This installment of an ongoing barter agreements feature includes contributions from an Arkansas man who exchanged Christmas clothing with his colleagues at work and a bed-ridden Tennessee woman who gave her nurses knitting lessons in trade for yarn and books.
A Colorado college student earned a little income putting up and taking down "For Sale" signs for a real estate agency.
Every Christmas I seem to get clothes that just don't fit or that aren't my style. I never know what stores they came from and usually don't want to bother with exchanging them anyway.
Then one day I discovered that some of the other guys at work had the same problem. As a result, we got together in the parking lot on our lunch break and swapped all our unwanted wearing apparel!
My successful barter evolved from a serious illness which kept me bedridden for three months. About all I could do with my time was crochet and read, and you can imagine what it would have cost to keep me in books and yarn!
However, the problem was solved when several of the nurses became interested in my handiwork... and especially in learning how to duplicate it. We soon worked out a swap: lessons in knitting and crocheting in exchange for books and yarn.
By the end of eight weeks, eight nurses had mastered crocheting (three of those also learned to knit) and I had 40 books, as well as enough yarn for five full-size afghans, two crib blankets, and a crocheted bedspread. Not only were the participants in this swap pleased, but so were the recipients of the gifts I made.
After reading my first issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, I was inspired to make a swap of my own. My neighbor had pastureland that needed clearing and fencing, and I was in the market for lumber. I offered to clear the land and build the fence in exchange for all the leftover lumber.
Now my friend has a fenced pasture, and I have a new home (built with the help of an article on log cabin construction), plus a large woodpile in my backyard.
I'm a self-supporting college student, and in the past I was always in need of part-time work, which was usually limited to the minimum wage and to late-night hours. I had thought about starting a bootstrap business like those I'd read about in MOTHER EARTH NEWS, but I didn't know what my enterprise should be, until the following incident occurred.
Two years ago, a friend who is a real estate agent with a local company complained about ripping his suit jacket while attempting to put up a for sale sign at one of his listings. When I heard this, the gears began to turn in my head, and one week later I presented my business idea to the real estate agency's office manager. I would store all the agency's for sale signs in my garage and do the dirty work of putting them up and taking them down as the agents requested. I already had a mini-pickup, and I could also use a small station wagon to transport the signs. The office manager was delighted with my plan, and we agreed upon a payment of $2.00 each time I either put a sign up or took one down.
My business has continued to build steadily over the past two years, and I've averaged $300 per month for about 1 1/2 hours of work a day, five days a week. In addition to putting up signs, I've begun repairing, cleaning, and painting homes listed by the agency. The work fits right into my time schedule, and best of all, I'm my own boss. I'd encourage other readers to start a sign-transporting business where they live!
When my husband was jobless last year, we increased our efforts to cut back on basic expenses. One day, while shopping at the local farmers' market, I noticed that the two young children of the woman I buy eggs and milk from were bored and cranky. I asked the busy mother if she could use a baby-sitter.
Every Saturday since then, I have come home from the market with all the eggs, milk, butter, cream, chicken, and lamb we can use, and with two little girls who spend the day playing with my son while their mother sells the family produce in peace!
One day during my sophomore year in high school, my brother brought home an old, green, wooden duck punt he had received as payment for repairing an elderly couple's car. (A punt is a lightweight, shallow-water, flat-bottom boat with a square stern.) He wasted no time trying it out on the local stock ponds and soon cleaned out the bluegill holes.
That fall I needed a boat to run my trapline on Cadron Creek, so I traded my old .22 rifle to my brother for the punt.
Not long after that, one of our buddies decided he was missing out on the fun, so he gave me $10 and five rabbit traps for the craft.
I then made enough money selling wild rabbits (and from various odd jobs) to purchase a secondhand motorcycle and to buy back the punt for $17 later that year.
Another friend who was looking for excitement that summer had heard the legend of the duck punt. He gave me $25 and three prizewinning Red Satin domestic rabbits in exchange for the vessel. I, in turn, bought feed and built cages with the cash and soon had lots of bunnies, which I sold for $5 to $7 each.
Unfortunately, the old boat met its end that summer on Crashing Rock in the swift waters of the Cadron, but none of us will ever forget the extra income, valuable experience, and fun that the punt provided.B.B.
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