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