Thursday, March 10, 2011

Feed Store Day

The garden is going in. The garden is going in! After months of dog-earing seed catalogues, sending away for heirloom and organic seeds, and studying seed charts and soil pH mumbo jumbo, the actual planting has begun. So far I have onions, garlic, radishes, spinach, lettuces, broccoli and green peas planted. Everything looks good. (But I don't want to start bragging yet. A garden is nothing if not humbling.)

Yesterday I ventured to the town's Feed Store in search of more seed potatoes. Purple potatoes, baking potatoes, and regular potatoes weren't enough. Actually, my Dad, second generation gardener and Knower Of All Things Gardening, gave me ten dollars and told me to run and buy red potatoes. I did.

The Feed Store here is something from a story book. First off, it's ancient. Its rusty tin roof and creaking wooden steps bid you to an era you only see in movies. I get the feeling sometimes, as I'm climbing the worn steps, that I'll push open the door and, instead of finding old men in overalls cursing Obama and the Economy, I'll find men in coats and tall hats, arguing about President Lincoln and the War.

Once inside the long, slanting building, these are the things you notice first: an enormous black wood stove with a tin pan of peanuts roasting on top. Always. Since I was a girl. The men stand around the stove, shelling peanuts and tossing the shells on the knotted wooden floor. Near the stove, kittens tumble and mew from a basket. I've always wanted one. Since I was a girl.

Horse tack, field corn, chicken feed, dog collars and cattle medicine fill every nook. But along the wall by the door, steps away from the kittens, is what gets me teary eyed: Every Kind of Seed Imaginable. There's pre-packaged seed for (sniff) "town" people and bins of bulk seed for the country folk. The scale by the tower of brown paper sacks groans whenever you weigh your bags. Even if you only have two pounds. Even if it seems the old thing should have accepted her lot in life by now.

I walk the wall, slowly, reading the names of seeds and dreaming. Candy Corn. Louisiana Pink Purple Hulls. Christmas Limas. Big Boy Tomatoes. Red Heart Peppers. Zipper Cream Peas. (Those are my favorite. I bought 4 dollars of "Zippers" as we all call them here. They go for 30 dollars a bushel at market.) And when I get to the seed potatoes, I'm relieved to see nearly 20 potatoes left. RED PONDEROSA is scrawled on the box in pencil. 50 CENTS/POUND. I fill my brown paper sack, weigh it on the groaner, and take my five-plus pounds of good eating and assorted seeds to the counter.

There's a corgi in a dog bed to the left of the register. She's always in the same spot. I have no idea how she gets up there and never ask. She watches you without raising her nose. It used to be appreciated when you'd buy her a Milkbone, but not these days. She doesn't even chase the kittens anymore, I'm told. I shake my head and offer a "bless her heart" as if on cue. The cashier, with her Too Much Lipstick, nods approval.

You pay with cash. Or checks. I can't believe people still write checks, but they do in here. Oh, the Feed Store has a credit card machine, but you get a withering stare whenever you pull out your Bank of America card. Cash is king. Pay, get your change, and pet the kittens on your way out, nodding to the men who nod at you on your way down the stairs.

I got my seed potatoes cut and quartered like you're supposed to do before planting. They're withering now, fanned out on brown paper on the table. But you know, I got to thinking last night: I don't have any good mashing potatoes. Think I'll go back this morning and get the YUKON GOLD- 75 CENTS/POUND.

That and pet the kittens one more time.

21 comments:

Shelley in SC said...

Mmmm, I'm basking in your homey description of the Feed Store!! Thanks for transporting me back in time for a while! Happy Planting!

G said...

You truly paint a picture with your words. Lovely.

Lulu said...

wow such a great discription, i was there in my mind ...
cant wait to see your garden, if you ever take a pic when its in bloom..
take care have a blessed day..

Sue@CountryPleasures said...

I love old feed stores like that! You must have a good size yard to plant all those taters? LOL

Louise said...

and my dear, I HOPE you go home with a kitten... LOVE LOVE LOVE kittens and would give my eye teeth to have one but landlord says NO PETS.. Pooh on him. LOL

Susan said...

Oh what a wonderful picture. Things in our lives that don't change much offer so much strength and hope. Life will continue on and people will bend alittle but rarely break. Hope for the future. Thank you for sharing

Donna said...

Thank you for taking us along with you on your trip to the feed store. I can see the old men, the kittens, the seeds... I can hear the creaking and groaning sounds. I can almost pick the dirt out from under my fingernails from planting.
You are truly blessed.

Patricia said...

Your feed store sounds wonderful! How I wish we had one here. Looking forward to getting my garden in too, but since I'm in the midwest ~ it's gonna be a while! Snow in the forecast for tonight. Happy Planting!

carla said...

My husband makes the best mashed potatoes in the world (and if you're counting calories just don't ask how he does it). If he's using Yukon Gold - well, let's just say that I never order mashed potatoes in restaurants any more because I always compare them and they are found wanting.

When we moved to Keller, Texas in the early 1980s, the feed store was like you described. Really worn bare wood floors that creaked and it was great. Now it's a fancy high dollar lawn mower shop. The one in Grapevine's not too bad though, and right on main street just down from the trendy shops.

Lovely post - I really enjoyed reading it.

P.S. We have a tiny garden; Joe got the onions in, but the potatoes are still in the sack. But your description of those peas has me hankering for a trip to the organic nursery in Decatur.

Shari said...

What G said: you paint a picture with your words. I sat last night reading back through to the beginning of your blog and I was enthralled for hours. You are such an inspiration.

Thank you for sharing your life with us, your readers.

Anonymous said...

I must be old-fashioned -- always pay with check...!

Dena

Lady Farmer said...

Perhaps you should bring home one of those kittens with your Yukon Gold spuds. You've always wanted one. ;~P

rachel said...

Brin I have a gardening question!
You quarter your seed potatoes? Tell me more!
(I am a newbie gardening novice, but when I've planted potatoes before (only once or twice mind) they were whole. Am I doing it wrong?)
And the feed store sounds delicious...kittens and an aging pooch, perfectionary. X

Elenka said...

I think your house needs a little kitten.

Vee said...

Delicious writing...not only do you capture what happened, you capture the sweet "between the lines." It makes me wonder if I were to visit my local feedstore, if I'd find similar things or is it all unique to yours.

Athena said...

Your rental house is allowing you to put in a big veggie garden in the yard?!? Wow, must be nice owners!

Christine said...

What a wonderful, magical place! Your descriptions of everything are so vivid. Makes me wish I could visit such a lovely throwback in time. Looking forward to your garden pictures!

Brin said...

Thanks, y'all. :)

The garden is on family land about 5 miles from my little house. And I would love a kitten... love, love, love a kitten, but it isn't allowed here. :/

Kristie @ Comfy Cozy said...

Don't you just love the smell of the feed store!?!

We recently took out a bunch of trees to make room for a large garden. I am so looking forward to long summer days spent in my little plot of dirt!

Corn in my Coffee-Pot said...

Ooops! You mean your supposed to let them shrivel?

I cut mine and stuck them in the ground the same day. I'm pray,pray, praying for potatoes, now!

Your feed store sounds neat. Ours burned last year. I bought my potatoes from another feed store. Wasn't in there long enough to get that feeling.

as always I enjoy reading.
Pat

Narayan Pillai said...

Gardening thats something I was introduced early on in my life by my uncle and I loved it but don't have the space to do it anymore where I currently live. I hope someday I have my own garden in the countryside. It was a pleasure reading your post it brought back some old memories. Thanks for posting this. Take care and hope you have a great week!