Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Trip to the Country


        In our quest to live more self sufficiently, we try to provide whatever grasses are needed for our horses, alpacas and sheep.  Much of the year in this climate, there is enough grass on our own farm to graze upon.  In Winter though, we have to buy a fair amount of hay to supplement livestock food.  Whenever possible, we try to buy our hay from local sources. Not only does this help our neighbors, but it's often less expensive in terms of our trucking it to the farm. Last year however, a lot of local farmers didn't plant hay. Many of them planted corn or other crops.  Over the Winter, our sources of quality hay disappeared, and we consumed the hay we'd stored more quickly than we had anticipated.

                The solution was to travel to another rural part of the state where a particular farmer grows and stores a wide variety of grasses and hays for different types of animals.  My husband and I traveled down one weekend, and returned with almost fifty bails. As the trip began,t I thought of the journey as a real chore, until I began to see unfamiliar countryside.  Normally when I travel, I am the one driving, but this time, I was free to notice all of the farm houses, barns, rolling green grasslands.   Every ten miles or so, there was a little country store often with food, a few groceries, drinks and sometimes gasoline or diesel fuel.  The traveling went more quickly than I had anticipated.  About ten minutes before we arrived at the large farm with the hay, we passed through a small Southern town.   A few century homes, a hardware store which also sold groceries and had a butcher shop, and an animal feed store were on one side of the road.   A small diner, a pharmacy, and a consignment shop were on the other. There was also a charming county courthouse building. I really wanted to stop and look at these on the way back, but there was no parking for as fully loaded a rig as we would then have. I resolved that sometime, I would make the long trip during the week to explore the town.

                This week, we have had a couple of days that felt quite a bit like Spring, and so yesterday, the small town and surroundings were on my mind.  I took two relatives with me, and we began the trip that morning.   Most of the places I go these days are accessible by an interstate highway.  This town is not. The only way to get here is through one or two different paths on winding country roads through farm country.  This time, driving, I could not notice as many things as I had before, but it was still a lovely drive.   We arrived just before lunch.  We looked through the consignment shop first.  It was fairly small but the two relatives I'd brought with me found things they really wanted at reasonable prices.  One found some great toys and the other found some nice video games and dvds all at fair prices.   Then, we stopped at the hardware store that had the butcher's shop, and found that they also sold reasonable priced ammunition of unusual types.  Then, I stopped at the local animal feed store.  I found something I had been seeking for awhile.  I bought a couple more implements to go in my farrier kit.  Although I am not a farrier, it's nice to have a couple of the tools they use in order to keep the horses hooves neat between farrier visits.  Although I could have bought such implements online, I got a chance to look at them, hold them, and pay much less for them. I also found some unusual welding supplies priced some time ago that will please one of my sons, the sculptor.

                  Later, we decided to travel East to a neighboring county where we knew of a restaurant where we agreed that we would all like to eat.  Afterward, we stopped at a brand new pawn shop which had a great deal of lovely merchandise of all kinds.  We made the trip, ate there, and returned to our own farm using different farm roads than our journey out there.

                  As you work toward more self sufficiency don't forget to take days off in order to recharge. If you can incorporate such days with errands you need to do anyway, then it's all the better.  Don't forget that most of us have sleepy little bergs wherever we live and that often there are wonderful opportunities to purchase things we need at fair prices. Use this time to set up new supply lines. You help others as well as yourself.  Stop and smell the roses.  Buy some of the items you need online. Buy fruits and vegetables from neighbors or friends when you can.  Be open to buying items you need at new places.  Don't let prepping and the other demands of life keep you from truly enjoying your life, your family and friends.