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Routine Trips

February 12, 2015
Small feed stores or farmer's Co-op often has a small selection of basic horse equipment

Small feed stores or farmer’s Co-op often has a small selection of basic horse equipment

Some things don’t change. Many things do, but sometimes in some areas, there is a comfort in familiar. Diva and I went to town earlier to get some supplies. Nothing out of the ordinary – two stops at two different places with vastly different memories.

Saturday mornings when I was growing up was errand day. We hit the elevator (that’s feed mill to most folks), miscellaneous stops for things needed, then last the grocery store. There might be a candy bar in it while we snuggled down in the back of the truck for the ride home. It was a day before seat belts were mandatory and when some risk of life was assumed.

Today first stop was the county farmer’s co-op – not quite as expansive as the elevator with large grain bins that took a farmer’s harvest and distributed to those needing it for feed. There’s bulk corn and cattle feed, and feed for about any kind of animal – and fish – you want to feed. There’s baled hay and pine needles (or pine straw, as it’s called locally), shavings, medications that are common and don’t require veterinary approval, feeders and garden supplies. There’s handles for the shovel or fork that broke again (it’s not just Connor that is hard on tools!) and traps for pests, be it mice or dogs. Diva waited patiently in the truck while I paid for the alfalfa-oat pellets, all stock pellets and layer pellets – the first two mixed with chopped hay keep the rabbits happy, the last two keep the birds happy.

Bye bye brings a sleepy Doberman to full attention. Or keys. Same thing.

Bye bye brings a sleepy Doberman to full attention. Or keys. Same thing.

For many in rural areas, the farmer’s co-op, elevator or like area is the farm version of Cheers. They know what you have, what your normal purchase is, and can handle the occasional oddball situations. For example, a while back I’d sent someone to go make a feed run, and after he left it was noted we needed dog food. I didn’t want to make a 40 mile trip for a bag of dog food…oh what to do. I called the co-op – told the gal that there would be someone coming in with my check and my truck to get some feed, and if possible add a bag of dog food onto it. Done! While that’s a little thing in customer service, it saved a 20 mile drive to town and back – and is remembered.

Once paid, we back up to the side door and the feed is loaded. Sometimes bulk corn is purchased for the poultry – in which case we go across the scale, load then cross the scale again – the difference between the figures is paid in corn dollars. They may have occasional chickens, kittens or other small critters, small scale honey or molasses or other edible goodies and know who might have pigs, calves, rabbits or other things for sale. It’s a hub of information and supplies all in one stop that can handle the person with a few chickens or those with a farm full.

Once loaded, a stop at Tractor Supply was needed to get some bagged straw I’ve been eyeing. Although we’ve used hay previously, and that works, the large bale remnants is dusty and would not be good if the doe eats it – or babies breathe it. For lack of finding another bale, I noted that TSC has bagged straw on previous trips, as well as the bagged hay that is mixed with pellets for the rabbits.

Diva LOVES trips to Tractor Supply! She has since she was a puppy when she’d “shop” by occasionally grabbing a toy, then graduating to the chew toy aisle which remains her favorite. She discreetly checks the piles of dog food bags in hopes one will be broken and a couple pieces will have dropped on the floor so she can grab it before I notice her observation. She’s also figured out that she gets lots of attention and admiration when she’s in there!

I, however, tolerate it. Cool to look at sometimes, but it’s the WalMart version of the farmer’s co-op. Things are urbanized and it’s a transaction, not an interaction. They want to be a “farm WalMart” for an urban market, while keeping the toe dipped in the farm belt. It’s tough to do both in today’s world.

Straw - less seeds to compost than hay, but hard to find small scale in Alabama.

Straw – less seeds to compost than hay, but hard to find small scale in Alabama.

So, leash snapped on, we stride into the store, grab a buggy and head to the corner where the livestock feed and straw has been. I round the corner to find – horror – EMPTY where the straw should be. I think I might have whimpered. People up north laugh – but when I ask for straw here folks point to pine needles. So it was a stroke of luck to find bagged for $10, about 3 times the price of a bale in Illinois, but I can’t get to Illinois with a truck and trailer to haul some home…if only. I thought perhaps it was on an endcap. No luck.

Lovely so a dozen litters on the way between now and the end of the month…shredded paper and leaves is an alternative but not a pleasant one. Shavings is ok as a base but not enough for youngsters to snuggle in and stay warm. Oh what to do. One last hope – asking if there might be one in back, or when there would be some in. The latter was dashed when the worker said there *might* be some on the truck next week. Oh, but wait, here’s one bale in back. I thanked her profusely, more relieved than a PMS fit craving chocolate. Bunnies are saved after all – straw!

So straw and dog food collected, I tried not to look too hard at the gardening stuff coming in, and ignored the steel decoration I really want to put on layaway but don’t have the extra $10 to put a $35 item on layaway. *sigh* Maybe it’ll be there later. Or not. Priorities!

A young man who was a Diva admirer helped transfer the straw to the back of the truck and we headed for putting a little “go juice” – fuel – in the truck to insure that once home, there was fuel to make it back to town whenever that might happen.

Routine. Past or present. Comfortable routine.

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