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We had French Canadian guests at church yesterday. But I'll get back to that.

Anne and I decided to take the day off on Friday. It was a half-day (an office schedule experiment we started a couple of years ago, that has been a great success-maybe I'll blog about it some time), and we had a half vacation day coming, so we just took the day. We ran some errands in the morning, and then, we pointed the Prius north toward Tryon, where some friends were camped out for the day at an art show | craft show | horse show. You might ask what art, craft, and horses have to do with each other, but if you do it will prove you've never been to Tryon. 'Nuff said.

Anyhow, by the time we got there, our friends were nowhere to be found. But there were some absolutely spectacular show horses, all brushed up and decked out...dressed to impress. They looked fast standing still. And, of course, all the horse people in their riding finery just made the scene ever so elegant. Tryon, you see, is the capital of horse country in the western Carolinas. Where most small towns have a softball field, or some basketball courts, or maybe tennis courts in their city parks, Tryon has stable, an exercise track, and a show their city park!

After enjoying the picturesque equestrian scenery of Tryon, we drove up through Saluda (home of Ward's Store and The Purple Onion), Hendersonville (where you'll find West First Woodfire Pizza and Flight's), to Asheville, where we visited with Anne's parents, grabbed some vegan Indian food at Laughing Seed, and headed home.

Had a quiet Saturday and then headed back to Asheville for church on Sunday, which brings us back to our special guests. Seems, our French Canadian, Quebecau brother and sister (they were a brother and sister, by the way), were organic hay farmers, who specialize in delivering gourmet hay to horse shows, steeple chases, fox hunts, and stuff like that. And it seems they've had a very successful year!

I always thought hay was hay. You know, you plant it like cut it and bail it...horses eat it. But I was wrong. Seems there is hay...and then there is gourmet hay. And people pay enough of a premium for the good stuff that it's profitable to deliver it all the way from Canada. Learn something new every day.

Now, is this a branding issue. Might be. I do not have the expertise to say whether this hay is actually better or not. But clearly, folks in Tryon think it is better. So, we have perceived value. Is this a function of reputation...growing process? Who knows?

These same folks pay a premium for the hay. Is the fact that it costs more a factor in it's being perceived as better? Which came first the price or the perception? Who knows?

Do the horses know the difference? Does it matter? Do horses complain about the price of hay? Don't think so. So, there's that. Very interesting.

Somebody should do a textbook case study on this product. A branded commodity. Like the old rock salt conundrum.

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