Monday, April 2, 2012
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.