Grit Blogs > Hobby Farming in Ohio

Farming and Financial Gain

Jenna TygerFor the past four years, we’ve considered our farm to be our hobby. We haven’t tried to make any money on the farm, besides selling eggs to people we know here and there, and we sold them cheap – not even close to covering the cost of chicken feed. 

Lately, we’ve been considering making the farm work for us. Our pasture is six acres, and the horse and pony we have barely make a dent in trimming the grass, so Chris ends up spending half the spring and summer mowing the pasture. Sometimes it just seems like a waste of space that could be used on possibly lucrative endeavors.

Field of Dreams 

Because of this, we’ve been considering raising cows. I haven’t even begun to research whether this would work for us, but assuming it could, we have to decide if we can do it.

See, Chris and I are softies when it comes to animals. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t have so many pets. We wouldn’t have 4-year-old chickens. We wouldn’t have a partially blind horse and a disabled pony. And we wouldn’t still have the guinea fowl that have only caused us problems.

So we wonder if we have what it takes to care for cows for several months, and then send them off to be turned into food. We both eat meat, and I realize this is hypocritical, but it’s much less personal to open a package of meat to cook and eat than it is to look into an animal’s eyes every day knowing you might be eating it eventually. I even think they're kind of cute (the cows below are dairy cows, but beef cows are cute too!), and have more personality than most people give them credit for having.

Are there cows in my future?

I know if we decide to do it, we would have to go into it mentally prepared, resolute in our plans, but I’m afraid that won’t be enough. I'll have to remember why we're doing it. We'll know where our meat came from and know the animal was treated well when it was alive, unlike most of the meat sold in grocery stores. And we'll be able to provide that to others who want the same.

We’re having similar thoughts regarding raising chickens. Should we try raising meat chickens? Could we do it? Should we get more chickens for eggs, and then do what most farmers do and sell them once they stop producing?

I don’t know the answer to these questions yet. If we are going to stay on our farm for the long haul, it makes financial sense to start earning from it. But whether we have what it takes to do that is still to be determined.

Do you have any reservations about profiting from your animals? If so, how did you overcome them? I’d love to hear from others.

gavind
7/18/2016 11:29:19 AM

Hi Jenna! I think making the farm work for you is a really good idea. There are many benefits to making even the slightest profit, with of course being the fact that your family can then eat "for free" being one of them. We raise pigs, meat chickens and lamb, all sold as whole or half (in the case of pigs). We are able to make a profit and pay for the animals we eat at the same time. The demand is definitely there in our area and we are currently considering expanding our production to meet it. Start small, I would honestly suggest pigs at first. Get two, see if you like it, eat one and sell the other. The commitment is only a few months and you'll see how you do. If it's not for you, no huge loss. If you go big and it's not for you, then you can really set yourself back. Good luck! Gavin Dinnel Dinner Time Farm