"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Monday, April 2, 2012

Trade Network 2012 (Craigslist Chronicles)

Every year I have to start from scratch on the trade network, it seems. People move away, Like Veggie/Oil Man and the Kale Fairy did, or people stop producing anything I want, or people drop off the face of the earth, like the Baker Biker did - alas; I remember his marshmallows well!

So every year about this time, as the hens really start to crank out eggs, I have to place new Craigslist ads. I explain that we are all so stuffed full of eggs we can't walk, that I fear for my husband's cholesterol level, and we desperately need to offload some eggs. I talk about my happy hens, who are totally free-range on my five acres of pasture and I post pictures illustrating the difference between store-bought eggs and fresh farm eggs.

Farm egg on the left: bright orange, upright yolk and firm yellowish white. Store egg on the left: Pale, flabby yolk and thin, liquidy whites.

Not only do farm eggs taste better, I inform, but they have a healthier lipid profile and are crammed full of healthy Omega-6 fatty acids. I have not yet resorted to posting photos of industrial egg-producers with their battery cages and abused chickens. As my mom used to say, you catch more flies with honey.

In years past, I appealed specifically to gardeners by posting in the farm and garden section and using titles like "Eggs for Veggies!" This eventually works, but not usually until mid-May, when people have at least a little spinach to offer. This year I decided to post in the barter section and to leave it open as to what I was looking for. The title was simply "Eggs for....?"

In the body of the ad, I did list some things I wanted, like vegetable seeds or starts, baked goods, canning jars, etc. but also that I was open to hearing about anything people were interested in trading. After a couple of days, I got some intriguing replies. The first person to reply asked if I was interested in copies of The Rosetta Stone software (not really). Another fellow wrote saying he was a licensed massage therapist and could offer me a massage in the privacy of my own home on his folding table. Of course, this being Craigslist, alarm bells went off, but I decided to reply anyway. I said I'm not sure my husband would let me get a massage, but perhaps if he gave me the name and number of his office so I could verify...?

After verification, and asking permission from Homero (who said "as long as I can get a massage from a female therapist without you getting all weird"), I decided to go for it. When I spoke to the gentleman on the phone and gave him my name and address, he said "wait a minute! Are you the same Aimee I worked for a few years ago doing yard work in exchange for ham?"

Yes, indeed. Two years ago I was so broke and yet desperate for help that I posted an ad asking if anyone was willing to do some yard work in exchange for something I did have a lot of, which was grass-fed beef and homegrown pork products. "I realize this is unorthodox," I said, "but rest assured, although I don't have cash, I will HOOK YOU UP with the best quality local meat you have ever tasted. Also, I'll provide tools, transportation, and a nice lunch."

I actually got quite a few replies. This guy, who I'll call R., worked a couple of days for me cleaning out a whole buttload of blackberries and other assorted weeds in exchange for probably $150 dollars worth of beef and pork, plus a little money to cover his gas. He was a great worker, told me he lived pretty far out in the county, and was going back to school to get a medical assistant's certification, and doing whatever he could to support his large family in the meantime. I lost his number, or I most likely would have called him again a few times.

Having previous experience with R. and being fairly sure he wasn't a skeezy pervert made me much more relaxed. He came over yesterday and I enjoyed my massage very much. I told him I'd keep his entire family of nine in eggs for two weeks, which will probably end up being six dozen eggs. A steal.

Other trades in the works, though not yet finalized are a man who has a whole bunch of veggie starts and wants two dozen eggs a week; and a lady who is charging me two dozen eggs for four dozen bearded Iris bulbs, dug and ready to plant. I absolutely adore Irises.

Now I just need to keep my hens happy and well fed so they keep pumping out enough eggs to fuel my bartering schemes.


AnyEdge said...

You offered to HOOK PEOPLE UP with high quality local meat, on Craisglist, and you were surprised you got a lot of replies? I'm not!

Penelope said...

Heheh, can you hook ME up with some "local meat"?

Aimee said...

My siblings have such dirty minds.

Stevie said...

Great trades! I usually give eggs away at work in the hopes that the next time I want to switch shifts or take a day off, one of egg getters will step up. Not always successful. I may be better off trying for the massage thing...Stevie@ruffledfeathersandspilledmilk.com

Anonymous said...

I like the pictures of the eggs. We lived the rural life awhile back, then moved into the city for the kids to attend high school. Anyway, the first time we bought eggs I cracked open one and thought it was defective. I opened another and it was the same pasty washed out, runny color. I called the wife in to look at them. We cracked open more eggs and THEY WERE ALL LIKE THAT! Since then we have bought a cabin in the woods that we go to most every weekend. So we can buy real eggs from country folk. (sigh) Another six years and we can move back to the real America.

Ien in the Kootenays said...

Oh goodness, I LOVE this! Barter is one of my passions. Too bad you don't live closer, apart from being in Mexico now. We could trade beef for reflexology.