Monday, April 18, 2011

New neighbors and fresh eggs

After our refrigerator went out with the storm we had a few weeks ago, I'd been meaning to stop and pick up farm fresh eggs from a house down the street. They always had a sign outside advertising what was available: lambs, eggs, or hay-- and right now they had fresh eggs to sell.

The sign listed a phone number but I decided to stop and knock on the door to see if anyone was at home. We pulled up in the long driveway as cows greeted us, lazily munching spring grass and sleeping with their calves curled up close by. An old border collie ran out to greet us and we parked next to the garage where we could gaze down at a flock of chickens roaming in a field outside a large red barn.

I opened a broken screen door slightly and knocked gently on the old red door before taking a step back. Almost immediately footsteps could be heard hastily coming near in a loud, determined stride. A middle-aged farmer appeared and gave me a hard once-over look. "Can I help you?" he nearly growled. I explained that I didn't have the phone number but wondered if I might be able to pick up some eggs, gesturing towards his sign. His expression didn't change. "I'm not usually home but I have a funeral to go to," he paused for a moment... "Go around to the garage." With that he shut the door.

I went back to where I'd parked and entered through an open door where he was already waiting. "It's a self-serve operation," he explained. "Eggs are in here in the fridge, prices are listed on the door, egg cartons go over there when you come back-- put the money in this bucket." He looked at me hard again. "We've had a lot of stealing going on around here so we don't leave a lot of change.... Oh, and DON'T come after dark 'cause I don't know what you're up to." I promised not to, wondering why anyone would come calling after dark at such a house anyway. Anyone who dared would likely meet the barrel of a shotgun.

I thanked the farmer, paying him for 2 dozen eggs-- a steal at only $1.75 per carton for a medium size order.

As we drove away, I shook my head at the unusual characters you meet in the South. I'm excited to find fresh eggs for sale that are close to home, but have to admit I'm also a little glad that next time I'll be serving myself.

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