Ideas Spark New Income Sources

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By Gary Cutrer
September 2010

Sometimes an idea is as good as gold. At least, if the idea is feasible, there is always the potential to make a little gold. That’s why new ideas and new ways of doing things continue to hold our interest. New income streams make it possible for us to keep our ranch and farm operations or even our small acreage homesteads profitable and give us the means to preserve and improve the land, its wildlife and natural features. In other words, a healthy income from the land supports good land stewardship.

It amazes me that remote places and ranching pasttimes that I take for granted could be so attractive to some folks that they would pay a lot of money to view the same vistas or take part in the same endeavors. But, people will pay for a ticket to the wilderness, so to speak. Thus was born nature tourism. Sometimes it works for the entrepreneur, sometimes it doesn’t.

Successful nature tourism enterprises include Dan and Cathy Brown’s Hummer House hummingbird sanctuary and observatory near Christoval, Texas, where for a small fee visitors can view rare hummingbirds as they flit from flower to flower.
Another is the Meador family’s Xbar Ranch, 15 miles south of Eldorado, Texas, where visitors can stay in a rock “Roundhouse” and experience a working ranch while enjoying the natural world.

Hand in hand with nature tourism is the desire of some urban dwellers to live the cowboy or country life. Dude ranches like those in the Bandera area or the Prude Ranch near Fort Davis allow would-be cowboys to rise early, saddle up and ride horseback to their heart’s content.

One “new” idea that’s been around a few years is stocking your ranch with exotic hoofstock and inviting hunting enthusiasts to pay to hunt them. We take a brief look at the exotics industry in an article in this issue. Because exotics species like gemsbok, sika deer and blackbuck antelope are now economically important to U.S. landowners, their future survival is ensured regardless of how endangered their existence becomes in their habitat of origin.

Following are the puddles left from a recent brainstorm. The ideas are provided free with no warranty or guarantee of success. You agree to hold me free of liability if you choose to use one of my ideas and have problems. Here they are:

I hope one or two of these ideas will help you spark an idea of your own, a successful one. And remember, in the words of one of my dear departed grandparents, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”  

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