Successful Swaps and Barter Agreements

Readers describe their city-country exchanges, food trading arrangements, and other barter agreements.

| March/April 1980

Bill Wodraska shared some of his thoughts regarding one of mankind's better ideas — barter — and offered up an interesting suggestion: "I'd like to see a continuing feature on barter agreements and skill-and-labor exchanges," said Bill. "You're on!" MOTHER EARTH NEWS replied.

Firewood Trades

I've learned plenty about swappin' since moving to the Ozarks a year ago. For one thing, a person can meet lots of interesting folks when he or she barters . . . and there's just no beating that good feeling that comes from doing a little neighborly tradin'.

For instance, since the piece of hillside I now call "home" includes a number of densely wooded acres, lots of time gets spent with chain saw and Stickler, clearing the land and splitting the trees into firewood . . . and that oak timber is ideal for tradin'! So when I needed aerial photographs in order to design the plans for a proposed road, I paid a visit to the manager of the local photo shop (who was rumored to be an avid amateur pilot as well). A little dickering, and — before I knew it — we were cruising at 1,000 feet with shutters snapping! Several days later, while I studied the up-to-date lofty shots, the moonlighting aviator was basking in front of a crackling fire.

Before long I'll be burning some of that sliced oak myself: Because, no sooner had I spotted an ad for a used Franklin stove than I found myself swappin' again. The owner of the old woodburner had purchased a more recent, airtight model . . . and he was more than willing to exchange his black-bellied cooker for a cord or two of wood.

Now . . . if I can just find someone with some insulated stovepipe that he or she'd like to trade . . . .

City-Country Trades

Trying to employ MOTHER EARTH NEWS-type principles, particularly the age-old practice of swapping, while living in the city can be downright difficult at times. Consequently, when two good friends of mine moved to the country, I enviously bid the new homesteaders goodbye . . . not realizing that their switch to greener parts would bring a little of "the good life" back to my urban confines.

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