Egg Money: The Original Farmer’s Wife Side Hustle

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During the Great Depression, many families were struggling to make ends meet. Selling excess eggs laid by the family’s flock helped provide a much-needed immediate cash flow. 

Years ago, I was introduced to the concept of Egg Money in a book of quilt patterns. The quilt patterns featured in the book were depression era quilt blocks pieced in beautiful reproduction fabrics.

In the description of Egg Money Quilts the author writes:

“Before the 1940’s, most eggs were produced on rural farms with small flocks that scratched their way around the barnyard. The farmer’s wife was usually responsible for caring for her chickens, and the money received from selling the eggs was hers.” 

The history of farm women taking care of chickens and selling eggs during the great depression fascinated me. The thought process seemed to be that it wasn’t a profitable enough farm endeavor to pursue in earnest, because the money generated by selling eggs wasn’t paid in one large lump sum. 

Mrs. Shoenfeldt, wife of FSA (Farm Security Administration) client, Sheridan County, Kansas. Chickens are an important part of live at home program for this family. 1939 Library of Congress

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The slow trickle of cash into the household often meant families could purchase food and necessities that they may have otherwise had to go without during the Great Depression.   

“Egg money didn’t just pay for special treats like class rings or music lessons. It also kept the family fed, clothed, and educated. Income from the farm might pay to keep the farm running for another year, but egg money kept the family from starving. “

Tove Danovich 

During the Great Depression, many families were struggling to make ends meet. Selling excess eggs laid by the family’s flock helped provide a much-needed immediate cash flow.  

Mrs. Ernest W. Kirk Jr., feeding her chickens on farm near Ordway, Colorado 1939. Library Of Congress

Selling eggs has remained a popular way to generate extra income from a homestead or small farm. 

If you’re looking to supplement your regular income, adding another revenue source, such as selling eggs can help make ends meet or even give you a little extra spending money for small indulgences. 

Mrs. Free with her chickens. She is wife of FSA (Farm Security Administration) rehabilitation borrower. Dead Ox Flat, Malheur County, Oregon 1939 Library of Congress

Whether you need the extra money or not, getting yourself a side hustle can be personally and financially beneficial. This supplemental endeavor can become an excellent outlet for the passions and talents that may otherwise not be cultivated.

I personally have raised chickens for several years before I even considered selling eggs, simply because I enjoy chicken-keeping. I held off on selling eggs because I wasn’t sure about the rules and regulations for selling local farm raised eggs in Upstate New York.

Wife of tenant farmer living near Muskogee, Oklahoma, feeding the chickens. 1939 Library of Congress

Earning your own egg money with a chicken business can be a great way to generate extra income. There is a demand for fresh, locally produced eggs. Once you create a customer base, you could potentially make quite a bit of money. 

Even if you only have a few chickens, you could still make money selling eggs. Just do some research and number-crunching to ensure your revenue outweighs your costs.

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