I have been reading the transcription of Levi Savage’s diary and am amazed at the amount of bartering that goes on. In hindsight I shouldn’t be surprised because it was on the frontier. I was also surprised at the amount of odd jobs that he did. In the census he gives his occupation at various times as laborer, gardener, dairyman. He really was a jack of all trades. At this point he was in his mid 50s.
Examples of bartering from January 1877:
Jan 4: “Ford let me have some cloth for my wool”
Jan 11 “Ford finishing paying me for my wool” [perhaps in cash or other goods?]
Jan 17: “I soled 860 feet of lumber to Burton Kimble for $5.00 per hundred..”
Jan 19: “I hawled the remainder…Kimble paid me $25 and gave me a note..for the remaining $18. I also got of C. Stapley an order of Foresythe for $6.37 for ditch work”
Jan 22: “Wife got 8 lbs Butter of Bryron Boundy. Pay fruit and bread for it.”
He also spent a lot of time tracking down people who owed him money/goods and was not all that successful in receiving payment.
Examples of work he writes about in January 1877:Jan 3: drove cows to be butchered
Jan 4: sold wool that his household produces
Jan 16, 23, 31 : got a load of wood
Jan 22, 26, 27: mended shoes
Jan 25: “worked about home”
In January he also mentions attending several church meetings, at least one town meeting and a few socials.
Pick a month or year in your ancestor’s life and think about what their daily life was like. You may not be lucky enough to have a diary, but you can look at the diaries of people who were in similar circumstances and make a guess.