Bartering With Labor, Custom-Made Jewelry and More Successful Swaps

Read about bartering and skill-and-labor exchanges from people around the continent.

| November/December 1983

Successful Swaps

Successful swaps are not only done through means of money, but through trading skills and labors to benefit everyone.


In the January/February 1976 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, reader Bill Wodraska shared some of his thoughts regarding one of humankind's better ideas — barter — and made an interesting suggestion: "I'd like to see a continuing feature on barter and skill-and-labor exchanges," said Bill. "Maybe MOTHER EARTH NEWS could even swap subscriptions for contributions to the department." 

"You're on!" we replied. The following are stories of trades and barters we received from MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers. 

I really wanted to do something special for my wife Kim last Christmas. You see, for the preceding five years we'd lived first in a small trailer, and then in a 16' X 16' camp, as we worked toward building our own large stack wall home. So I had my heart set on giving her something that would — in effect — let her know that we'd soon have more space and comfort.

When I was young, my family moved to a small house, and had to give up a massive maple table of 1800 vintage that had five pillar legs and enough extra leaves to comfortably seat a dozen people. I knew who owned the table, but I couldn't afford to buy it.

First, I offered to buck, split, and pile several cords of wood in exchange for the piece of heirloom furniture, but the owner turned me down . . . since she could handle those particular chores herself. However, she did have a wide range of odd jobs that needed doing, so we agreed to swap my completion of those tasks for the table.

My brother and cousin helped me, and in one day we renailed and tarred the roof, reinforced and waterproofed a leaking back porch, cleaned the stovepipes and chimney, recaulked the chimney flashing, checked and adjusted attic insulation, and rebuilt and hung an exterior door.

Kim was surprised and delighted with the family table our bartering had provided, and she plans to keep it always open to company . . . once the stackwall has room for it!

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