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We Admit It: We Barter...  RSS feed

 
Travis Johnson
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Actually a lot!

Our cattle dealer has a family tend to his animals when he is gone to auctions, they are poor and they need firewood. I have more land in forest then field so I cut wood. I need more sheep then I need trees, so I cut him 5 cord of firewood in trade for sheep, which he trades to them for hours worked at his farm. I get sheep, they get firewood and the cattle dealer gets his barns cleaned when he is gone...

Last year we had a drought so we ran out of hay. Our cattle dealer had traded some of his sheep for hay off another guy, which he traded back to us for some of our cull ewes. We get hay, they guy who had too much hay gets sheep, and we get rid of our cull ewes that the cattle dealer sells (or later trades)

Another friend from church loves chickens and knew our layers were getting old, but he drives the Amish around, so he trades drive times for pullet laying hens. "How many do you want", he says? "We'll take a dozen", we say as they are ready to start laying any day, no cost of raising from chick to laying age. So we trade a dozen laying hens for a lamb because he loves lamb and its not like we cannot spare one. I lose a bit of money on the lamb as it is worth more, but I have a ready supply of pullets every year ready to lay...and the Amish get from point A to Point B by trading laying hens...

I always need more sheep granted, but we got quite a few kicking around anyway, so I say, "How about I throw in a second if you help me slaughter (3), (1) for the chickens, (1) as payback for helping me slaughter (1) for my family. (Working as a team is easier). He agrees...

Now that to me frugality. A lot got accomplished just last week alone with these 4 barters, yet people were all satisfied, farms are moving forward, and people are eating with not a dollar shifted between us. That is frugality!
 
James Freyr
Posts: 292
Location: Middle Tennessee
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I love it! I want to incorporate more bartering into my life some day, not that I do any now. Sometimes I am amazed and the goods and services I receive for the green pieces of paper I trade for, and that's what they want, but I would much rather trade goods & services for goods & services.
 
Linda Secker
Posts: 87
Location: Lancaster, UK
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love bartering too... in our area there are a couple of facebook pages specifically set up for bartering - for 'stuff' and also for time trades. They are not particularly active, but it's early days. I swapped a bag full of Kale for a half dozen fresh eggs recently
 
Kate Muller
Posts: 212
Location: New Hampshire
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I have recently traded honey for sausages with another farming friend.

I am currently working on helping another friend plant a urban garden with native plants in exchange for a hand knit silk wrap and fingerless gloves. 

This weekend I will be trading some beef fat from half a cow for some homemade soap

I will be doing more of this as the opportunities arise. 
 
Tj Jefferson
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It is not surprising that this makes sense. Money is just a way of not having to carry around lambs or eggplant or whatever. It has turned an industry that was supposed to prevent oscillations (like the futures market) into a casino, but money didn't do that- people did. Money is pretty handy but promotes WallMartization- I only care how many eggplants I get for $5. I think the side benefit of the barter economy is that each transaction builds trust in a way that money doesn't approximate. If you trade $15 for a layer, one person's good may build trust. If both of you are trading a good, both of you can assess quality, not just quantity! You trade some awesome lamb for awesome labor or awesome laying hens and everyone is living at a higher quality point but lower quantity point. I think this is key to showing value in your system.

This, I think, is a way out of the WallMartization. I don't have very many people I trust locally (pretty new to the area) but doing some bartering is a way of figuring out who you can trust. I really think that is the shortcoming of Craigslist, there is no real feedback system. And you can see the spam and scam all over the place.

The crazy ménage a trois trade you referenced is just too Jerry Springer for me! Just kidding, but it requires a web of trust. I hope to get there...
 
Olga Booker
Posts: 80
Location: Pyrenees Mountains, South of France
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Hi Travis,

Bartering is very strong in our little valley and it seems to be the oil that makes our community run smoothly.  lt's not even like: I have this, can I exchange it for that, but more like: here, have this (with no expectations) and sooner or later something that you need comes your way.

For instance, I have far more eggs than I need, so every now and then, as we pass our neighbour's barn we drop a few boxes on his doorstep, so when the time comes, he happily does the horses and donkeys' hooves for us and saves us a few hundred euros.  He is refurbishing his barn and one morning when we saw him alone on his roof, we stopped and helped him, 2 weeks later, out of the blue, he gave us a large, very much needed, beautiful handmade laundry basket (he is a basket maker).  When my local farmer/friend needed to get 2 feisty horses an hour's drive away, she asked us to drive a horse van (borrowed) to go and get them, which we happily did.  The next time we went to her farm to buy some meat and cheese, she refused any payment and added a couple of home brewed beers as a freebie.  We have the free use of 10 hectares (24 acres) of pasture for the animals with the unspoken understanding that we maintain the land, fences and gates.  We are only a phone call away from any help either for chopping wood, storing hay before a storm, dispatching a couple of pigs or 3 dozen chickens, always done with good will and a good excuse to have a meal together (a big thing in France - the meal that is!).  The exchange might surprise you: some honey when your hives perished over the winter, caring for your animals for a few days when you need to go away or you are not well, a couple of fruit trees going spare or any number of things.  I could go on and on really.

I guess, here, it started out of frugality many generations ago because our valley is very poor.  In fact, people are so poor that no one noticed the 2008 financial crash, it didn't make that much difference. For me though, bartering is more than frugality but a very practical acknowledgement of the last 2 principles of Permaculture: People care and Sharing the surplus, be it produce, skills or time. At least, that's the way I feel.  I am so glad that it is working for you and your community, I, for one, hope that it grows and spreads.

 
Travis Johnson
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No this is not anything new for us for sure, and like you our county is very poor, in fact it is the poorest in all of New England. I laughed when you said you did not feel the financial crash of 2008 as we did not either, in fact we are always in a recession here.

Right now the biggest issue we have in this area is with drugs, and while it is not much, Katie and I are planning on having a Rock Concert to raise money for Teen Challenge. They are a Drug Addiction Recovery group with a 86% success rate, where as this state's governmental success rate is only 3%. A few weeks ago the drug epidemic really hit home when my ex-brother in law overdosed and was killed by his addiction. I liked the guy, and while I cannot say it was a surprise, it devastated my ex-wife and her family. Today, Maine is losing about 1 person per day to overdosing on drugs, so Katie and I want to do something. We can't do much, we are not rich ourselves, but we have a farm, have a good friend who is in a Christian Rock Band and is gathering bands together for a great night. On this hill we can see some 175 miles away to Mt Washington a state away, so its a great spot for a concert.

For your area, farms like mine are mere babies, but I am a 9th generational farmer, and upon talking to my banker one day, she asked me what I thought our greatest asset was. I said it was our longevity, but after she asked me what my back up plans were, and I listed off a host of area farms that could help me out if things went wrong, she said, "You know, it is the amount of contacts that you have that is your best asset." I took that to heart and feel it is true. When I was young, I lacked integrity and only did things that benefited me, now in my old age of 43, I am making up for lost time and trying to do more of what I say I will do. It has really helped. Last Friday at a funeral I hugged my neighbor who had just lost his wife and he said, "Travis, you've been a good neighbor." It is the ultimate compliment. I don't think I have done enough, for him or my community, but I am am trying to finish strong.
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Wes Hunter
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Location: Missouri Ozarks
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I'm curious, Travis.  You seem to do things by the book, at least when it comes to (farm) legalities.  Do you account for your gains and losses from bartering when filing your taxes?  I believe you're 'supposed' to, bartering being payment-in-kind, but it seems like just one more annoying thing to have to track.
 
Maureen Atsali
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Location: Western Kenya
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Bartering is difficult to me, just because I am extremely introverted and socially awkward.  But it is a huge part of life here, where nearly everyone is cash poor.

Last December we made a deal with a neighbor to plow and make sweet potato lines in our eucalyptus stand.  It was great.  The neighbor doesn't have enough land to grow crops.  I don't have the strength and energy to plow and heap lines by hand on a half acre piece.  And I was too broke to pay for the work.  So the neighbor got to use half the space in return for doing that manual labor.  We got the trees weeded out and lines to use as well.  No money traded hands.  I fed him and his workers breakfast a couple times while they worked. Brilliant.

What I like is the more informal trading that doesn't require any deal making.  Last week my employee brought me a bag of corn from her early maize.  (Mine hasn't even tassled out.). Just a gift, no expectations.  So when I harvested my taro a few weeks later, I sent my son over to her house with a bag of tubers. 

My husband harvested termites last week.  Believe it or not, a coveted gourmet delicacy here.  We had people knocking down our door.  Some brought money.  Some brought maize.  A bag of beans.  And even some banana suckers. 

At the posha mill, it's still acceptable for housewives to trade their eggs for milling services.  The posha mill turns around and sells those eggs at a profit

We have traded in animals.  A duckling for two chicks.  A rabbit for a chicken.  I don't necessarily need more chickens, but I usually agree.  I figure we get some genetic diversity into our flocks that way.  And seeds!  I discovered the wonderful bambura groundnut because I was gifted a bag of seeds as a gesture of friendship.

I love it, and I think its great to build up community and relationships and good will.  Unfortunately it seems to be fading as more and more Western ideas and agendas gain popularity among the younger generations. I wonder what can be done to preserve it and encourage more of it?
 
Travis Johnson
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Wes Hunter wrote:I'm curious, Travis.  You seem to do things by the book, at least when it comes to (farm) legalities.  Do you account for your gains and losses from bartering when filing your taxes?  I believe you're 'supposed' to, bartering being payment-in-kind, but it seems like just one more annoying thing to have to track.


Yes I do Wes, but you are indeed right, it is a pain even with the way my Schedule F is set up in spreadsheet format.
 
Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I don't have as many physical goods to barter as I will in the future.  I do have an excess of eggs that I generally just gift friends and co-workers, but my best barters are for services.  I work in IT, and people are forever having computer issues.  I usually tell people I will fix their computer problem, but I don't accept cash, just trades.  People offer all kinds of interesting things.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I'm an electrician,plumber,baker,candlestick maker.
For years I helped my friends,family and church family, refusing payment of any kind.
Recently, I lost my contracting gig  and was looking for ways to make ends meet.
My people came out of the woodwork with things for me to do. Always feeding me and paying me more than we has agreed on, my objections met with a pointed "its for your family" or " you know I will just give it to Becka(my wife) if you won't take it"
They were overjoyed to pay me for my work,to contribute to my family's well-being.
I could have continued, but an opportunity came up I could not ignore . I of course made sure to wrap things up with them rightly,a point of honor on my part.

I know it wasn't strictly speaking bartering, but it was the kind of exchange that gives crony capitalism a good name.
Goodwill is worth a lot.  I will never forget what was done for my family ,just as my people  didn't forget what I had done for theirs.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I barter sometimes. It's often labor in exchange for goods. I have the goods, and I get some labor out of people who want it.

Probably the most important thing that is exchanged without money in my circle, is information. If I'm pouring over usedvictoria.com and I see some free bricks, I send the link to one of my regular customers who uses bricks. My brother is a free livestock guy. I know several other people who are free gardening stuff types. The same people, let me know about free stuff or good deals and sometimes about upcoming demolition jobs.

I had a brother-in-law who didn't understand this simple concept. He always wanted to put himself into the center of every minor deal, to try and make $20. He'd tell you where the free rock pile is, if you'd hire him to haul it. I stopped returning his calls. I was in a far better position to help him, than he was to help me. All he had to do was not be a dink.

Amongst people in the Demolition and Salvage business, the most important thing we exchange, are customers. If I have someone who wants trusses and I don't have any, I send them to someone who might. One fellow named Syd was the beneficiary of this until I determined that he would never reciprocate. I was talking to several others and questioned them as to whether he had ever sent anyone to them. We all agreed that he was out of the loop.

On a couple of occasions I've been asked to join official bartering groups. Unfortunately, when I check out who else is in the group, it tends to be those selling very dubious service. Mostly medical malarkey, but also services that require the belief in supernatural beings. I trade tangible goods for tangible goods or for useful labour. That other stuff is available for free on YouTube.
 
Gregg Carter
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There are a few folks around me that are willing to trade. I wish there was more, but we just keep trying.

When I owned my last business a guy asked if I were willing to trade and it shocked him when I asked what he had. We ended up trading a good bit for a little over a year. It will come back, it just takes time a patience.
 
Dale Hodgins
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My friend Sahoshi has been involved in a labor trade with his dentist for several months. Both are part of a religious group where you end up with a name like Sahoshi. It's a great deal for him because they're trading 1 hour for 1 hour. He is generally able to command about $40 per hour for his services. A dentist can easily command 3 times that. Almost makes me want to get myself a grass mat and a guru.
 
Travis Johnson
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Well having a lot of heavy equipment, I have a need for a lot of parts that break, and so I have a good after market parts store that can get me parts very reasonable. Well my wife and I are the last people you would ever think are farmers because we dress up when we go into town. Katie is attractive and gets some attention, so I am always teasing my wife that if she just worked it just a little bit, we could get a little bit off the price of stuff.

Well last week I had a starter on one of my bulldozer be rebuilt which is around $93. $65 for labor and $28 for the solenoid. They are great guys, but its not the place a lady goes...ever. This place is not Advanced Auto Parts or even NAPA, and the bathroom proves it. It is 100% testosterone for bulldozer junkies like me. But Katie always goes in with me, waits patiently as we talk bulldozer talk, look up parts, etc, none of which bothers anyone there I assure you.

So I grab my wallet and ask him how much it is going to be, and without even taking his eyes off Katie backside, who was in a pretty short miniskirt, he's like, "just take it, no charge." So I guess choosing the right clothing might lead to some nice bartering too. I always joked about it, but this was the first time I ever knew how we dressed made an impact on our farm costs.

Katie and I dressed to go to town:
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Deb Rebel
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I have bartered for many years, and during my cheesecake years you bet I used that advantage. Heh.

I did a lot of shows and fairs and you network with the other vendors, make friends, and a lot of you do the same ones... speaking a little barter, you can get fantabulous stuff sometimes. I met some that were too straightlaced and it was cash only, and not even the usual favor of 5-10% off to your fellow merchant. I can respect that, but a LITTLE speaking barter got you friends and into the 'tribe'. Those others don't know what they missed.

Here there is that barter circle too, do this and later that comes your way. A neighbor a few down, was retired and taking care of her physically disabled husband. She had a very reliable very large pickup at her disposal. I can cook a few dishes at fine restaurant/trained chef level, and I would take her some some nights, for their supper. She was old fashioned and trained to give the plate back with (cookies or something) and I said I'd rather do a road trip to buy stuff. I would pay gas and buy lunch, and she would pay me back by going for a day (50-125 miles one way) to shop with that lovely big pickup. We could load it to the gunwales and my record is hitting a Superwally with an organized shopping list keyed to how stuff was laid out, and having two artfully piled shopping carts at falling off full hit the checkout in 1 hr 10min. It took three carts to get out of the store. I could load in ten minutes and if she parked her cart I'd load hers too. That was the golden barter system I do miss that and her pickup (she moved away a few years ago) as well as her friendship.

I just traded a denim front apron with three pockets for 18 dozen eggs (paid over a few weeks) to my egg lady. It also has a button up to make one big overpocket so she can collect the eggs with it. I am still working on the design or I'd share it, but. Give out lots of tomato plants, and the hail got mine, and someone brought me a couple of grocery bags of tomatoes in thanks for the plants.

I like to think of barter as passing the good karma, on. Pay it forward?

 
Kj Koch
Posts: 22
Location: Jersey Shore PA
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I do a lot of flea marketing, craft shows and the like and am always up to trading. The best is with other vendors. They get something, you get something, and the Goodwill between the two of us almost always leads to good things.
 
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