Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Endless Uses of the Feed Bag

It was time for me to restock the feed for our crew.  I went to where I purchase feed,  gave them the order and they loaded it in my van.  I gave up on the big box store because they do not think anyone needs help with a 50 pound bag of grain.  I am not complaining because most people just accept the fact and load their own feed.  I found out the smaller independents charge less, have a better selection and offer a kind service.  I love to drive 25 miles to the closest big box store for scratch or oyster shell and find out the next shipment will be in next week and there is nothing on the shelf.  I made the trip twice and decided to do something different.  I found someone 4 miles from my home who sells grain from their farm.  They load the feed, smile and say "thank you."  Reminds me of days gone by.

Momma would make a list for what she needed from the feed store and contact them.  She put in her order. When I was small, feed was sold in 100 pound bags.  I can hear her now.  "1 bag of pig mash, 1 bag of chicken mash, 1 scratch." With cows and horses there was grain and corn ordered for them also.  Then Momma would start to explain and question the voice at the other end.  "Do you have the border print bags with the large red flowers on the white back ground, I am using those for my new kitchen curtains? Or is the blue bag with little bunches of flowers back in stock?  Yes, Bootsie needs an Easter dress and I thought this would be nice, I have 2 but I want to be sure there is enough."

The delivery truck would be coming our way in a few days.  When it arrived everyone went out to see the  feed bags.  We would look to see if there was printed bags we had not seen before and if we liked any, we would add these to the list of what we would like to have.  Sometimes,  we were able to go to the feed store to place the order and pick out the feed bags of our choice.  Momma's sister had the farm next to us and she would share feed bags with Momma.  They were trading back and forth so all of the girls could get a new outfit or decorations for the house.  Momma made all of our underwear from the white bags, kitchen towels and sheets for the beds.

Burlap was used for corn and we used these bags for lots of things.  The dog bed in the winter was lined with the burlap bags.  Curtains on the windows of the chicken house.  They were used to carry lots of things from one farm to another.

When we finished exclaiming excitement over the new bags or sadness because there were no new prints we had not seen before, the driver would unload our feed and put some in the barn, some in the feed house until it was all put away.  If some of the barrels were empty he would open the bags and fill the barrel.

Not only did we use the bags, every inch of the string which was used to sew the bags closed was saved.  Momma had a drawer she put the string in and when there was nothing else to do someone would make a string ball.  We used this string for everything. A cut finger would be wrapped with a cotton cloth and tied with string.  The spice bags for the pickles were tied with string.

Today, I see for sale shopping bags made from the feed bags.  Some of you purchasing these bags are the children and grandchildren of the people who made fun of my cousins and me for having to wear meal bag clothes.  I was proud of my clothes and my most beautiful dress was made by my Aunt from meal bags.  Yes, I too have these new shopping bags, I have repurposed my feed bags.  Times may have changed but people's desires to created  something useful from a feed bag warms my heart.  Maybe some of us are a lot closer to the roots of our grandparents than we ever thought.

                 Grab my shopping bags,
                              off to the mall, maybe I will see someone I know.
                                             They will want a sunflower seed bag just like mine.

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