Trading Circle

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Trading Circle

Post by Maureen on Sat 19 Jul 2008, 6:07 pm

After a year of struggling toward self sufficiency I have come up with an idea. If the goal is to break the factory farm connection and grow your own food, then first problem one encounters is the steep learning curve. I don't care how many books you collect, it is overwhelming trying all at once to learn to raise goats, make cheese, raise chickens and ducks, grow a large garden, establish permaculture systems, feed & house everybody and repel predator animals, put by the harvest in various ways... whew! A lot of these activities require some economy of scale, specialized tools and knowledge, etc.

What I propose is that neighbors form circles and trade. I will use goats to try to explain how this might work. Suppose you have an acre or two with a little pasture and a few fruit trees and figure you can take care of two milk goats, but you don't want to keep buck and you don't have room for the kids these does will produce every year (to keep them milking). What's more you don't know anything about raising goats and you don't have any equipment. Here is a deal. You have a close neighbor (within a couple of miles) who keeps several milk goats, keeps a buck and knows how to perform routine maintenance on the goats, make cheese, etc. So you make a trade deal. Maybe you mainly trade your spring kids (at 70 days old) for the stud service in fall and for help with kidding, trimming hooves, etc. Keep in mind that the buck has to be kept separate most of the time and, at weaning, the kids have to have their own pen and facilities (or you are not going to get any milk.) The bucks have to be traded regularly to prevent inbreeding. See how complicated it is getting? Somehow I didn't get that from the books, nor did I understand how much having milk goats ties one down and how hard it is to get someone to fill in so you can have vacations and an occasional night out. (Neighbors will irrigate and tend chickens, but not milk.) But if you had a small circle of a few goat friends, this could work. The other thing about milk goats is that they need a lot of human contact. Two does and their human family is a perfect unit (plus or minus a big dog that protects them), except that you need connection for the buck and the kids.

Someone with a greenhouse and breeding experience with heirloom seeds could grow spring starts to set out and supply seeds for a small group of neighbors in trade for milk and eggs perhaps or ?

Someone with real farming acreage could supply rolled grains for animal winter feeds in exchange for milk, eggs, produce, etc.

Someone with woodworking skills might trade a stanchion (a device for holding doe still while you milk) for six months of milk or cheese.

You might think it easier to just SELL the milk or cheese. Sorry, that is illegal. Besides, it doesn't provide any of the community support system opportunities of the trading circle. Also, in this way, it is possible to keep a low profile -- especially if you can avoid the feed store completely (by growing your own or trading for feed).

In sum, a bit of interdependency would enable more independence from factory farms and the friendly spread of information/experience. Reinventing every wheel is exhausting!


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Re: Trading Circle

Post by paul4won on Sat 19 Jul 2008, 9:39 pm

I agree - especially about that steep learning curve. We are trying a "FED FREE Festival" concept - private parties to explore alternative economic models and one of the things I want to do is exchange ideas and build cooperative arrangements.


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