Raking Leaves for Material and Profit

If your need bedding for livestock or mulch for your garden, raking leaves for others is one way to get the material and earn a little pocket money.

| September/October 1980

  • 065 raking leaves - full truck
    Raking leaves is a great way to earn some spending money.
  • 065 raking leaves - chicken bedding
    And if you keep the leaves, you'll have warm, clean bedding for your chickens and other livestock.

  • 065 raking leaves - full truck
  • 065 raking leaves - chicken bedding

Money does grow on trees ... or rather, it sometimes falls off of them! The fact is—if you have a few rakes and a means of transportation—you can not only help your offspring (or yourself) collect some extra spending money, but also accumulate free fertilizer and mulch for your garden, and provide bedding for your animals, as well.

Raking leaves—as my children and I discovered last fall—is an easy-to-start and rewarding enterprise. Our initial season brought in (in addition to fertilizer, mulch, bedding, and cash) a cast-iron bathtub (which we made into a horse-watering tank) ... several pounds of shelled walnuts ... and an incredible amount of good will from grateful older citizens.

Horse Leaves

How, you may wonder, did we become involved in our lawn-cleaning venture? Well—knowing that leaves contain calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—I'd made yearly resolutions, for some time, to gather people's autumn "fallout" to use as fertilizer for our organic garden. But I never seemed to get around to the task, because (as any homesteader knows) there's always an endless list of chores to cope with in the fall.

Then last year we bought a horse ... and soon learned that we couldn't use old hay for bedding because the steed would eat the material! However, one livestock book mentioned leaves as an alternative ... and since the beast was supposed to be my children's animal, it seemed only fitting that they help collect its bed-to-be. (In the back of my mind, I figured that the resulting ready supply of crushed leaves mixed with horse manure would make perfect compost for the garden and our commercial strawberry field.)

At first I thought we'd just scout for leaf piles that people had raked and bagged for the trash collector, and ask for permission to haul the heaps off. But, considering the price of gas, l decided we might as well offer to do the raking ourselves: That way, we'd earn a little money as a result of our leaf foraging instead of spending it.

I wasn't sure whether there'd be a demand for our services—and didn't want to risk any cash on advertising—so I started our enterprise by making a trip to the local state job office. That, as it turned out, was all the "business drumming" that was necessary. We got our first customer on the following day, and from then on our fame spread by word of mouth.

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