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Yes, the point of building a homestead is to be self-sufficient, healthier and live a good life that we can be proud of. And yes, somewhere along the way, I want it to be more of a business – making money from the land too. What can I say? My husband and I are also business people and have had very successful home-based businesses in the past, so why not use the skills we have to help the homestead along?

The business application: What skills do you have?

I had a home-based web design business. I LOVE web design. I went in head first and my heart has stayed there even to this day. But I had to let it go since running a (mostly) one-woman show took all of the time I had and more. I didn’t have the drive it takes to fully devote my entire life to it, since my life was about my family. So I do it for fun now.

And then there is the hubby’s business: construction. He is a general contractor that usually subs out any work that he can’t do himself. That was all fine and dandy until the day we decided to build our own home. I suddenly found myself an employer with employees. Wow! What a whirlwind of rules and regulations that was! I can now say that I am an authority on graciously firing numskulls, jumping through hoops for the Feds, and handing over payroll tax money without crying.

And speaking of taxes, I taught myself how to prepare our personal taxes and did them for several years. We used to have our taxes prepared by a professional until I got the bright idea to save money and volunteered to do them. “How hard could it be? We have Turbo Tax!” The hubby took over when I could no longer speak, only babble, come April 15th.

And finally, I used to manage an apartment building and still manage our rental home to this day. I know the California Tenant-Landlord Handbook like the back of my hand. I have a smart-looking suit and sensible shoes (ready to wear) for the moment I have to go to court on any problem that may arise. My management style is to the point, reasonable and most of all it’s fair.

Old Homestead Hideaway: Your lifestyle is your business?

So, with all of the above experience, why not continue to use it right? Seems logical to me. I can see myself sitting at a farmstand or selling our goods online or at the Farmers’ Market downtown. I can see us teaching others the how to’s of homesteading. But as with any business I know the importance of protecting yourself. I did a bit of homework and decided to create a “homestead”. Literally. The idea came to me because of my web design business. It was run under an LLC, which protects your personal assets and family from a business attack. For example, if you do business with someone who in turn decides to sue you, that person cannot include your home or personal assets in the lawsuit. So I started thinking of how I can protect all that we have put into our property from such attacks, because you never know what could happen! The problem I was having is that the business IS the personal asset. It turns out that the answer is to file your home as a homestead, turning it into something that has limited protection against a lawsuit, creditors and sometimes even the government itself. There are specific requirements that allow for a residence to be viewed as a homestead (primary dwelling, must have a fence, etc) which isn’t hard to meet. (varies from state to state)

If you decide to go for it, my best advice is to get a service like legalzoom.com to help you. While I saved money the first time around creating my LLC on my own, I felt waves a nausea come and go from all the ups and downs and ins and outs of starting it. I don’t have any problem asking (and paying) for help this time around. And they were happy to help – sending me every possible form I’d need to start the homestead and run it as a business. They will ask you to describe what you want, and this is where you have to be specific even if it sounds stupid. There are different requirements for every little thing, so you must have a clear description ready for them. I had no problem telling them what I envisioned for the future. In fact, I think one of the things I wrote came across as confrontational. (I may want to make glycerin soap and sell it, got a problem with that?) They took it like the professionals that they are.

Cost breakdown: Is all of it worth the trouble?

I have faith that running a homestead will eventually make up for the initial start-up costs. I liken it to making cheese. You can pay around $4 for a pound of cheese. If you buy cheesecloth (in bulk) and make your own cheese from cows milk (a gallon of milk costs around $3) you will eventually pay for the initial cost and then slowly start saving money. And there is a side bonus: The leftover whey can be used in other dishes and provides added health benefits as well. Now apply that to our homestead plan, where every investment will eventually be paid back and we may even have a few added bonuses to boot. (These do not include time/wages.)

Biodiesel

   » Investment:

$1,000 – $3,000 for biofuel production equipment, and $1,000 – $3,000 for two vehicles that run on diesel (after selling our current vehicles)

   » Immediate benefit:

Paying about .80¢ per gallon instead of $3.60 (average in California)

   » Investment return:

Paid for in about two years (only one if we already had diesel cars!)

   » Bonus:

The byproduct of biodiesel is glycerin… so we’ll be making soap and/or adding it to the garden for free

Kitchen and Market Gardens

   » Investment:

About $2,500 in setup costs which includes compost, misc gardening tools and travel expenses when gathering the trees used to make raised beds

$400-$500 for a greenhouse and supplies for starting seed.

About $1,500 paid out to a laborer for help during the heaviest work months. (setup only, about 5 hours per day for a total of 30 days)

About $500 for seed/garlic (first year only)

   » Immediate benefit:

Knowing where our food comes from, gaining control over our health and well-being and eating organic, heirloom varieties not available anywhere else

   » Investment return:

 (Future) projected profit for selling at the farmers markets is $2,500 a month. (weekends only, spring to fall only) Initial investment should be returned the first summer after established at the markets (does not include heavy equipment, see below)

   » Bonus:

 Compost will be free thereafter

 

(working on the numbers, but you get the idea)

 

Livestock

» Investment:
» Immediate benefit:
» Investment return:
» Bonus:

Energy Production

» Investment:
» Immediate benefit:
» Investment return:
» Bonus:

Machinery

» Investment:
» Immediate benefit:
» Investment return:
» Bonus:

Homemade Goods

» Investment:
» Immediate benefit:
» Investment return:
» Bonus:

Business Startup

» Investment:
» Immediate benefit:
» Investment return:
» Bonus:

Selling: Using an old-fashioned business model.

When someone tells you they run their own business you might picture them renting a large building, hiring employees, buying wholesale products for retail sales (or creating a product at high costs and high sales rates), and tearing their hair out trying to hold it all together. (That poor soul! Ruining a perfectly good head of hair.) But do you ever think about the guy on the corner selling children’s wagons he hand-crafted himself? What about the woman at the neighborhood flea market that is surrounded by her own expertly sewn quilts and knitted socks? In my opinion, these people have a leg up on how to run a business, because they’ve cut out all the red tape that many believe to be necessary in life. It’s like the two (very different) homes my family has lived in: One was modest and needed repair but we were happy to be together, and the other looked like it came right out of a magazine but we would have to work ourselves to death to keep it. Which one is worth the trouble? Yep, you know the answer. I’d like to keep my hair please. I plan to use what I have to make what we need. And that includes experience, skills and of course, my own two hands.

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Why Every Kid Should Have a Pet

If your son or daughter has been hinting or just plain begging for a pet, you might want to consider it. There are benefits to them having a dog, cat, rabbit, bird or another type of pet to care for. It may seem like it will add to your own workload, but the rewards for your child will far outweigh the costs or inconvenience to you.

Pets Inspire Physical and Mental Health

One of the first benefits of getting your child a pet is the possibility of improving their physical health. More exercise can help them fight childhood obesity. Having the responsibility of walking their dog every day or running around the house with a frisky cat can increase their activity level. Active kids are healthier kids.

Higher activity levels when young can help lower the risk of heart attack and high blood pressure as your child reaches adulthood. Pets are also known to help lower stress and blood pressure levels. Studies have shown that young children who are exposed to pets early won’t have near as many allergy and asthma problems relating to pet dander or hair as kids who aren’t allowed to have pets.

Improved mental health is also an added benefit to having a pet – for kids and adults alike. It is widely known that pets help reduce stress and feelings of loneliness or anxiety. Children may turn to their pets when they can’t express their feelings to adults or other kids. Having a supportive friend who listens, doesn’t judge, and loves them unconditionally can help them cope with difficult situations or the stresses of daily life.

Boosted Confidence and Self-Esteem

The boosts to a child’s confidence and self-esteem can be substantial when they have the love and care of a pet. This animal is their friend, they depend on them, and they will love them no matter what a child says or does. When they come home from school, that pet is there excitedly waiting for them. They are happy to see them.

Your child’s confidence will continue to grow due to the fact that there is someone who is always so excited to see them. Their pet just wants to be with them. Younger children will especially see improvement in their confidence as they take on more responsibility in caring for their pet.

Pets Teach Responsibility

Don’t forget that pets can also help teach kids responsibility. Having this animal depending upon them for their well-being makes your child accountable. Your child must do what it takes to keep their animal healthy and happy. Encourage them to learn everything they can about their new pet. Aid them in becoming an expert in the care and welfare of their chosen animal.

The regular chores of changing litter boxes, feeding and watering, and exercise start your child on the road to becoming a responsible adult. Even the smaller pets such as fish in a tank or a hamster in a cage have needs that must be attended to. Your child will learn when the tank or cage should be cleaned and what feeds are needed for their pet.

There are very few drawbacks to getting a pet for your child and your family. Growing up with a pet can mean less stress, less loneliness, more confidence, and better health overall for your child. Do a little research and find out what pet might be a perfect fit for your child.

What kind of pets did you have growing up? Do your kids have animals now?


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