Let’s Make a Deal…

Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson December 1, 2014 14:23 Updated


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Harvest is nearly over for this year, and many of you are thinking about how to effectively position yourself in financial terms so you can perpetuate your farming operation.  Many questions are asked and many facts are considered so that you ultimately reach the goal of having money.  Can’t get anywhere without it, right?  But there was a time when business was handled differently.  The history of bartering can be traced back to 6000 B.C., and bartering has been one of the main means for operating United States agriculture, especially during the Great Depression of the 30’s when there was a scarcity of money.  But not even the invention of currency could stop this personal exchange of goods and services.  The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that barter accounts for between 25% – 30% of all transactions worldwide.


I’d like to summarize a story that comes from the book authored by Charles Morrow Wilson titled Let’s Try Barter, and encourage everyone to read it at length.  This account describes  the bartering abilities of a young widow with five children.  She needed to survive and provide for her family with her land and farming operations.  Take a look at some of the things she accomplished:

  1. Taxes were due, so the Barter Lady and the county judge agreed to cut locust trees from her property so they could be used to build roadside guard rails.  Proceeds paid for hauling and wages, netting enough to pay taxes for three years.
  2. The unused limbs of the locust trees made superior firewood and so she traded it for groceries, bakery products, and bus travel to and from school for her two older children. 
  3. She began saving corncobs as they were the best fuels for broiling fires, and exchanged these corncobs for a dozen haircuts for her sons.
  4. She paid for beauty-parlor services with home-raised frying chickens, and received gasoline, oil and mechanic services in exchange for setting eggs and newly hatched chicks.
  5. As an accomplished pianist, she received a vacation in the big city in exchange for playing at a farm women’s club convention held there.
  6. She swapped home-raised roasting chickens with a coastal steamship line  for a family cruise vacation.
  7. Dental services were paid for with fresh fruit, berries, native fowl, and farm-fresh eggs, and a surgeon’s bill was taken care of with an enticing fishing vacation which included home-cooked meals live minnows, crayfish, night crawlers, worms, grasshoppers and moral encouragement!

The list went on, and through the years this woman used barter to raise her family and keep her farm running.  When I consider all of the valuable products and professional work that were traded for what her land and agricultural operations provided, putting dollar amounts on crops and livestock doesn’t seem to do these things justice.  Do any of you use bartering today?  If so, how effective do you think it is?

-Terry Olson, Titan Outlet Store Team






Teresa Olson
By Teresa Olson December 1, 2014 14:23 Updated
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