"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mother of All Trades (?) and Trade Network Update

I'm not sure yet whether or not this is going to work out exactly the way we think it is, but there's a possibility of the trade network's most stunning success to date - Homero is replacing an engine for some friends of my sister and her family. These folks - who we can almost count as friends ourselves rather than friends-once-removed, having been to many of the same parties - are organic farmers and have a pretty good sized spread.

Homero offered (at my instigation) to let them pay up to half the labor costs in vegetables, which would be a whole big pile of veggies. There are a few issues - we live pretty far apart, for one, and it's near the end of the season, for another - but as I told them, the whole point of barter is to make things easier, not harder. If it turns out cash is easier than trade, well, we accept that, too. But I'm hoping for veggies. I've not yet come near the limits of my canning tolerance for the year. Theoretically, this one trade could provide us with most of our winter store of vegetables.

At the same time, we've lost our oldest trade partner, Veggie/Oil Man. He has been going through some extremely rough personal and family problems, and in fact seems to have lost his farm entirely. It's a damn shame, and not just for us. V/O Man and his wife have become personal friends, and it's very hard to see them having such a tough time.

I think I also may have burned a much smaller trade partner - B., who traded me berries and greens for eggs, hasn't called me in quite a while, and I'm afraid I know why. There's a very high probability that I gave him a carton full of partially developed eggs, and if that is the case, I can't blame him for running away. There is almost nothing as unpleasant as cracking an egg to find a half-grown bird fetus inside.

There is still S. and her husband, who trade me vegetables for goat cheese every saturday at the farmer's market. But I find that their vegetables, while of superb quality, are quite highly priced. I always walk away, having handed over a pound of lovingly made cheese for, say, a bunch of chard, six carrots, and a bulb of garlic feeling just a bit like I got the thin end of the stick.

September is coming up (oops I mean already here), and if I get moving, there is plenty of time to arrange the Second Annual September Swap Meet. My friend N. at the local store asked me if I would be doing it again this year, and I said I'd like to but that I didn't feel I had the energy to clean up the property, which looks like (to quote my mother) Arkansas in 1934. She laughed and suggested we hold it on the sidewalk in front of the store.

Now THERE'S a plan! Having consulted the calendar, I'm going to suggest Saturday the 24th, and start drawing up a poster.