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Do you want to have a stall at your local Farmer’s Market this year, but would rather not sell produce? Perhaps you grow enough produce for your family, but there’s not enough room to grow extra for the market. Or, maybe there are already tons of people selling produce at your local market, and you want to do something different. Even if you do sell produce, there are always going to be times when fresh fruits and vegetables are out of season, or just aren’t quite ready to sell.  Don’t worry! There are lots of things you can sell at the market that aren’t produce.

As you’re brainstorming for ideas, it’s important to remember that some items will require a special license, especially edible items. You might need a cottage foods license or even a food handler’s license, depending on what you plan to sell. You’ll want to check into your state’s laws before you start creating your products. Think about things that you already know how to make and make well. Remember, you don’t need to have a vast variety of items to take to market. You can specialize in just a few handmade items that people love, and they’ll come back to see you time and time again.

Here are some ideas to get you started!

1. Beauty Products

Selling homemade beauty products has become quite popular in recent years, but you can still stand out from the crowd if your products are unique. You could create artisan soaps in unusual scents that no one else is doing. Or, develop recipes for vegan beauty products and tap into that niche. Lip balms, bath salts, scrubs, lotions, and natural deodorants are all very popular if you can find a way to make your products different from what everyone else is selling.

2. Arts and Crafts

The possibilities for selling handcrafted arts and crafts items are literally endless. I’ve seen vendors at our local market do very well with everything from quilts and aprons to hand-painted nativities, potholders, and pottery. Canvas wall art is also trendy. If you live in a touristy area, consider doing landscapes of local landmarks. Hand carved spoons, and kitchen utensils, Christmas ornaments, doll and baby clothes, and needlework are just a few other ideas.

3. Baked Goods

A lot of folks can’t resist homemade baked goods like cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and breads. One vendor at our local market sells out of her incredible candy and caramel apples every week. Cake pops, suckers, homemade fudge, caramels, and regional specialties are all good sellers. Although they’re not necessarily baked goods, made to order lemonade and popcorn in a variety of flavors also go over very well.

4. Preserves

If you are an experienced canner, many folks would love to sample your home-canned preserves and other foods. Jams, jellies, and salsas will always be a favorite. But, it doesn’t have to stop there! You could do pickles, relishes, sauerkraut, fruit butters, and much more.

5. Resale Items

Some markets don’t allow retail items, but if yours does, consider adding some new or vintage resale items to your booth. If you love to hit the thrift stores, flea markets, and auctions, look for vintage kitchen items like cookie cutters, mixing bowls, and rolling pins. These types of things will sell new, too, but you’ll probably make more money if you find them vintage.

6. Gourmet Dog Treats

People love to spoil their dogs! You could create treats in traditional flavors like peanut butter and bacon, but don’t forget to tap into niche markets, too. Many people will snap up gluten-free, vegan, and grain free treats for their dogs, especially if they’re made from organic ingredients.

7. Plants and Planting Supplies

Selling plant starts and garden starting supplies can be an excellent way to start off the market season while you’re waiting for your produce to come in. Of course, you can sell vegetable and herb transplants, but consider selling things like tomato cages, bags of rabbit or chicken manure for garden fertilizer, and starting trays. Don’t forget, you can sell seeds or bulbs you saved from your garden last year, too. Other ideas include strawberry plants (make a little cash with all those runners), seed potatoes, and onion transplants, also. Hanging baskets full of flowers and potted herb gardens will be good sellers, too.

Keys to Success at the Farmer’s Market

Obviously, there’s more to it than just setting up a table and putting your stuff on it. Once you’ve decided what to sell and checked into the legalities of your product, you need to come up with a creative way to present your items and get people to come to your booth. Here are some keys to being successful at the Farmer’s Market.

• Be reliable but not entirely predictable. Choose certain items that customers can count on you having every week. They’ll come to your booth to get their favorite chocolate chip cookies every Saturday morning. While they’re there, you can point out those new cupcakes you’re making or the seasonal produce that you’ll only have for a limited time.

• Packaging and presentation are everything! Prices should be clearly marked on all items. For small things, put them in a cute basket or bowl and attach a little sign. Always include your farm’s name and contact info on your products. List ingredients or care instructions where applicable. Remember to give customers a business card so they can find you again or recommend you to others.

• Know the rules and regulations. We’ve already mentioned that states will have rules regarding the sale of many items, but it’s worth repeating. Don’t assume that you can sell an item until you’ve done your research. Every market will have its own set of rules, as well. Some markets will require you to have a certain size and color tent for your booth. Some will require that everything is locally grown or locally made. Just make sure you know what’s needed before you invest your time and money into a product.

If you dream of having a booth at your local Farmer’s Market, the cold months of winter offer the perfect opportunity to create your products or fine-tune your recipes. In fact, there are markets available year-round in many parts of the country if you want to get started now. Either way, thinking beyond produce can provide all sorts of money making opportunities for your homestead.

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Geese: 10 Things to Know About Raising Them

Geese are an easy care, multi-purpose animal that can be a great addition to almost any homestead. In my experience, geese are even easier to care for than chickens because they’re very self-sufficient. Even better, they are usually good mommas and can often be trusted to raise up their own babies.

10 Key Things to Know About Geese

1. Geese Like to Graze

In some ways, geese are very different from chickens and ducks, and this is one of them. While your chickens and ducks will search for bugs and other high protein snacks when they forage, geese have digestive systems that are made to convert grass into eggs and meat. That means that your geese will need abundant access to fresh greens along with their standard poultry pellets. (Never give geese medicated poultry food; it’s dosed for chickens, and it can be toxic to other types of fowl.)

2. Geese are Tough

If you live in a climate with very cold winters, geese might just be the perfect type of poultry for you. They prefer to be outside, even on the coldest of days. It’s not at all unusual to see a flock of geese happily grooming themselves out in the snow, right in the middle of a blizzard. That means you don’t have to provide elaborate housing; just make sure they’re safe from predators and the can get out of the elements if they want to.

3. Geese are Great for Free Ranging

While ducks and chickens are nearly defenseless when they free range, geese can actually defend themselves against many predators very well. In fact, if you have a mixed poultry flock, your geese can do a pretty good job of keeping your chickens and ducks safer while they’re free ranging, too. Just remember to put them in a safe spot at night because they’re night vision is horrible, and they can’t fight off a predator if they can’t see it.

4. Geese are Ground Dwelling Birds

Geese don’t roost the way chickens do. Their large webbed feet are made for paddling in the water and walking across soggy, muddy ground; they are not meant for roosting on a perch. Be sure they’re enclosure has plenty of clean floor space. The won’t use raised nesting boxes either; they’ll need large nesting boxes on the floor.

5. Geese Love Water

Geese are at their happiest when they have access to water. A plastic kid’s swimming pool will do the trick, there’s no need to provide an actual pond. They’ll splash and bath in it very happily all summer long. During the colder months, you’ll need to provide a small water source that’s just deep enough for them to submerge their heads and change it often to prevent it from freezing up on them. Don’t provide a water source that’s big enough for them to bathe in during freezing temperatures, though. They should be kept as dry as possible during the coldest months because their wet breasts and feet might actually freeze to the snow and ice. Trust me, chipping a goose out of the ice in the middle of a snowstorm is not a good time for you or the goose.

6. Goose Eggs Won’t Hatch Without Moisture

Chickens are land birds, and their nests should be kept completely dry during the incubation process. Goose eggs, on the other hand, need moisture to hatch. The momma goose will leave the nest for a short time and bath in order to get her feathers wet so that their eggs will have the necessary moisture they need during incubation. If you want to hatch goose eggs in an incubator, be sure to do some research first to familiarize yourself with the proper procedures.

7. Goose Eggs Don’t Cook Up the Same as Chicken Eggs

Since goose eggs have all that extra moisture, they will cook up a little bit different than chicken eggs. The first thing you’ll notice is that their yolks are much richer and bigger. The whites are quite a bit runnier, too. I’ve found the yolks to be fantastic for making custards, but the whites are terrible for making meringue because they don’t whip up correctly.

8. Goose Meat Does Not Taste Like Chicken

Many people assume that goose meat will taste like chicken or turkey, but that’s not the case at all. Their meat is actually more reminiscent of beef. If your homestead is quite small, raising geese for meat can give you some much-needed variety in your production without the need to raise a beef cow. In fact, even you don’t plan to raise geese for meat, sometimes ganders can be aggressive, and no matter what you do, their attacking behavior can’t be stopped. If you must harvest an aggressive gander, you’ll be in for a special treat.

9. Geese Usually Aren’t Aggressive

Geese have been given a bad rap for being aggressive, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just like any other animal, it usually comes down to the way they’re handled. Geese that have been handled a lot and raised by hand are often more like cuddly lap dogs than they are farm animals. Our geese used to come running when we got home. They would even circle around our ankles and nuzzle us, just like kitty cats.

10. Geese are a Bit Like Guard Dogs

Be aware though, they probably won’t be nearly as welcoming to strangers. Even a flock of friendly geese will probably have to be locked up when company calls. Steps will have to be taken to protect your mailman and UPS guy, too. They’ll think of you, your family, and the other animals on your farms as part of their flock, but strangers, not so much. In fact, they can be used in much the same way as guard dogs because they will fiercely defend their territory against all intruders.

Geese would be a perfect easy-care addition to many homesteads. With their ability to lay delicious eggs, mow the grass, and provide fantastic meat for the freezer, they might be just the multipurpose animal you’re looking for.

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  • Geese: 10 Things to Know About Raising ThemGeese: 10 Things to Know About Raising Them
    Geese are an easy care, multi-purpose animal that can be a great addition to almost any homestead. In my experience, geese are even easier to care for than chickens because they’re very self-sufficient. Even better, they are usually good mommas and can often be trusted to raise up their own babies. 10 Key Things to …