Home Columnist HORACE MCQUEEN: Cheaper in the country

HORACE MCQUEEN: Cheaper in the country


Everything is not always “cheaper in the country”.  Oft times it’s a lot higher! Some folks believe that living in rural areas leads to lower living costs—but not so! Groceries, fuel, and other necessities can be bought “in town” for less than at the rural outposts.

Just take a few minutes sometime to compare sale ads from the major grocery stores. The ads in the larger city papers offer prices often lots less than the same grocery company small town stores. When asked about the reasons for the difference in prices, one grocery store official said their smaller stores cost more to operate than the larger ones.

A couple of examples are significant. Progresso soups were two cans for $3 at the smaller stores—and at the larger stores the soups cost $1 a can. The same grocery chain was selling Hormel black label bacon for $4.49 a pound at their big stores—and at the smaller stores $4.99. Sweet potatoes were 20-cents a pound difference between the large and small stores. But for those of us who are country dwellers, having a grocery store handy for groceries when needed is a time and mile-saver.

Folks with stock tanks or farm ponds can have a ready source of fun by taking care of the fish. Over the winter months, fish still must eat—but less feed is required.

A rule of thumb is to feed the fish a couple times a week—using a floating catfish pellet. Also the water needs to be in a satisfactory ph range—and this can be corrected by addition of agricultural lime every few years or so. Most landowners ask the fertilizer truck driver to make a pass along the edges of the farm pond to cast lime into the water.

Now is also an ideal time to stock—or restock—that farm body of water. Several fingerling fish suppliers make the rounds of our East Texas feed stores often and offer fish of several species and sizes.

Livestock feeding is moving fast on livestock farms. Seems there is plenty of hay available for purchase. But some is just not quality stuff—unfertilized, low feed value and if not barn stored, loss from water damage can be high. Just looking at hay is not a good way to judge feeding value. A hay test, costing a few dollars through Texas A & M or other hay labs, can save many dollars over the winter feeding period.

As we are now officially into the New Year, we are hoping to see 5-600 pound calves at $2 a pound or more by the time selling time arrives. Or, is that just wishful thinking?