Homesteading – Making Plans, Budgetting Time

A sensible householder makes a budget. We all know that; figure out how much money is coming in, and how much needs to go out, and hope that the latter isn’t more than the former. But do we make time budgets, as well? Do we plan our project and work time efficiently?

We would probably all agree that the computer and internet can be wicked time thieves, and we won’t even go into the subject of television. Those have to be the snack foods of our time budget. I find though, that like working in the kitchen, working on the computer – that is, real work – tends to make me “snack” a little more, because the temptation is right at hand. If I don’t watch myself, I go over budget on computer/’net snacks.

I have a stack of sewing projects to do: Two dresses, three or four aprons, two shirts for my husband, a quilt for my granddaughter, a spring dress for her, sunbonnets, aprons and Amish dolls to sell. I have wool to be carded and spun. I want to knit a “sontag” (shawl) for myself, and maybe before next winter, a sweater for Nicholas. If I can learn good sock and mitten knitting, then those will be added to the market products. Starting in February and going through May, I will set two or three hours aside everyday for this work. I will also budget some time for writing projects, but since the payoff is more uncertain, that will be relegated to the hours after other work is done.

I plan to set up Excel spreadsheets to manage our finances and track expenses and income. There’s not much use in homesteading if we aren’t at least breaking even on our efforts, feeding ourselves, and cutting down on what we buy. I’ve seen others make that mistake! They end up spending more on buying tools, supplies and equipment in order to “live with less.”

These are the tasks that need time and financial budgetting – plowing, fencing, ordering seed and materials; carpentry for the barn. I’m having trouble finding hard numbers on potential market sales. The farmers’ markets here don’t seem to bother to gather sales figures, so there isn’t much way to predict what one can expect to sell. I will check with the provincial webpages, but I’m not too hopeful on finding what the average market produce vendor makes in sales. People here see farmers’ markets more as a place of entertainment and socializing rather than their main source of nutrition or real goods. They attend the market to visit, buy prepared food, and browse. Attendance can be high while sales might be low. I found that the largest markets in Ontario seemed to have good sales figures; the smallest markets seemed to have the same problems as all markets, of having visitors who don’t buy much.

Predictions and projections for the world economy this coming year show that food is likely to get more expensive everywhere, and that grain will top the price climb. I’m trying to prepare for that possibility by looking for a good-priced, efficient grain mill to use in the kitchen, and if I can find that, will arrange to buy local grain to grind. We will have to pray for good growing weather locally! I am also looking for used canning equipment, as always.

I expect that certain products we use daily will become luxury items by the end of the year, such as coffee and sugar. While stockpiling is one possibility, I think cutting back on these products might be a better idea.

This won’t be a no-buy year, since we still need to get equipment and household furnishings, but it may be the last year we have to buy much. Judicious planning and budgetting will make the difference in being able to live on our income or having to seek work outside.

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21 thoughts on “Homesteading – Making Plans, Budgetting Time

  1. I’m StealthJew’s friend that picked up knitting a couple of weeks ago.

    Knitting mittens is fairly easy. I knit them in a Scandinavian colorwork style that looks very fancy, but is dead easy. A pair of them takes about $4 worth of wool. The designs traditionally came from the Selbu region of Norway, but many people have done modernized versions of the design. This is a good free pattern for one.

    http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEw11/PATTchrysanthemum.php

    You can google “Selbuvotter” for more traditional styles.

    Shawls are very easy, but I dislike most sontags; they are too small and narrow. You might like Faroese shawls, they are sort of a trapezoid shape with triangles coming over the shoulder, so they stay on when worn untied. You can also bring the ends around and tie them behind the waist. Very handy.

    This a free pattern that a beginner should be able to handle.

    http://www.siskiyouknits.com/grannielinda/faroeseshawlmethod.htm

    Many knitters embellish shawls with lace patterns, which are fairly simple.

    • These are both beautiful patterns, and look easy to follow. The Norwegian style mittens would make great market items! Thank you very much.

      • Yes, that’s true of any good knitting – what should be a $50 item, they want to pay $10. But rather plain mittens and socks sell well here. I’ll have to ask to see what is being charged.

  2. Do you know of anything to grow that is hard to come by in the stores or expensive that people might want to buy? In my town we have farmer’s market days in autumn and things that I have seen sell very well are exotic sallads, chard and green beans which were sold at a lower prize than at the store. At least here in Sweden fresh green beans are really expensive but quite easy to grow. Chard is dead easy to grow, I even grow it on my balcony but I do not know if it works where you live.

    • All of the above are good suggestions. We are the end of the line for the produce trucks, even in summer, so our store produce is never the best. People here do love green beans! Chard grows well, too.

    • It probably would, but I won’t mislead people; they may be attracted to the Plain people, but I would hope they would buy because I can offer quality products! If not, I shouldn’t be selling, I guess.

      • I agree with you Magda but because of your attire there will be those who will buy of you because they will see you as Amish.

      • We are pretty well-known locally – we’d have to get a few miles away to pass! (We both led churches here.) People here are really blunt – they’ll just come right out and ask!

  3. I agree with Elin, fresh produce is always a winner. I went to a weekly market held by a local church that had about eight regular stalls, the following items seemed to sell well: fresh cut bunches of flowers and most particularly the gladiola, fresh tomatoes that were ready before mine were, strawberries sold well, one lady made wonderful granola and also sold couscous, another couple sold honey (the problem with honey, how often do you need to buy it??). Things that did not appear to sell at all, hand crafted stained glass window hangings, framed pictures and photographs. I suspect most customers did as I did, took $10 and that was what they were going to spend in total. The church sponsored market was free for the vendors so it was a good deal for them and it was on Saturday morning 9 – 12. The church also did a GOOD JOB promoting the market. I think the stained glass and pictures etc. did not sell because they were in the $15 and up category and that is more than most want to spend.
    Our community also had a weekly market in a small park on Tuesday evenings from 4 – 7, this never attracted more than a few vendors, and I never stopped in, though occasionally drove by while it was going, and from what I could tell customers were non-existent. The Tuesday market was not well promoted, I think vendors had to pay to set up, and Tuesday evening is not a good time to have a market.
    You need to work at markets that are well promoted, are scheduled on a day that will encourage high attendance, and plan a product line that will sell. Or, work to organize your own market and make your money renting vendor space 🙂

    • This is all good advice. We were in a good market several years ago, but not all markets are equal, for sure! There are two within a short drive. I will talk to some vendors I know to see which will be the best, and visit early in the season. I find that a market that is junked up with flea market type tables, lots of sort of pathetic crafts, or high end artsy goods is not successful for farm products. Some markets limit the number of vendors in each category, but sometimes the managers drop any discretion in order to fill up empty spaces, and that is counter-productive. Small, inexpensive, practical handcrafts like mittens sell well here, as do good fresh produce and baked goods.

      • Having grown up in England, we had a regular market that came to town on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s, it took up the whole town square and sold everything from housewares, clothing, produce, fish, knick knacks, yarn, jewellery, toys, flowers, anything you could imagine. The market had been going on for years and years when I lived there and then we moved. I returned to my home town 30 years after leaving and visited on Wednesday, and the market was there and still going strong. This market was so wonderful, my sisters and I went almost every Saturday, everyone went to town on market day – and when I visited a couple of years ago, it still seemed to be extremely well attended. The vendors make a living off of their stall, they call out and banter with people walking past, it is fun. I have never seen anything close to an English market in the US, mores the pity.

      • My husband remembers street markets. They are descended from the old cathedral markets, when people came into town to sell their goods in the space around the biggest churches and cathedrals. American flea markets are descended from them, I suppose. Farmer’s markets here in Canada were just that until recently, those that remained open. Many are now combined with flea markets and crafts markets, but usually only food vendors do well at them. It may be that Walmart has made those little vendors obsolete, as well.

  4. Bury St. Edmunds is a Cathedral Town, and also has a splendid park area called The Abbey Gardens, which contains the ruins of an early abbey, and the town is sited near the burial site of St. Edmund.

  5. The one thing I know about markets around here, is that once someone buys at your stall, as long as they are pleased with your items, they tend to stay loyal and keep coming back specifically to your stall. The big thing is to check out the markets and find out what people are selling and try to find a nich. The good sellers at the market we helped to run were: fair trade organic coffee (people like to wander with a hot coffee in their hands), BBq’d sausages and roasted potatoes, peas, corn, carrots, berries and fruit smoothies. Organic whole grain bread was a runner up.

    • I really do not want to do food prep, as it involves food-handlers courses and licensed kitchens. The course is no problem, but getting a kitchen license is – I have a dog, which will just prohibit getting my home kitchen under license, although she isn’t in the kitchen. At one market where we sold for a couple of years, we had to ask to be moved because we were directly across from a bbq vendor, and we as well as other vendors had items ruined by customers who dripped grease on them while leaning against our tables. I’ve also lost items to coffee spills – and most people will just say “Sorry” – if that – and walk on. It might be why some markets separate food prep areas from other vendors.

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