This month’s Oxbow Farm Book Club book has got me thinking.

feb book club book

The first essay in this book tells about the author’s love of bartering fence posts for various things like fresh milk and chain saw sharpening. Bartering is not new and from what I hear, in the good ol’ days a lot more people bartered their products and talents.

Noel Perrin, in his book says, “A modern farmer is usually as much into the money economy as any bank president. But amateur farmers like myself can still enjoy the pleasures of trading.”

I guess I must be a modern farmer because I am not really keen on bartering my products. I like seeing the money come in for the goods I have sold. This summer I traded goat cheese for bacon. I was happy to get the goat cheese but part of me wanted to have the money in hand in exchange for the bacon. I think it comes down to watching every penny that comes in and out. This year I can finally establish a budget based on last year’s income and expenses. I want to make sure it is as accurate as possible.

If I was to barter loads of products then I wouldn’t be able to show the income to reflect the expenses associated with that product. But then on the other hand, I may have less expenses for the product or service that I am receiving in exchange.

Perhaps it is just that I need a better accounting system to reflect these transactions? How do I do that? Is that a separate journal entry or do I keep a separate spreadsheet. I guess that is a question for the accountant.

It is funny that I don’t have the same feelings about services. I would trade knowledge or labor in exchange for another product or service. Does that mean I value my labor less than a product? I can show labor on an accounting spreadsheet so it actually has the same value.

ACK! I think I am making this too difficult.

I guess it will be a continuing debate and I will have to take each situation as it presents itself.

(Elizabeth, as you read this don’t worry, I will still trade you pig for lamb.)

whole pig processed
If you want to discuss this and any other farm/food related topics, then please join us THIS SATURDAY NIGHT for the Oxbow Farm Book Club. Specific details can be found on our book club page.

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7 Responses to Bartering

  1. Kathy says:

    Great post! I wonder what other small venture farmers do for those types of transactions?

  2. Farmer Kim says:

    I actually just received an email from a friend who owns her own small business and she is going to show me how to account for barters on her accounting software. How about that!

  3. Jesseca Timmons says:

    Can I trade you pig for manual labor by my teenager?? He is pretty good with a rototiller!!

  4. Farmer Kim says:

    hmmm, not sure. Ha ha. I do have some pork for you however. I just need to organize it and then drop it off.

  5. paula says:

    You and I barter all the time :)

  6. Farmer Kim says:

    That is true!

  7. Teresa Mceachern says:

    Bartering makes everybody feel win – win!!! Just go for it!!!

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