Every couple of months I stop at the Summerfield Feed Mill to pick up flax seed, which goes in Mystic’s grain along with MSM to keep his joints supple. Pulling into the feed store parking lot takes me back to an earlier era—one that I don’t even remember, except through postcards and old Sears Roebuck catalogs. If you cup your hands around your eyes, blocking out modern vehicles and power lines, you could be time traveling back to 1952.
Clearly this is not a corporate-owned business or a big box store. It’s been in the family for decades, without a lot of updating along the way. The interior is dark and dusty, with feed bags scattered in uncategorized piles. One lengthy wall is devoted entirely to rakes. When I ask for ten pounds of flax seed, a rumpled gray-haired man says, “I remember you: you’re the flax lady with the horse. He must not eat a lot because you don’t come by here much.”
He scoops flax from an unmarked grain sack onto a rusty hanging scale, then tips the contents into a paper grocery bag. Ten dollars. At the health food store, a pound of flax seed costs five dollars. I pay by credit card—surprisingly, the store accepts plastic—and pause on the porch to admire a trampoline-size squash in the back of a pickup truck.
A couple of grizzled men in baseball caps lounge by the truck, looking like they have all day to talk about the squash’s ample qualities.
I stroll toward them, my bag of flax tucked under my arm. “How big?”
“Nine hundred and six pounds,” says a woman in a peach-colored top. She sounds justifiably proud.
There are further mysteries to contemplate: How did they get the squash in the truck? What will they do with it? How did it get so big?
But I need to move along to Flintrock Farm, Mystic, and his well-oiled senior joints. The mystery of the giant squash will become part of the considerable mystique of the Summerfield Feed Mill, which could be a figment of the Coen brothers’ imagination. But it’s for real. Go see for yourself, and pick up a rake while you’re there. (Summerfield Feed Mill, 7210 Summerfield Road, Summerfield, NC, 336-643-4776).