The Art of Bartering

Distant Drums rose garden from last summer

Bartering is not a new concept but one that seems to be catching on in popularity recently.

Here on the farm it’s something I do on a regular basis and am always looking for new people to barter with. While we have had a few bad experiences I find that most are honest and are looking to be fair. You learn very quickly when someone is not good to barter with, word of mouth travels fast, both good and bad in the bartering circles.

It’s a good idea to start a list of items and services you could barter. Then set a reasonable but general market price for that item or service. This is not to say that you have to get exactly what you want for your item and it’s okay sometimes to come out on the low end of the trade. Especially if what the other person has is something you really want or need.

Be sure you both agree on what will be traded, amounts, when and where before you make your final agreement. I know one gentleman I trade sewing for always writes the trade down into a note book before hand and will look back at it when the trade is done and check the trade-off when we both are happy. I often hem work pants for him, last time he had several dozen eggs he wanted to trade and it was good for us because as you all might remember the farm is chicken-less at the moment. I hemmed 2 pair of pants for 8 dozen eggs. So how did that work out? Well, I know the local seamstress gets $7. per pair of pants for hemming and I also know farm eggs are $2. per dozen, a pretty even trade. He also wants me to do the running around to pick up his pants and drop them back off to him. I made the agreement that I will do it but only when I’m on his side of town and I will not be making a special trip to drop off his pants.

You could put up a sign in the local grocery or feed stores of you services and make it clear it’s for trade in services or goods. There are sections in the local paper and on the internet but I have never tried them so can’t comment on them. I stick with local people who I know. I think once you find one person to barter with you contacts will grow fairly quickly through word of mouth.

My favorite rose, Distant Drums...I could never have too many of them

And one of my favorite trade just because I like the old fella…He loves to trade dried soldier beans for my baked apple pies. Every time I see him no matter where he always asks me “Hows yur’ beans?” and I always tell him, very low I’ll be over with a pie for some more. I’ll tell you the secret, we don’t like his beans! Oh’ they are local, organic grown but the variety we find to be very gritty. I cook them up and add them to the dog food or feed to the chickens, trade them off or simply give them away. I just love that fella! Last fall we traded several frozen pies for a few bags of dried shavings he had kicking around. I left a pie plate and baking dirctions with him so he could bake them when he wanted to. I freeze mine in the pie plate then remove them from the plate and wrap them well.

Bartering can be a valuable and usefull skill on the homestead. Now to find some seed potoatoes and 55 gallon plastic drums to trade for some of the spring soap I have.

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Posted on March 27, 2010, in Bartering, Homesteading. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi Karyn, I just came across your blog ..very nice! I enjoy bartering, too. Our neighbouring town offers a ‘food swap’ once a month for organically homegrown vegetables and fruit which is lots of fun. Sometimes it is easy to get carried away in the excitement of it all though. Funny story about the man with the beans! Christine, seedling@DTE

  2. Maggie Mae Farm

    I love the barter system too. Every Saturday morning I bring eggs to the local bakery and get a pastry or bread or some other treat!

    The nice thing is that value is determined not by the arbitrary dollar, but by need. Wish there were more people looking to make fair trades out there!!

  3. I love your pic at the top absolutely beautiful flowers,have been enjoying your blog

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