Monday, October 20, 2014

I'll Trade You.

We were invited to a Harvest/Barter Party and boy, was it cool!  Not only were there lots of interesting and friendly people to visit with, but it was a beautiful day on a great piece of property in the valley.  "What's a barter party?" you ask?  I'd never heard of this either, but I am sure glad that I have now.  Basically, everyone brings things we have grown, harvested, caught, canned, baked, frozen, or made that we might have more of than we need or want and then we all barter for what others have brought.  Also it was potluck.

At first I was stymied about what to bring. Eric suggested baking up some sweet treats, but it seemed like maybe longer-lasting things like canned good or freezable foods were more on-target.  We didn't have that.  Then I floated dog treats by him and he agreed that was a good idea.  Something a little different and when I last made them to share with his coworkers many raves were issued.

The tags say "BACON BONES & BATS For DOGS" with ingredients listed on the bag in case of food allergies.

I tend to overdo rather than under-do if given enough time to over think and so I became less convinced that dog treats were enough.  This is despite the invitation saying that any amount is more than welcome.  So with a just few days to spare, I said to myself, "Eff it, I'm making gin" and went out early the next morning to pick up supplies.

A 1.75 ml bottle of vodka yielded <4.5 pints of gin once "processed."

Plus, I got to use some new stamps I picked up recently to make labels!  One of the few requirements is that all barter items are clearly labeled with what it is and who brought it, so I was required to make labels.

On the day of the party I reread the invitation and worried we weren't bringing enough.  It's our first time, we don't want to look stingy, right? RIGHT!?  Annnnnd since, my friend Tiffany at Fizzy Party, had just sent me a fun "scare package" full of Halloween crafty stuff, I decided to whip out a few handmade Halloween cards (stationary was on the list of popular items from previous years).  I didn't take pictures of all four unique cards as I was feeling pressed for time, but here's how I presented them on the table.  All four were bartered in exchange for a one-pound bag of hand-raked, fresh cranberries that another guest had picked up on a trip to Wisconsin.

Of course, I had planned to take a few photos of the tables laden with produce, home-canned and homemade goods, but we were having too much fun visiting, enjoying the weather and views, and paying attention so we could learn how it worked for me to hassle with photos. Sometimes you give up documenting the moments to actually live them.  You'll just have to imagine an large, clean, brightly lit garage/shop with 3 or more tables and some sawhorses with boards on top stretched down the middle, all covered with colorfully table clothes and loaded up with great things.  There were fresh, dried, and canned fruits and veg, frozen meats, knitted and sewn things, various forms of alcohol, baked goods, handmade cards (in addition to mine), glass art, seeds, bulbs, and roots.  I'm sure I'm forgetting some things, too.  It worked like this: the host and hostess started by introducing themselves and describing what they had to barter and then we just went around the tables, kind of in order.  We were reminded that it was okay to say "no thank you" if you just didn't want something and encouraged to not get our feelings hurt in such cases.  Last rule: once you've bartered an item, remove it from the table. Then we were set loose to barter!  For us, the first three pints of gin went quickly, then there was a bit of a lull.  Next the dog treats started going and then I traded the cards for the cranberries.  Just when I was thinking we'd go home with gin, I was approached about the last jar.  Then the last of the dog treats found homes in quick order and we were done.  Prior to beginning, Eric and I discussed items we were interested in and then both bartered around.  Eric started us a little pile on the edge of the building, as did everyone else.  Our little pile got kind of big!

Anyone who makes anything knows how much fun it is to share and how great it feels when someone appreciates what you've made, perhaps especially if they make things, too, and know the time, thought, skill, talent, etc. that can go into making. That was the most fun,but it still was really fun to come home with all these great things made and grown by others.

The oldest person we traded with was Mabel, aged 90, 91, or 93 depending on who's telling.  She wanted some gin and we wanted her to have it, so we have maybe more heirloom tomatoes than we need, but we'll find a way to use them.  The youngest person was a fellow who mumbled his name into his companion's knees and who I would guess was about 4 years old.  He wanted dog treats and had made chili kits containing herbs, spices, a couple-few finds of beans, and a recipe card hand decorated with colored markers.

If the hosts do this again next year, I hope we're invited. I'm already socking away ideas of things to take.  I bet I know quite a few people who like this idea and I hope some friends back in Oregon and beyond will organize something like it.

Who wants dog hair?  We have more than enough.


  1. Wow, what a fun way to spend a little time sharing and getting to know some people in the community. I think that's rad! I hope our little mountain town does something like this, I'd totally jump on board. I think you made some great barters!

  2. How cool is that? I wonder if anyone in Boise's doing this! A note on them 'maters: you can seed them and freeze them- just cut in half, squish out the seeds, and stow them in a ziplock. Later on, just slice the frozen hunk and add them to sauces or soups. And what is this about gin? YOU CAN MAKE THAT?! Teach us! Teach us! :)

  3. This looks so cool! We need to be doing this in Boise, for sure! Great variety, in the swapped items- ya done good. :) BTW, about the tomatoes- cut 'em in half, squish out the seeds, and freeze them to add to soups and sauces later on. They make everything taste great!
    Now, about that do you make that? I'm intrigued!

  4. I'm so out of practice with the blog that I forget to check on comments! So, I went ahead and published both of yours, Heather, because it makes me feel popular. ;) THANK you for the info on the 'maters! I will do that. And I guess I should do a gin-making tutorial just to spread the goodness! THANKS!


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