we will hatch chicks and keep or sell those chicks. That helps produce a small income for the homestead.
To get milk and cheese, we breed our girls. This results in goat kids that we need to do something with. Most of the time, we are able to sell the kids but when we can’t, they go to freezer camp.
Making The Choice Between Homesteading And Farming
Do you HAVE to make a choice between homesteading and farming? Meh. I think it would be wise to make decisions based on the possibility of turning into a farm. But I don’t think you need to go out and buy the barn, tractor, etc. I think you can slowly let your homestead evolve into a farm if that is something you are interested in.
Finding Business Opportunities… Later
I have talked in depth about making a plan for your homestead in multiple posts because I truly believe that it is important. And if your dream is to retire from your job and homestead full time, you need to really look into how you’re going to earn an income. But you don’t have to do it right now. Especially when you are still learning how to do this homestead thing.
I am a big believer in learning how to do something really well first, then learn how to sell it. Sure, while you’re learning you can start thinking about how to sell it. But you don’t want to sell a product until you know as much as possible about it.
A Word Of Caution With Farming
Unless you were born into a farming lifestyle, I would caution you about getting into farming. The reason I say that is because if you are not well versed in how to raise meat chickens, you may not do it in the most profitable way. Or you may spend thousands of dollars getting set up to sell meat chickens, only to realize that you absolutely HATE farming meat chickens.
Instead, I suggest getting started with homesteading. Learning what you like and don’t like on a much smaller scale before jumping in with both feet.
For us, if we had gone with our original plan, which was selling rabbits, we would have operated in the red for many years before turning even a small profit. That’s not good business.
I’m not saying don’t do it. But I am saying to consider all the angles before jumping in with both feet.
Is Homesteading Farming?
At its core, no. Homesteading is about learning how to be self sufficient and if you can turn a profit, great. But don’t let that discourage you! There are a ton of homesteaders out there that quit their 9-5 and focus only on the land. But they are doing it in a way that takes care of them first and profit second.
We are setting up our greenhouse to have a place to start seedlings. But we can very easily start more and more seedlings and sell those. That brings in an income for something we are doing anyways. That’s how we are going to pay off debt and leave the rat race.
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