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Senior Contributor

A different kind of side business

Our friend over in Ohio, Ed Winkle, shared this link earlier -- it's a story about a farm couple in Brown County who just retired from farming to discover they have some of the purest clay in their soils, apparently in the world. So, they've started selling the stuff for sculptors. It's a really neat story:

 

Who would have thought selling clay like this would be a revenue stream on the farm? Sure an interesting take on the whole idea of a side business. 

 

So, get creative: Thinking in terms of a pretty unconventional idea like this, what might work as an out-of-the-ordinary side business at your place? Hey, there's even an outfit down in southwest Kansas where they sell tumbleweeds! What's your big, wacky idea? Let's hear 'em!

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Advisor

Re: A different kind of side business

My sister in law makes and sells soy wax candles.  Most sales are at farmers markets.  I had her ship some to a friend in Japan and teased her about now having an international business ran out of her basement!

As I am within a few years of retirement from the Navy I have been thinking about this.  Want to farm, another quarter section or two of farmland would be ideal but with prices like they are that might not be feasible.  Then someone would also have to sell in my area, not many farms are selling.  So maybe a small niche business.  Don't want anything that is full time, so seasonal is what I am looking for. 

Although I have travelled many places there are still many I want to go see.  Just need the time to do it.

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Honored Advisor

Re: A different kind of side business

Saying that this kind of business is "site specific" is a gross understatement.  It was a very serendipitous discovery of a unique asset. 

 

I've just learned that our mineral sands deposits on family farmland in VA are being eyed for more mining.  This has been going on since 1996, and may outlive me. 

 

Again, something that only exists where it exists in the right concentrations for economic significance. 

 

I have considered a lot of unusual sidelines, but the main limitation is time.  A couple of my hobbies can have sconomic potential, at least in normal economic times.  Mike and I have discussed converting one or two things into business, but that sort of sucks the pleasure out of them, when they become work instead of play. 

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Honored Advisor

Really weird one for you....

...and not particularly well thought-out, but here goes:

 

The past three or four years, I've studied historic preservation technology on a continuing ed basis.  This led to an interest in the households of other historical eras, particularly farmstead ones.  I also have a fascination with alternative building technologies. 

 

There is a business idea somewhere in the middle of all that...I've dreamed of constructing some mini-homesteads, not for sale, but for rent, to wannabee famers.  That would be more fun and instructive if done using local materials.  More precisely, I'd like to make a sort of living history exhibit for people with interests in  different historical eras.  

 

I'd like to try to build houses and support structures/outbuildings from different eras, say ones typical of our region for c. 1600, 1700, 1800 , 1900, and 2000.  It might even be fun to add a projection of ag homesteading in 2100. 

 

Some sidelines take really visoonary planning to execute.  I have read stories about families that harvest holly boughs for Christmas decorating, from  trees planted by ancestors.  Have a cousin with a nice stand of pecan trees his ganddaddy planted. 

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Advisor

Re: A different kind of side business

Actually, selling clay isn't that unusual in Ohio. If you look around NW Ohio, you'll see quite a few abandoned tile kilns that were pressed into service back when we drained the Great Black Swamp..and began farming up here. All I can say is, Thank GOD for plastic tile.....LOL

 

 

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Honored Advisor

Re: A different kind of side business

Here in the Southeast, it was clay for brick.  The brick in out home's footings was made here on the farm.  NC is known for its Seagrove potters, too. 

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