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Dear Editor,

I have heard that in a “the end of the world as we know it” situation, that bartering will become the predominant way of obtaining goods and services. What types of items would be good to have for bartering with? I keep hearing about silver and gold, but are these really practical? You can’t eat gold.


Clueless in Seattle


Dear Clueless,

You’re right – you can’t eat silver or gold. However, it’s not totally foolish to have some junk silver in reserve, or a little gold. A barter economy wouldn’t last forever, and having a small store of precious metals would be advantageous when a monetary system was reinstated. However, investing entirely in precious metals isn’t very wise.

Begin by thinking outside the box. Seed and ammunition are the two most common commodities that people stock up on. But there is so much more out there. Think about your average day. What are the things that you do that, should TEOTWAWKI occur, you would no longer have access to? Don’t think about the big ticket items… think about the little things. For instance, take clothing for example. Unlike the Israelites wandering in the desert, our shoes and clothes won’t last for 40 years. I have a stock of needles and thread, along with sundry items like buttons, zippers, etc. But you know what I have even more than that? An old 1924 Singer sewing machine that is completely mechanical and doesn’t run off electricity. (Believe it or not, it will outperform many electric models on the market today.) This machine didn’t cost me a million dollars – I paid a little over $100 for it, and eBay is full of them. You can still get repair parts for these too. It sits very nicely as a foyer table in my entryway, but will be there if and when I need it.

Also, consider the skills you have and the things you do well. Are you a gunsmith? Do you have mechanical knowledge? Are you a nurse or a doctor? Your skills alone are barterable items. And don’t despair if your greatest talent is playing the piano. Just because one may be living in stark, dire circumstances doesn’t mean we won’t yearn for a touch of beauty in our days or even a way to give voice to the desolation of spirit we may feel. Everything can be considered and laid on the table when it comes to bartering.

But in answer to your question, I would say the following is a good place to start:

  • Seeds
  • Ammunition
  • Repair parts for items like sewing machines, guns, pressure canners, etc.
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Food
  • Toiletries  (can you imagine the joy someone would feel if, after months of having no soap to bathe with, you popped out a 3-pack of Irish Spring to trade? What about toilet paper?)
  • Medicines and surgical items

And these items don’t even scratch the surface. Sit down and make a concentrated effort to compose a list of talents, abilities, and items that you can contribute to society in the event of a natural disaster or economic collapse. And then start stockpiling those items.

The Editor



Dear Editor,

I’m a relatively new chicken keeper and have not been exposed to molting in my chickens before now. My chicken coop looks like a pillow fight broke out and my hens have all but quit laying. Is there anything special I need to do? Is there any way to shorten this molting cycle and get back to egg laying?



Dear CB,

While technically you may be able to shorten the molt in your chickens, it’s cruel and hard on their systems to do so because you do it through limiting feed and water and stressing them excessively. Let nature take its course, provide them plenty of room, allow them to free-range as much as possible, and keep them well-watered and well-fed. You’ll have happier, healthier chickens in the long run.

Molting is extremely stressful and energy extensive for the flock. Protein is a major requirement during this time, so treats like mealworms or extra time out free-ranging for bugs is a must. You can even offer them small portions of cat food because it contains animal proteins their bodies can use. (Don’t use dog food… it is grain-based and not as beneficial for birds in the molt.) Reduce all stress levels as much as possible when your birds are molting as well. Avoid loud noises such as lawn mowing or leaf blowing around your flock, and don’t introduce new birds to the flock until after the molt is finished.

Make sure your flock has plenty of room as well. If you notice cannibalism and pecking during this time, you more than likely don’t have sufficient room for your birds. Remove any birds that have been injured from pecking so that they can heal. Remember, your chickens are living animals, not production machines. A respect for all animals in our care is the first tenet of responsible animal ownership.

The Editor


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