Lately, I’ve been relaxing about Monkey Free Me and writing here and there. It has also allowed me to just sit and watch my blog stats. I have noticed that people are consistently reading anything about teaching. Teacher Budget is my most read and most consistently read. It is being read by many people every day since it was posted. With this watching for a few months, I also get a lot of looks for anything related to my country lifestyle. So today I am going to give you an update on my country hobbies and maybe future plans to the property.
So, to begin with, let’s talk about my two beehives from this Spring. The experiment was expensive for the two hives. I bought everything already put together and only had to paint the boxes which are the most expensive way to do things, and I bought ready to go bees called a “Nuc.” I basically spend around $800-$900 for my two hives after I finished buying the bee gloves and hat. The bees love life down by the pond with plenty of farm and ranch land to gather pollen and they filled their first box up by July and I added another box on top so they could keep having space for all their honey. They only got about four of the eight frames in the top filled with honey, so next Spring and maybe if we have a mild winter they can still have space to keep adding more honey. We harvested one-half frame from one of the hives and it filled two mason jars full of the raw unfiltered honey, and to our surprise, it had a spicy aftertaste. It is super sweet and then about ten seconds later there is a little kick. We read that can happen when they are collecting from Texas wildflowers. I love using it on my pancakes and waffles! I have seen these jars going for $10-$20 around town on the side of the road or in the local feed stores. I figured that if I got serious with my honey production I could sell about 30 jars with my current set up. Or make about $300-$600 a year selling the honey. It would eventually pay off if my bees stay alive and make new queens and don’t try to swarm away. I could also as I learn to try to build some new hives and catch a wild swarm to expand my production. We’ll see what this winter does to my little guys.
Also, for my birthday in Mid November, I finally bought my fruit trees. I bought 2 peach trees, 2 pear trees, and 2 plum trees. I already had a Frankenstein five types of Apple and a Peach/Apricot/Plum tree in the front yard. So now my fruit orchard is up to 8 fruit trees and my parent’s next door also have 8 more fruit trees. I think we will have so much fruit when these all start producing that we will have to start a fruit stand to get rid of it all. We could make another $1,000- $1,500 a year selling fruit and preserves if we wanted to ramp this up with our little production of 16 trees. Each tree only cost $30 tax-free with our ag exemption, so making a profit in fruit is pretty simple. I hope to add some Walnut or a few more pecan trees to our 3 wild ones so we can have another option to make some money in the Fall, or just to make some good pies or add to salads.
I also want to see if I can’t get 4 grape plants going this winter too. I have a nice little sloping area near my fruit trees and next to my campfire area. I have already cut some cedar posts from the forest in the back of my property and I have some metal wire to help string up and support the vines. The grape plants are $15 each and I think I can fit four of them in this sloped space. If the nursery gets the grapes I’m looking for that taste good and are drought resistant then I will plant a small vineyard between the orchard and campfire. I also want to build a small 10’X10′ deck off the other side of the slope, so you can sit up off the ground and have a view of the pond and trees and the other side you would have a view of the vineyard. I have been keeping my hammock in this area lately and it is a great place to just relax in nature. I have priced the deck out and it will be about $600-$650 to build myself. I have never built a deck before, but if I keep it simple, and square, I can make it with straight cuts and a level. It would be awesome to have an elevated sitting area to just relax on weekend and summer mornings watching wild ducks and geese fly in and out.
I also mentioned my campfire. Well with all our rain we have had in Texas it needs some cleaning up. I need to build up the small rock wall and add more gravel around the fire pit where the mud has gotten in. I want my campfire area to look Pinterest and Instagram worthy when I’m done. It already had the Costco outdoor lights strung up in the trees and it has been a great gathering place for when we have company over. The old logs recently rotted out, so I made some seating with pallets and Adirondack chairs. When you add some pillows and seat cushions, the space is very comfortable and warm even into the upper 40’s outside. I think this will cost about $100-$150 to fix up and make Instagram worthy. I’ll keep you updated on this project.
Now for the dreamer in me. I have a nice orchard, beehives, vineyard, wooden deck with views, and a campfire all in a nicely wooded area and open area next to my house. I also noticed that around me is a thriving country wedding business. There are no hotels, motels, or anything within ten miles of the venues. After searching online I have noticed that some of the surrounding neighbors have put tiny houses, their campers, or even finished out barns on Airbnb.com or VRBO. They are renting out for $109-$269 a night and they are actually getting bookings well in advance. So, since I have always wanted an AirStream camper, I have been working on a plan to get one, fix it up real nice, and rent it out on the weekends when I won’t be using it. I can park in next to my campfire and advertise the use of the whole area I just made beautiful. You would have access to the Airstream, the pond for fishing, campfire, deck, hammock, and smores would be provided. Your views would be of the pond, vineyard, orchard, bees, and nature in general. I watched about 20 Canadian Geese land in my pond today on their way South for the winter. I think I can get $100-$200 a night from this experience and book 8-10 nights a month. On the low end I would walk away with $600 a month in profit and on the high end, I could make double that. Making $7,200- $14,400 a year owning an Airstream that I always wanted since I was a kid isn’t a bad way to make a little money and have some fun living a dream of mine. But this is the dreamer in me and I don’t think I can do this just yet. I need to finish the other projects first. But, you have to have dreams and think big or you get bored. Maybe next year or the next, either way, I’m looking into it a lot more lately.
So, in the future, I could live off the land if I play my cards right. I could sell hay, have chickens with eggs, goats and their milk for cheeses, actually farm crops, or get some cows. But, really the goal is to just make enough off the land to pay for the taxes and to make sure I’m not having to work any more than 2-3 hours a week, I still am a teacher and have three kids that demand my time. I think the Airbnb idea fits the not having to work bill pretty well. If I go full out with my plans I could be making about $10,000-$16,000 a year just with my country hobbies, and that covers my taxes and property costs for sure since we are ag exempt and only pay on our home.
That’s the update to my property hobbies/ side hustles. I hope to publish about them as I finish up on each little piece and we can see how this idea goes. Worst case is that I get a beautiful yard and the Airstream is a bust, so I sell the Airstream and get my money back and start over with a new idea. It’s really win-win for me and my family. Country living I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.