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CLAAS combine
COMBINE OR KITCHEN? Do you think the wife is really looking at the combine, or deciding if she can get a new kitchen — and maybe even more — out of her husband if she goes along with the combine purchase?

Fair trading, farm-style

Hayhurst’s Hayloft: He wants a combine; she wants a kitchen. So they get a garage … really? Really!

By Susan Hayhurst

Fair trade. 

Wikipedia’s explanation of “fair trade” includes these phrases: “a social movement,” “to help producers in developing countries” and “to promote sustainable farming.” The movement also “seeks to promote greater equity in international trading partnerships through dialogue, transparency and respect.”

It’s time for a new definition. Fair trade is a movement whereby farm spouses get social while developing their own sustainability, and seek greater equity in local trading through conversation, accountability and listening.

Farmers, male or female, have impromptu gatherings when a new implement arrives in the barn lot. Friends smell the new paint or see the semi’s smoke and head for the toy’s official viewing.

Farmwives declare it’s time for a celebration when a barn is cleaned out, old equipment is sold or hauled away, or a farmwife scores a new kitchen or bathroom.

Such was the case for farmers Janet and Gordon Clinkenbeard, Freelandville, Ind. Gordon wanted a new combine. Janet believed her own sustainability was at risk because her kitchen was too small and no one could share it with her. Gordon said no one wanted to be in there with her!

Their partnership solution? They debated between combine and kitchen — and ended up building a new garage. They can now socialize in the garage if they feel the kitchen is too small. They both received something they needed after conversing (in a variety of tones!) and coming up with a doable plan.

Farming has always been about fair trade, bartering, comparing pros and cons, and trying to be sustainable for your respective families. I’m not sure when Gordon’s new combine will be purchased or when he will want to buy more Hereford cattle.

The real question, Gordon, is: “When will Janet get her new kitchen?”

Hayhurst writes from Terre Haute, Ind.

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