Farm Labor, Natural Foods, Mushroom Hunting, and Other Successful Barter Agreements

In this installment of a regular feature, readers reported successfully bartering their farm labor for food and shelter, natural foods for marketing and legal services, and mushroom hunting services for leftovers from a chef's kitchen.

| July/August 1981

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.  

Farm Labor for Food and Shelter

My husband and I started our married life—just as we'd planned to for six years—with a move to the country. And barter has played a major role in our new lifestyle by providing us with food and shelter.

Our trading began when a little determination (and a little luck) landed us a part-time milking job on a fairly large dairy farm. In exchange for one week's work a month (on days of our choosing), we live rent-free in a fine two-bedroom farmhouse, have the use of a wood burning stove and free-for-the-gathering fuel, and have access to a five-acre pasture to graze our animals in!

The vegetables from our garden and fresh-from-the-cow milk for making butter and cheese keep our larder full at little cost. In addition, one of the best salmon and trout rivers in the Northwest borders our new home (I've caught fish that produced steaks the size of a dinner plate!).

Furthermore, as part of the milking deal, our farmer friend gives us a discount when we purchase day-old calves. We're slowly building up a dairy herd (for the time when we can afford our own farm) at very little expense.

The swap is good for the dairyman, too, since he gets a fourth of his farm work done "free."

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