I love feed stores.
Somewhere, deep down in my psyche or my heart or my spirit, there’s a latent farm woman trying to get out.
I blogged a couple of weeks ago about trying new things, and because of weather and schedules, we haven’t had much opportunity to pursue the things I mentioned in that blog.
But this weekend, we’ve made some progress toward our modest goals. For one thing, my uncle offered us a free rabbit hutch and a chicken coop, so it would appear that we’ll be able to start our chicken experiment this year rather than next. I had considered waiting because we have so many other things lined up for this year, but as the coop is the biggest piece of getting chickens, it shouldn’t be tough to go ahead and start now. We’re only allowed three adult hens, according to the city, so we won’t have enough hens to really provide eggs for the whole family (we eat a lot of eggs). But this will be a good way to learn about chickens.
My husband also made some progress toward his rabbit breeding experiment–he purchased our first breeding rabbit:
Her eyes are weird because they’re pink. They don’t show up well in photos. I tried a few times, and this was the best I could get. She seems to have a good disposition. It’s our hope that she’ll be a good mama; several rabbit breeders have said that rabbit meat tastes best when the mama is relaxed and the babies are happy. Makes sense.
We had to go to the local farm and feed store to get the rabbit. Our house is right on the edge of rural nursery and farm country, and there are two or three feed stores within a few minutes of our house. They all look basically the same–there’s some kind of retail space, a warehouse/loading dock, and maybe some kind of small livestock area. From the gravel or crudely paved parking lot, one walks up the steps onto a wide concrete covered porch, where shelves of feed and racks of seedlings are on display.
And of course, it’s a time-honored tradition to jump off the porch when the family is ready to leave. Miss Lucy quickly eschewed the steps into the parking lot and announced that she would jump. Well, of course. I can’t tell you how many times I jumped from that exact same spot.
Walking into a feed store gets all of my dormant farming genes buzzing. The smell–leather, sawdust, feed, chicks–is better than fresh coffee, better than baking bread. It’s a combination of sensory input that conjures memories–buying chicks every spring with Grandma M, stumbling upon a box of free puppies or kittens brought in by a local farmer, picking up some kind of halter or rope or feed for one of the various critters we had when I was a kid. The people inside haven’t changed much, either–more hobbyists now, fewer career farmers, but the same kind of salt-of-the-earth folk. And the one hallmark of spring is still there:
I love ’em. I’m not a huge fan of adult chickens, but chicks? Bring ’em on! I love ’em before they get their feathers, when they’re all downy and warm and soft and they have those sweet little cheeps and peeps and you can hold one in your hands and rub its sweet fluffiness against your cheek . . .
When I say I’m a baby freak, I mean I’m a cross-species baby freak. I just love babies.
The garden plans will have to wait till we get a little bit of dry weather and a free afternoon to work in the yard. And the chicks will have to wait until we get the coop from my uncle. But getting the rabbit and taking a trip to the feed store got me a little more excited about this foray into self-sufficiency.
I think I’ll have to take more trips to the feed store just to keep myself excited about all of this. It does wonders for my soul.