Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Arts of Bartering and Sacrifice

Wait, what's that say? Bartering and Sacrifice as Arts?! Yes, that's right! They are both an art form.

Don't believe me? Well, allow me to give you a few examples, and then you tell me.

I'm become the Queen Barterer on the Farm around here, and I've learn to Sacrifice things/animals I love - with very few tears shed and no kicking and screaming - to obtain items that I can either flip for a profit or use to better our farm income.

It started in February of 2008, when I made the first personal sacrifice - because I once again really wanted chickens, but there was just no way we had the extra money for me to order 25 chicks. Our finances had taken a drastic turn down hill, and well, the money just wasn't there.

My most prized possession at that time was a semi-pro digital camera - that cost us a small mint. I made the decision to sell that camera. It was the first and hardest sacrifice - but the result was a small flock of Buff Orpingtons and Speckled Sussex! YAY!

Sacrifice gets easier, especially once you realize that giving something up to obtain something else doesn't mean the end of the world. Because it doesn't. All of these modern convienence dependent people would be quite surprised at what they could live without if they really had to.

One huge sacrifice we made as a family was moving onto our 7+ acres, knowing there wasn't a well and that we'd have to live indefinitely (didn't think it would be this long, though) without plumbed water or accessible water on the farm. Easy? Nope. Worth it? Yep - because that sacrifice resulted in a completely paid for home and land - NO house payment, no land payment- how many people can boast of that? This was our BIG sacrifice.

The greatest part is the look people give us when they realize we've been living here since 2004 - and surviving I might add - without plumbed water. It's a great conversation starter!

Sacrifice makes us stronger, and really teaches us what we can truly live without - and not suffer for it.

Bartering kind of goes hand in hand with Sacrifice, because you're giving up something you already own to hopefully gain something of equal or more value (never barter down if you can help it!). I've bartered for a lot of different things over the last few years, so I'm not exactly sure what my first barter would be.

I bartered three Silkie Bantams for my first trio of Rabbits. Those rabbits had babies, which I sold for a profit. I later sold those original 3 rabbits as well.

I bartered five hens and one rooster for 4 rabbits with a long 4 hole rabbit hutch. Those rabbits then had babies - which I sold - and I sold 3 of the 4 rabbits all for a profit. The same people who I obtained the rabbits from delivered me a wonderfully homemade dog box FREE. Course, I in turn then sent people their way to buy dog boxes - so it was a win win.

Later, I traded 3 Rhode Island Red chicks to someone else for another rabbit hutch that just needed refurbished - the lady was willing to give it to me for free, but I wanted to give her something in return - and her chicken coop was just sitting empty. She loved those chicks, too! I think it's always good to do something nice or give something - even if it's a small something - to someone you are bartering with, because it makes friends and they'll be more likely to barter with you later.

I traded 4 bantam hens for an Alpaca. That was THE BEST barter EVER! Sadly, my Alpaca passed away this year, but it was wonderful to have the opportunity to have him.

I traded 27 fertile chicken hatching eggs for a Royal Palm Turkey Hen and a Narrangassett Turkey Hen. Later, we had poults hatch from their eggs and we sold all of the poults - around 20 total - for roughly $6 -$8 each.

I traded that Narrangassett turkey hen + $175 for the following: 3 outdoor poultry pens that we disassembled and rebuilt into one big pen on my farm, a mini pony (who we sold for $100), a pair of Mandarins (that I sold for $75), two pairs of call ducks (that I sold for $50), and 5 Muscovey Ducks (I sold a pair to my mom for $20, kept a pair for myself, and the extra drake we found dead in our yard).

My most recent barter: I drove 2 hours North to pick up a pair of Embden Geese and a Bourbon Red Tom Turkey. I left with the geese and turkey, AND a beautiful muscovey duck to add to my pair. Making a beautiful trio! In return, I'm setting and hatching a few dozen Cuckoo Maran chicks for the guy I got my birds from.

We also, this year, traded 2 tires that we wanted OUT of our yard to a guy who needed them in exchange for 4 rex rabbits.

Then, there's always flipping things. Craigslist is a GREAT resource for finding things to flip/barter!

Last summer, we found 5 free pygmy goats on Craigslist. My husband and I picked them up. Turns out, it was one buck, 2 wethers, and 2 does. The does were most likely bred, but they didn't know about when they'd be due.

We hauled those stinky, nasty goats home. Ok, only the Billy Buck was stinky and nasty - and we made a quick deal with my friend who wanted a male pygmy for breeding - she got a goat, I got a Shih Tzu puppy. (That same puppy later became a Christmas present for someone else! so it all worked out!)

The other four goats we hauled off to the auction. The wethers brought $48 and the does brought $50. Cool, right?!

This year, we had a trailer that you pull behind a car - it was for my Jeep. Well, the Jeep is no longer with us (R.I.P.), so I had no use for the trailer. My friend who raises the Shih Tzus wanted it, so once again we traded for a puppy. I sold this puppy for $150 whoot!

That $150 is going to pay for my purchase of a 2 year old breeding Quad of Sebastobol Geese on Monday!

So, yes, there are things I end up out right buying, but you have to do the math - when you figure that day old Sebbie goslings sell for $50 or more, depending on breed quality and sometimes color - and eggs sell for $10+ each or more, and here's this Quad for $150 - which divides out to $37.50 per adult - it's a great deal! And, if we're smart and careful, that is money that can be made back out of selling eggs/offspring fairly quickly. It also helps that I've dealt with this breeder in the past, and that this breeder has worked closely with shows - especially call duck shows - so I have a good idea of what I am getting. I did get to see this Gaggle in person last fall when I purchased my SQ Pen of Call ducks and Black Langshan chickens.

hmmm...can ya tell I'm excited about these Sebbies?!

But, I digress....

The point is, there are easy and honest ways to obtain the things one needs for earning income on a farm. It's not hard, does take some leg work and people skills, because you have to talk to the people you plan to barter/trade/sell to.

I'm looking forward to getting this year underway. I'm super excited, and am quite confident that 2010 is the year that Evening Star Farms is going to take off and be great!


  1. Aly, you truly are the Barter Queen!
    Wear your crown proudly and try not to get any chicken poop on it ;)

  2. Your life will never be boring with a "can do" attitude like you have! We have a work hard and be creative attitude at our house. Don't know why, but neither my husband's or my kids "get it" and they're not too nice about it either (well, entitlement indoctrination from their other parents is part of the problem). Heaven forbid they should have to problem solve.

    If it's not too personal, how do/did your kids deal with the water situation (my kids complain that I ask them to air dry the laundry!) and all your other adventures?

    YardFarmer Julie

  3. Looking forward to hearing about your geese.

  4. My children are all smaller, and well, they really don't know any different than the way we live. We moved into this home when our oldest was 2 and our second child was 6 months, and even at ground zero next to our FIL we were not connected to the plumbing. We moved the trailer here to our own little piece of heaven when our third child was 10 months old.

    So really, they were too young when we moved here to know what they were missing. Our good news is, it's looking like 2010 is the year we'll possibly be getting our well, so hopefully they won't be living without water plumbed in too much longer.

    As for the other adventures, the kids get just as excited as I do when a new critter arrives on our farm. They love farming, and each one of them talks about growing up and having a ranch or a farm of their own. Except my DD, I think she wants to be a vet (or as she calls it, an animal doctor!).