COUNTRY♀WOMEN #23, 24, 25, 30

Much in the way I began most of my girlhood diary entries with an apology for the interlude between entries, I would like to apologize now for taking off a few days in the course of this “daily”  COUNTRY♀WOMEN self assignment. I’ve missed doing them, but I had a lot of fun in LA too :0) OK! These are the last ones I’ve got. After this comes the Anne Kent Rush extravaganza.

COUNTRY♀WOMEN #30: International Women

from "Women in Denmark"

  Joan Wood

Another important proposal on the Danish horizon is made by the Children’s Commission and the Equality Council. The main idea of the law is to give a maximum leave of sixty-eight weeks- dealt between the parents over the first nine years of the child’s life. The Commission and Council believe in including the father more in the care of the newborn child. As they clearly state it, “It is just as important to support the family’s inner solidarity by having both parents take equal part in the responsibility and care of children in such a way that both the values of life and the burdens that are connected with it are shared more equally between the sexes.”

Most importantly, a law must be made that this leave of absence will not interrupt seniority, and an employer cannot fire an employee who uses his or her leave. Although this law most likely will not be approved in full, or be completely backed up financially, the fact alone that these parties in Parliament will be to the benefit of future parents and their offspring. For all the parties who use improvements in family life as their campaign slogans, this will also be a time to prove they are willing to stand behind their words, rather than think solely in terms of the costs.

COUNTRY♀WOMEN #25: Fiction


  Denise Taylor

I bring you lilacs, tulips, daisies, daffodils, iris the color of sky at dusk over the coast of California. I want to remind you of summer, how it arrives in spite of our impatience. The days grow sluggish as snails and we too turn into sand creatures curled against each other on a blanket, books flat-faced where we left them. Already our faces are flushed. I pull the rose cotton shirt over my head and you watch me from the bed. I can see you in the mirror, aura of hair unkempt, your pale eyes amused at my preening. You think I am a bird stroking my own new wings, looking back at your approval. Laughing, I slip out for the pier to buy fresh prawns. Our future leans only as far as dinner. We are happy.

COUNTRY♀WOMEN #24: Personal Power


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This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog


from I Eat Meat

  Sherry Thomas

Three years ago I decided that I had to learn to kill if I was to continue eating meat. This was not a moral imperative, but a personal one. I sent my lambs and goat kids off to butchers and stockyards and I wanted to know what that meant, what I was doing. There is no way to live with domesticated animals and not be involved with death. Almost all of the young males must be slaughtered and there are the older, “cull” animals which must be killed or sold, unless one chooses to spend money on the luxury of free retirements. Once becomes involved with death either remotely (by putting an animal up for sale and not actually experiencing the consequences) or very directly (literally with bloody hands). For me, the latter way is best. I know how my animals die and when and where. What I don’t need for my own use, I try now to sell to friends or to slaughter for acquaintances. I feel better doing it myself than sending my animals off to auctions and slaughterhouses.

I learned to butcher from my neighbors, two brothers in their eighties. The first time was probably as hard and as meaningful as it will ever be. She was Diesel, a “bummer” lamb I had raised on a bottle. Her mother was killed by dogs when the lamb was a month old and a nearby rancher gave her to me to raise. From the first, I knew she would eventually be slaughtered as she was a mutton-type sheep not suitable for my wool-type flock. Every day for two months I fed her on a bottle, cared for her, loved her and knew that I would someday kill her. She lived eight months as happy as any sheep ever does, a good, peaceful life. Then one day my neighbor shot her in the back of the head with a 22. She was grazing and never saw him; she fell, glassy-eyed before I heard the sound of the shot. Then he slit her throat to bleed her. I knew she had died without pain and without fear.

As my sister and I skinned and gutted her, I kept looking at her saying, “This is Diesel; I have taken her life.” I felt very conscious, humble and thankful. Later that night, I found that I was very shaken. When I closed my eyes, I would see Diesel falling dead or Diesel’s body being skinned. This was a very intense, but not a negative experience. I did not feel bad about what I had done, but I was feeling all of it. The act of killing is one we are very removed from in this society; for the first time, I was experiencing my place in the cycle of life and death.

This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog

COUNTRY♀WOMEN #16: Women Working

from "Clay Digging"

  by Billie Luisi

The earth reveals her workable clays. Streams, ponds, and the shores of other bodies of water are her sites. You may find it helpful to check with your local Federal Soil and Conservation office for geological information relevant to workable clays in your locality. Sites of defunct potteries and brickyards were usually located near the clay source. There are many farmers and older people in your area who know where there’s clay; they’ve been meeting up with it for forty or fifty years when tilling and planting. Well sites and construction clearances provide accessible sources. You have to get there and dig before the project is completed, before cheap topsoil and astroturf are brought in to hid the scars. Folks are very kind about giving permission to dig and haul clay; I think they like to see it going to some use.

This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog


Saturn Cycle

  Sharon Yudin Wintner
Astrology is a system of cycles, and the motions of the planets against the zodiacal constellations can help us understand our own individual life cycles. Why, for example, does it seem that so many people, as they approach the age of thirty, reach a resolution about the kind of work they want to do and the kind of life style they feel most comfortable with? The late twenties are years of change—breaks from the past and resolutions about the future. this cycle repeats itself around the mid to late fifties—children have grown up; there are many divorces or changes in relationships as people find that they can no longer fall back on their youth and the plans, hopes, and building for the future that sustained them through the earlier years; many people realize that they are bored with the work they have been doing for twenty or thirty years, and often they have to deal with the rejection of their children of all they’ve built for them through this work…

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These critical periods in our life cycles coincide with the cycles of the planet Saturn. Approximately every twenty-eight years Saturn completes a cycle around the twelve signs of the Zodiac. Thus, every individual experiences a “Saturn Return” around her/his 28th year and again at 56 and at 84; that is, at about ages 28, 56, and 84 Saturn returns to the same degree of the same sign that it was in at the time of the individuals’ birth.  These two, or at the most three, Saturn Returns are major landmarks in a lifetime and an increased understanding of the planet Saturn, can help tremendously in dealing with the upheaval people commonly go through at these times.

Saturn teaches us about sensitivity and responsibility—being sensitively tuned in to the needs of oneself and others so that one can then be responsible about meeting those needs. Saturn teaches us to focus on reality and to learn to assess it; to develop a sense of judgement and to use or develop the strength and fortitude to follow through; to act on one’s own assessment of reality and one’s own needs. It teaches us to trust our centers, our guts, to know what is right for the individual in the present—not for anyone else and not what was right yesterday or what may be right tomorrow, but for the Self, Now. Saturnian strength is knowing that nobody else’s standards are quite suited to you, just as yours will not be quite suited to anyone else; that each person must follow her/his own inner structures, needs, strengths and standards.

Thus Saturn is always striving for individual growth. But it is also constantly reaching out to its environment, its society. Saturnian growth is always linked with social usefulness—what can I contribute to the social whole? How can I affect my society? So sensitive is Saturn to its social environment that a strong Saturnian influence can make a person a virtual microcosm of whatever social structures and norms surround her—unless, that is, she can get to her own deepest center and tune into the person rather than the structures that seem to contain her. The question “How can I be socially useful?” presupposes a clear sense of the “I”. No one can be wholly effective unless she is functioning from a solid foundation, a solid center within the self. The Saturn Return is a good time to ask oneself—Am I creating or adapting the structures of my life to best fulfill my own needs and potential? Or am I adapting myself to fit into the structures provided for me by my society, family, or whatever?

Saturnian energy can help us to see what is happening internally and externally at any given moment and to respond (from the same root as “responsibility”)  to that reality. The response is always geared toward growth—not the most pleasurable, or the easiest, or the most immediately satisfying resolution or action; but the path which will lead to the greatest ultimate development of the soul (individual) in question. Saturn’s lessons are difficult, but solidly rewarding. A Saturn reward is not a pat on the back or a passing show of approval; it is an anchor in reality, an anchor in sanity that can help stabilize and strengthen one through whatever storms life may take her. One has to work for such an anchor; one has to earn it—and it is through the process of learning Saturn lessons, or the lessons or reality, that this is done. Testing one’s limits is the way to stretch them. Thus, a period of hardship—physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual—necessitates raising one’s tolerance level and increasing one’s self-reliance. The less one needs those things which one can lose, the less fearful one becomes, the more anchored and stable within the self.

The Saturn Return is a time for self-examination. Where you’ve been cheating, restricting, or denying your true potential for spiritual growth, accept the prods that nudge you toward it. Where you’ve been fulfilling and developing your potential, accept the rewards and keep moving. Remember that reality is in a state of constant flux and it is realistic to accept change; to be able to respond to the reality of the moment in a way that feels right at that moment for yourself. Remember also that Saturnian movement is slow and steady, not sudden and spasmodic. A Saturn Return may be felt for a year or more, though its peak intensity is usually about six months or less. It is difficult to know what Saturn is doing to or for you until there is some distance and hindsight. While it’s happening, it may feel either like your  life is coming together or like it’s falling apart, but it is only with the perspective of hindsight that you can wholly appreciate the new strengths and wisdom you may have gained.

This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog

COUNTRY♀WOMEN #12: Children’s Liberation

Bats, Feminism and Candy: Interview of Country Women (represented by Pam and Harriet) and Sanji, Kate, Allison

CW: What do you wonder?

A: I wonder about the people in Japan. What is it like in a war. I wonder what it’s like to be abaloneing.

S: I wonder, I wonder, I wonder, what it’s like on other planets. I wonder what nothing looks like; And like on the moon. I wonder how the beings are on other planets.

K: I wonder why grownups don’t like a lot of children to see a lot of things that they do. Like in bars and courtrooms, and movies, and like making love.

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A: I wonder if there are really Martians. I wonder what it’s like to be an Indian. I wonder if there’s really ghosts.

K: I don’t believe if you burn someone’s grave the spirits haunt you. I wonder a lot of things. I wonder why a lot of kids aren’t allowed to swear.

A: Children I mean.

S: They swear like this—Baaaaaa.

A: I have to go take a shit. Let’s turn the tape off.

CW: Can’t you say that into the tape?

K: If we put it in Country Women all the straight people will read it.

CW: I’d like to talk about that. Even in our favorite books they don’t go shit and pee.

A: I know.

S: Yeah, even in Laura and Mary books. They are the weirdest people in the world. They never go shit or pee or eve have an outhouse.

K: Maybe she was constipated….

This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog

COUNTRY♀WOMEN #11: Older Women

from "Ageism in Paradise"

  Caledonia Watson

I live on top of a ridge, overlooking a river, in sheep country. The land around me is still green from the late rains. As I drove hoe from work the other evening, through a light mist, I saw a rainbow with each color clearly, brilliantly standing out against a bank of dark clouds. The rainbow stretched from the river below me, over the road and into the next valley. Above it was another, much fainter one forming a double arch under which I drove, marveling at the sight. I won’t say I found a pot of gold at the end of it. After all, a funky house, two kids, five cats and a baby donkey don’t constitute a pot of gold or maybe even a brass ring. But the fire was going and dinner was started, my son’s latest invention was whirring away and winter is over; it’s time to get the garden in and anyway I’m too tired at night to cry the unshed tears of loneliness behind my eyes before I fall asleep. Besides, I am never afraid of the dark out here. My door is unlocked.

This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog

COUNTRY♀WOMEN #10: Spirituality

Land: Four Views

  by Sam Thomas, Bobbi Jones, Ruth of Mountain Grove

Yesterday I walked to the sea, all downhill and of course all uphill on the way back. It was good to be able to do, to feel that I had that much strength and endurance.

The walk, especially as I came in view of the wide sky and ocean, opened up my spirit, uncramped my mind. The sunset—the sun’s reflection a streak of red—spread its colors all across the rippling sea. The wind was cold.

The walk back up the rise was a challenge. Coming across a gulley in need of a bridge, I was huge old black logs from the seventeen-year-old clearcutting, young pine trees, lilac bushes all up one hill—straight up and down it feels.

This land of ravines and clearcut steep hill, of rushing streams; this land of meandering deer trails and animal holes; this land is a challenge to the body and the spirit. I need this land as much as I need food. It pulls in the back of my calves, it challenges the soles of my boots, it tests my endurance. This land stretches me.

This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog

COUNTRY♀WOMEN #8: The Women’s Movement in the Country

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from "Four Voices from Blue Mountain"

  Nada: Looking Forward & Backwards

I was taken by the land; mountains, meadows, woods, no one living up-stream, and the spirit of the people.

I had come from the city. I was just beginning to form a consciousness about women; the possibility of feeling strong with the support of women. I was just beginning to drop my youthful fantasy about the prince charming I would meet who would be everything to me. I was just starting to realize that through the years, the people I was closest to longest were women. Also realizing I wanted a relationship with men more on the level of brother and sister, sharing the work and responsibility. When my friend June and I suggested a women’s meeting to some of the women who were here from the beginning, they said, “Who us? We don’t need women’s meetings. That’s for city women.” It was a threatening idea, implying some separation from the men that no one was ready or willing to make. It was a year later that we had our first women’s meeting.

Now we have women’s meetings sometimes every week, sometimes infrequently. There were times when we would meet at night and spent the night together, a few times when we spent two days and nights together. A time when eight of us lived together at the women’s house. Sometimes we meet at night around the fire. I used to have high expectations and desires for a deep level of intimacy at these meetings. At times it happens, other times it doesn’t. Sometimes I’m disappointed, feeling we haven’t fully explored or used our power as women to change things here. But I’m also aware of our growing connection with each other, a trusting and knowing we are here for each other. Discovering how we can move as a group, as one’s, two’s and three’s, with men and without men, as people whose lives, spirits and work are intimately connected. This winter we have emerged more as who we really are.

It seems important for each of us to come to a higher consciousness in our own way, at our own paces. I mean, four years ago, we could talk about sharing our life, our children, and our work on all it’s different levels. But only now and slowly are the changes really taking effect. We still have a long way to go. Only with time will we be able to sort out what we really want of the old and the new.

This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog

COUNTRY♀WOMEN #7: Women & Land

We are a struggling family of three (one four year old girl) with a January baby on the way and an old ramshackle farm house, in the back fields of Virginia. We’re looking for a woman with kid or kids or a trying to be non-sexist couple with kids to survive the winter with us and help our children out with “hippie-kid loneliness”.
I need you – Love in struggle, Carmen
Bonniechild, 3011 Luxembourg, Norfolk
Virginia 23509

This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog

COUNTRY♀WOMEN #6: Living Alternatives

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A Room of my Own

  by Patsy Sun

I live alone.

I don’t really live alone. Every other week I live with my 3 year old son. (On alternate weeks he goes with his papa.) We can afford to do it this way because we grow our own food, live simply and neither of us has a straight job. A few days each week we all spend together. Half the time I live in the city in a room in the basement of a student cooperative amongst a lot of people I am not very close with. I’m not even a student. The other half I live in the woods in a log cabin I helped build, with trees and a river and little birds and animals I am very close to. I say “I live alone” because that is what I’m struggling with. It’s new to me and alternately exciting and scary.

Getting the room was something did for myself. It is mine, no one elses. Getting the room was very hard. For a year and a half we all lived in the cabin. After living with Bob for nearly 8 years in communes it was really fun at first. We had never before lived as a family. The 3 bears, the mama, the papa, and the little baby in their cabin in the woods. We have always lived doing things together and enjoyed our work. At night we’d sit around the fire reading to each other or plying guitar and autoharp. A few days each week we’d hitchhike to the city to see friends, work at the food co-op or on the underground newspaper. We grew our own food; cut our wood. Watched the seasons change. Our life was simple and holy and sane. Only after awhile we started going crazy. More and more there were tensions, fights, emotional outbursts and guilt about Kiya having no kids to play with.

And then some how I got this idea of a room of my own in town. It’s the first room of my own I’ve had for 8 years. Once I began to fantasize about the idea there was no turning back. I felt I had to have physical and emotional space. It was not just the pressure of the last year living so closely without day to day relationships with other people, but the whole 8 years of accommodation to US, to Our Life Together, which in my case meant so often doing what he wanted because I didn’t really know what I wanted. Getting the room was something I wanted. It was full of implications. For me it meant not just a place of my own, but a life of my own. Bob was both threatened and supportive. I was torn but determined. I felt I was “destroying the family” cutting off my only source of love and security, hurting my dearest friend, giving birth to myself and committing suicide all at the same time.

Now four months later none of what I feared has happened. Our alternate week child care system with planned family days is providing us both with precious time to be responsible only for ourselves as well as time to really tune in to little Kiya and each other when we’re together, in a new and more intense way. Kiya has not flipped out but seems to handle the situation with the kind of cool that only a kid has. Bob is no longer threatened but digging his new independence. Though there is still a lot of shit between us that I don’t understand, we’re working on it and sometimes we feel close and more excited about each other than we have for years. Most important, slowly, very slowly I am finding new sources of emotional security and nourishment.

The hard part is something I didn’t really anticipate, the loneliness. The people I am really close to, except for Bob, are all 1000 miles away in New Mexico, Kentucky, Connecticut, India, Alaska, and California. I had never spent much time alone; family, school, college, communes. I had always set things up so that I was well supplied with companions, if not friends. Consequently I find myself now, very shy and uptight and unskilled at getting it on it a regular social way. Most of the people I work with on projects don’t know I’m shy. I appear confident and friendly. If I don’t reach out, it must be assumed I choose not to, my life must already be full. A lot of people don’t know of the change in my relationship with Bob. I go home to my room alone, or out to the country. It’s strange, in the woods I can be alone, but I’m somehow filled up. In the city I fill myself up, fill my time writing, meditating, drawing, organizing myself, relishing those solitary things that for years I’ve not had enough time for. I work amongst people, I live around people, but it’s not uncommon to pass several days without a meaningful personal conversation. That’s when I begin to get scared. I lose my confidence to meet my own needs. I begin to withdraw more and more into myself. I withdraw and then I hit bottom. The panic comes in the city. I begin to think of the future. It’s not that the present is so intolerable, but I begin to think… “What am I going to do? I can’t go forever like this. I’m too lonely, I’ve got to do something! Go to my friends in Kentucky. Find people somehow around here that I want to live with. Make up my mind to e alone for a long time…”

I touch bottom in the country. I touch bottom and what I find there is me, and the god in me and everything is fine and I understand that this struggle is necessary and good, that I have grown and am growing; that this is something I have never had to do before and that even my pain is a kind of gift that is strengthening me. I remember then, an old Chippewa Indian saying. “Sometimes I go around pitying myself and all the time I am being carried on great wings across the sky.”

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This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog

COUNTRY♀WOMEN #5: Homesteading

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  by Jeanne Tetrault

Setting Posts:

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You can dig your postholes in the fall and set the posts in the spring. It’s fairly light work to clean out an already-dug hole. There are lots of methods of setting posts, extra time tamping them in will give your posts long-lasting strength. Tamping is the packing of earth in around the post. It is best done with a heavy pole or pipe whose weight will join with your strength to pack the earth. We use a 5′ piece of old iron pipe with a cap on one end. The pipe has more weight than a shovel handle which we used to use, won’t give you slivers and its small diameter lets you tamp really tightly. First put a little gravel or sand in the hole to create good drainage. Set your post in and straighten it by eye or using a carpenter’s level. When you have some earth packed in, recheck the post for straightness. We usually mix gravel and earth, putting in 2 or 3 inch layers of each (earth first gravel next) and tamping well. The more care you give to tamping the earth solidly, the stronger your post will be. Another method is to fill all but the top 5-6″ with sand, put in a layer of grael and tamp well. This takes more physical strength and a much heavier tamper but is said to last longest and stronger. After tamping this, fill to the top with sand and pack again. Our gravel-dirt method also works if your soil is muddy.

Setting posts is a nice two person job. Take turns tamping and putting in the dirt, gravel or sand. The rhythmic circling of the tamper, the touching of earth, metal, stone and wood can become a beautiful ritual. Another part of farm work that blends music an purposeful work.

This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog

COUNTRY♀WOMEN #4: Work & Money

Homemade pie & publications, girls & handmade gifts & gifts for Em Gift, that’s where it’s at! My chances of finding the time to make holiday gifts this year feel slim at the moment, so as a head start, I’d like to share some readymade gifts of bodacious knowledge that were made by the hands of women I admire very much. Please re-gift!

My plan is that each December day, I’ll share information and illustrations from some of my favorite lady resources that are otherwise available only in print. All share a certain calligraphy + typewriter style and are sisters to the utilitarian, anecdotal, mimeographed publishing that is most basically described as “access to tools” by its mother hen, The Whole Earth Catalog, and might also be described as DIY hippies disseminating their ideas before there were blogs for that. There are many, many other authoresses who worked in this style throughout the 1970s, and we often try to stock their books at our shop (honorable mention to Alicia Bay Laurel and Caterine Milinaire), but I’ve decided to limit myself to publications that take on, not just back to the landing, but ladies on the farm.

First, I’m going to take us through Volume 1. of Country♀Women to the extent that I am readily able. I’m missing a few issues, but the ones I have are incredibly rich. For each issue, I will share some images and illustrations and transcribe one article that seems especially nice to be able to read. Then I’m going to do a week honoring the work of Bay Area author and illustrator Anne Kent Rush.


On a visit to Teddy Kell‘s home in Rough and Ready last summer, a place of many moony gatherings, I was given her copies of Country♀Women by her daughter Meg. Published in the early 1970s in Albion, CA, edited collectively and costing 60¢ each, the hand-illustrated and typed journal carried this mission:

We see Country♀Women as a feminist country survival manual and a creative journal. It is for women living with women, with men, and alone, for women who live in the country already and for women who want to move out of the cities. We need to learn all that women can do in the country and learn to break out of oppressive roles and images. We need to reach out of our isolation from one another, to know that we aren’t alone, that we aren’t crazy, that there is a lot of love and strength and growing to share. Country♀Women can bring us together….

Each issue took on a particular theme, from Living Alternatives to Foremothers, and women across the country contributed written articles, poems, images, and illustrations. The front section of each issue addressed the chosen theme and the second half offered instruction on practical skills like adjusting brakes, goat healthcare, and, often, shirt-free self defense moves. It is such a delight to feel the urgency of their reports from the feminist field and to take note of what’s changed in 40 years, and what has remained the same. Good thing there’s a film for that! Women on the Land: Creating Conscious Community, produced by Mendocino Coast Films, was released earlier this year.

I’m going to start us out with Vol. 1, Issue #4: Work & Money. I hope you enjoy the series!


   by Leona

Alternative life style and creative living: these two themes motivated 16 people living in an isolated community in the Santa Cruz mountains. After doing a couple of faires selling funky hand made things and good homemade bread to raise cash, Diana struck on the idea of bartering with local farmers.

Setting out early one morning high on the idea and with 35 loaves of freshly baked whole-grain breads, two women wound their way down into nearby farm lands. Knocking on doors or calling across fields, they proposed bartering of breads for surplus fruits and vegetables. Their reception was some disbelief and distrust, but mostly pleased acceptance as if some primal sense was awakened. By noon five farms had traded bread for vegetables and agreed to do so each week. The women returned joyously, with an abundance of truly fresh vegetables and fruits.

This marked the end of produce purchases and the beginning of high energy bread baking days and adventures into the country to talk and harvest with the people who till the land.

So successful was this first attempt at bartering as a viable alternative to money that when our medical problems were going unattended for lack of funds, we decided to try it again. Visiting a local doctor, we offered whatever talents we had in trade for his professional services. Skeptical that a horde of long-hairs could carry through, but wooed by the sincerity and obvious need, he agreed.

The barter agreed upon—our group labor was tithed to the Catholic church in town to paint and varnish a new wing. We went en masse, 7 to 12 or us, and worked for 5 to 6 hours for four days—accruing some 200 plus hours of labor in the most pleasant of ways by working together.

Although the doctor was somewhat overwhelmed by the $250 that the father had evaluated our work to be worth, he made good his half of the bargain and provided medical care and medicine for the group of us over a five month period.

Two men in need of extensive dental care “paid” for it in the same way—only now the work-force became gardeners.

The contact that comes from bartering goods or labor adds new or forgotten dimension to what would otherwise be an unimaginative exchange. It can mean an economic benefit all around.

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This post originally appeared on the Gravel & Gold blog