Several years ago we had a pretty good egg business going; we sold between ten and twenty dozen per week. In addition I maintained a lengthy waiting list. It seemed there was a healthy market for farm-fresh free-range eggs.
This was confirmed when I received a call from a gentleman who wished to place a standing order for himself, his family and all his relatives: he wanted 30-40 dozen per week. I had to turn him down but I realized that these eggs have real value to most of the world who do not have reasonably-priced, easy access to them.
So we got $2 per dozen eggs, and I have seen similar ones sold elsewhere for $4 and up. This was fine. But do you know what is REALLY satisfying?? Trading our eggs for special products that someone else has!
What will a dozen eggs buy?
By far my favorite trade, which unfortunately is even more seasonal than my eggs are, is raw milk. We would hand over two dozen eggs in exchange for a gallon of freshly acquired, steaming in the February air, cow’s milk. Now this isn’t that silly 4% milkfat whole milk from the supermarket that comes from Holsteins. No way! We’re talking 17% milkfat out of a hand-fed, doe-eyed Jersey Cow named Ruby. Just add Hershey’s chocolate syrup and stir for the most delicious milkshake ever! So here my eggs bought me milk, cream and butter.
Another time we gave a woman a dozen eggs and unlimited access to a neglected quince tree on our property. She returned the following week with a dozen jars of apple jelly for us. We call this a combo trade.
This past summer a dozen eggs got me a bag brimming with three different varieties of home-grown tomatoes. We were essentially trading our excesses!
A family friend regularly returns the favor of free eggs with samplings of her canning prowess. This past month alone we have received jars of salsa, red raspberry jelly, peach jelly, pickled jalapenos, and pear and ginger jelly.
Peaches, our orange-striped cat, was gotten by way of a trade when she was a kitten. (Okay, they tried to give her to us free, but I insisted they take a dozen eggs).
On a related topic, another of our cats, Yahtzee, arrived in exchange for an excess rooster that was headed for the pot anyway.
This sort of trading, reminiscent of the days of yore, is extremely gratifying. It gives such a feeling of self-sufficiency. Now if I could only find a way to pay off the electric bill with my eggs…
(Postscript: we have since ceased all of our egg sales. Our entire flock of 45 beautiful hens was wiped out a year ago by a fisher who chewed through the side of the coop one night to gain entry. We currently have a much smaller flock that supplies only ourselves and our “trades”.)