RUFFIN-IT: TALKING TO THE EGG MAN AT THE FEEDSTORE
Y’all know that off and on over the years I’ve ventured off onto the subject of eggs and pretty much whipped the subject to a frenzy, inclined as I am not to let sleeping dogs or anything else lie around without giving it a little kick to see if can I rouse it.
Here I am back on eggs again, not because I particularly wanted to write about them this week, but I bumped into a guy at a local feedstore and fell into a conversation that I felt compared to share with you.
As you probably know, most of our feedstores carry fresh eggs brought in by customers who have found themselves with so many on hand that they can’t use them up or foist them off on family fast enough to keep them from going bad (eggs, not family, since you don’t have much control over family–they can go bad no matter what you do). Anyone who’s smelled one knows how far along in the odor spectrum the, uh, rotten egg falls.
Tinny rate, I was nosing around to see whether they had any seed potatoes left, not that I’m likely to be planting any SINCE I’M A CRIPPLE. (Did I mention that? If and when I get to the point that I can walk right again, I can’t use the word cripple to describe my condition, for a couple of reasons.) You never know about miracles these days . . . .
Well, I looked over to where the fresh eggs are kept (in an old refrigerator or two in most feedstores) and saw this overalled fellow bending over messing around with the egg cartons, only he appeared to be rearranging them instead of fetching out a couple, so I just rollated over and axed him how he was and how the egg situation looked. You know, just being friendly.
He said, “Fine and fine.”
“Checkin’ out them eggs?” See, I like the vernacular: It puts a guy in overalls at ease.
“Layin’ some,” he said.
“Puttin’ in a few cartons.”
This is where the real conversation began. I just naturally enough asked whether the eggs were from free-range chickens.
He thought about his response a few seconds and then took an egg out of one of the cartons. It was large, brown, and speckled, like his hand.
“This here look like a store-bought egg to you?”
“Might. You can’t tell nothing about a egg from its cover.”
“My chickens is free-range, got secure, private roosts. Got their own pen to run around in during the daylight hours.”
“So they eat bugs and worms and grass . . .”
“Yep, everthang they sposter eat to be called free-range.”
“Are they certified free-range?”
“Certified by me.”
At that he stood up straight and squared his shoulders, fixed his eyes on me.
“But I rekkin that ain’t enough for you, is in? What you sposter be anyhow, scootin’ around with that fancy walker with wheels? You a egg inspector?”
I slammed the handles hard. “This here is a rollator, not a walker, which is why it has wheels. It rolls, it don’t walk.” Again, my grammar can drop three levels in a heartbeat. “And I ain’t no kind of inspector. I just want to know about eggs I buy before I go and buy’m.”
“At’s fair enough. You interested enough to drive out to my place and check out my chickens, bein’ as yer so interested in their eggs?”
I looked at my watch and made a decision.
“Yeah. Give me a chance to load the rollator in my truck, and I’ll be right behind you.”
“At’s fine. I’ll be in that big gray Dodge Ram diesel out there by the feed ramp. You’ll hear me before you before you see me.”
I nodded. “OK, It’ll take me a few minutes to get ready, but I’ll be right behind you.”
[Next week I visit the Chicken Ranch.]