I grew up in the small rural farm community that I now live in. I moved away to attend college and lived in that same college town for 14 years. I LOVED living in a college town. I loved the ethnic diversity, the cultural opportunities, the vibrancy and energy..............so many things. I loved sitting in a coffee shop and being able to hear people speak in different languages and to eavesdrop on "smart" conversations about topics and concepts I didn't understand. And sometimes I really miss that atmosphere. There are times when I wish we lived in a larger community and, especially, in a college town again. With that said, today I want to write about a few things that happened to me recently that illustrate how great it is to live in a small town. I am, after all, a country girl at heart.
First of all, you know if you've been reading for a while that we are soon to be chicken farmers. We have been turning a shed into the chicken palace of the century (at least people are teasing me that it's the fanciest coop they've ever seen). And I've become a little Backyard Chickens fanatic, browsing the forum daily for ideas and advice about building a coop and raising chickens. One piece of advice I've taken from the forum is to put vinyl flooring in the coop to facilitate cleaning up the chicken poop. So I've been on the lookout for a remnant piece to put in. We are having new tile put in our basement this summer and the man who is installing it just happens to be someone I was in an honor band with in high school. After having no luck at Home Depot or Menards in finding a vinyl remnant, I asked this guy if he had a remnant that I could purchase from him. Not only did he have one, he gave it to me for free. I offered to pay, but he wouldn't take money for it. Perhaps that would happen in a city, but it is one example of the generosity that you often find in a small town.
The next story of generosity also involves my chicken project. I have been on the lookout for a product called diatomaceous earth (or DE) to use in the coop. Most people on the Backyard Chickens forum swear by this product and sprinkle it over the bedding inside the coop to keep down the odor and to repel flies. In fact, everyone who uses it says that their chicken coops are virtually ODORLESS! Well, I had chickens growing up and let's just say, our coops were far from odorless. So I was really committed to trying to find this product for my chicken coop. However, I have been trying for weeks to find it locally. Our local feed store has something with this ingredient, but not in a form that is safe for animals. Tractor Supply and Orscheln's hadn't heard of it. I literally went through the yellow pages and called every farm supply store in an hour's radius and none of them had even heard of DE except for one. This feed store is in a town about an hour away from me. They had one bag in stock. I asked if they would hold it for me until I could drive over and get it. That is when the lady on the phone offered to bring it to me last night since she was heading to the airport for a flight out the next morning (I live only about 30 minutes from the airport, on her way). I would never have asked someone to do that for me and I told her she really didn't need to, that I could drive to get it. She insisted it was no trouble at all and last night I met her at our local McDonald's which is right off the highway and she loaded the 40 pound bag of DE into the trunk of my car, and I gave her my check and an extra $5 cash for her trouble. She didn't want to take the money saying that I would do the same for someone else. I told her to take it and buy herself a drink on her vacation (she's flying to Mexico City!). So..........there you have it. Small town service with a smile. I am her customer for life. She made sure to tell me to let her know if I need anything else for the chickens and offered to mail me a catalog. It turns out this feed store in a tiny little rural town has more products and variety than most "big box" farm stores. You just never know. I was so impressed with her friendliness and generosity. And as I drove home with my 40 pound bag of DE resting comfortably in the my trunk, I felt happy to be living in a small town where people willingly go out of their way to help their neighbors.