Being a farmer is tough, mainly because land is expensive, and if you live in an area with a poor climate, you are unable to use your main asset for a portion of the year. Some farmers are able to grow crops all year long, but not everyone has that luxury so many farmers and their families seek out extra sources of income. There is a common saying that goes something like this:
The secret to a successful farmer is a wife who works in town
The joke is that most farmers cant make enough money from the goods that they farm to survive, so one of the members of the family has to get a job in town. Of course, this is not always true but typically can be.
Even though famers who live in poor climates have some of their land unable to produce crops during the winter, that does not mean they can not make any money off of it. There are plenty of other things that farmers can do during the growing off season to earn a bit of cash from their land and build up a bit of savings. Here are some good ones. (We have many favorites, but as the landowner you need to look at what will work for you. For instance, our neighbors have a private trap range and allow shooting and shotguns and all of that jazz – we do not.)
1) Hunting – Many farms have what a lot of hunters need (and want) – a sizeable amount of land! Many hunters need to get access to public land through private land, or if there is no access, they need permission to hunt on private land from the land owner so that they will be able to fill their freezer for the winter. Often times, land owners can cash in on this deal many different ways – they get a stipend from the state game and fish or natural resources office if a game animal is harvested on their place (usually 15-20% of the total cost of the tag). Not only can the landowner make a bit of extra cash off of the tag fee, but they can also make a bit of money from the hunters – either in the form of leasing their land to an outfitter or by charging hunters a small fee to access. Many hunters gladly will pay if a farmer has good wildlife resources on their property. You do need to be careful about this though, because if you over sell one year you will end up with nothing the next year. There are plenty of different hunting websites to find hunters in your area that you can look at, and one of my favorite hunting websites is hunterinsight.com.
2) Tours/Events – There are many people that have not been on a farm before, and always are curious about how farms work and what people do on a farm (shocking, right?). If you are interested, you can offer your farm for tours to locals or a local school and take the kids around when production has halted in the fall. You can tell them about what you do and how you do it, the equipment that you use and everything else you do on a day to day basis as a farmer. There are also events that you can hold at your farm. Some of the more popular ones are obviously concerts, but also corn mazes and other holiday themed activities. These events have been growing in popularity, and since farmers have lots of land at their disposal they can create a good environment for these types of things. Even better if you can get a good concert series to your place every year – a sure thing dose of extra cash!
3) Passion Events - This is another one of the many things available to farmers because of the large amount of land they own. You can read more about side hustles for farming at the modern farmer, but an amusement park is one of the better ideas. There are also opportunities if you are willing to host weddings or do something with your farm that you are passionate about. There are many different things that you could do to bring in a bit of extra revenue during the down season, and it is up to you to go out and find it. One thing that we recommend is that you find something that you enjoy doing – that way it wont feel like work when you’re doing it. Make sure it makes a bit of money, but dont pick a project because you think it will make a lot of money. Pick one you enjoy and see if that will make a lot of money – like go cart racing or something similar.
Living on a farm can be tough, and cash can get tight. There are a lot of ways for farmers to generate extra revenue in just a bit of time using the assets they already have. If this is the difference between saving and losing your farm, you should always try something. Even if you end up failing, at least you can say that you tried.