Much of my adult life has been spent contemplating urban vs. rural living options. I kind of want a farm on bus line within walking distance of places to eat and shop. And yes, I know it does not work that way, at least on large scale.

Today my lunch hour errand was a trip to the feed store. South Valley Mercantile is a 10 minute drive from my office downtown. So I left at lunch, drove down Broadway, turned on to Rio Bravo and there I was. I needed a bale of straw and bale grass hay for our rabbits and guinea pigs.
I love the way the feed store smells, grain, hay, the leathery smell of boots and saddles, fly strips. I paid for my hay and straw. I read the “for sale” notices in case there was something good. I am somewhat embarrassed that I am buying this hay for my small critters instead of a horse or goat. But maybe the urban farmer is good thing for the traditional feed store.

I backed my mini-van up to the hay stack and the guys, (one wearing a vintage Lynard Skynard shirt that my oldest kid would squealed about) loaded the bales into the back of the van. I put down an old blanket, but the guys still looked skeptical about my vehicle. I drove home and smelled the good, summery, green smell of hay and the clean straw.

In spite of the wonderful smell, the trip is a little sad. The hay I bought is from Idaho, not here and the shopping center that houses the feed store has a big “for lease” sign up. I wonder if the feed store will fade away as the valley becomes more built up and there are fewer people with livestock.

But right now I know that at the end of day I will leave my stuffy office with the windows that don’t open and I will go home. I will muck out the rabbit pen and the guinea pig pen, spread the dirty bedding on the flower garden or in the compost. I will give the animals fresh hay and straw and enjoy my tiny bit of farm.

Views: 20

Comment by Jaime Ponce de Leon on August 27, 2009 at 7:01pm
Oh Hay.
Comment by Don Brown on August 28, 2009 at 7:08pm
I know the smell of that store -- and of urban farming. I had chickens for several years while I lived North Valley and Nob Hill. I'd back my VW beetle into the loading dock and take the hay, feed and whatever else I might need for them. I gave up chickens after my whole slew was slaughtered by raccoons in Ridgecrest (no joke). Now, I have no chickens, and I miss those girls. They gave great egg!
Comment by cc on August 28, 2009 at 10:33pm
Great post, Mombat - so many things juxtaposed in our lives - you painted yours well here.
Comment by Laura on August 28, 2009 at 10:44pm
Awww, I love that scent, too. Thanks for the reminder. Hay scent comes in second only to Krispy Kreme donut scent. Sometimes I stop in at feed stores and wander around just to take in the scents, even though I don't need anything. I even used to volunteer at stables because I loved the smell of hay, horses, and saddles.
Comment by Emily on August 31, 2009 at 7:56am
I doubt the Merc. is going anywhere soon... the valley is attracting more horse people as the North Valley becomes too expensive and un-friendly to equines. There's always someone in there buying something--it's a thriving little enterprise, so fear not! (heck, with three horses and two goats I practically support the place myself). And that store next door? I can't actually remember anything ever being in there. It's been vacant for at least three years. Greg, the Merc's owner, says it's such a mess inside that potential leasees are immediately turned off. He actually considered leasing it for expansion but decided not to.

If you really want to buy local, there are plenty of farmers around growing hay. Jim Roberts, down at Coors south of Rio Bravo, sells grass hay and you can drive right through the field to get to the haystack.
Comment by mombat on August 31, 2009 at 9:54am
Thanks Emily,
My parents have goats, sheep and cows and I often grab hay from them if they have extra small bales. Lately they have been getting the big bales or an alfalfa mix which is too rich for my little guys.My dad does buy from Jim Roberts, as well as other farmers.
What makes me laugh is that when the piggies and bunnies are next to the compressed bales it is the same proportion as the goats and cows next to the big bales.
I have noticed that there seems to be more new horse property in the valley. I just hope we keep seeing livestock as an asset and not nuisance.
Comment by Barelas Babe on August 31, 2009 at 8:59pm
Great post, Mombat! I love the urban/country interface of this city - you've captured it so well here!


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