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TITLE: The Auction Sale
By Jim Oates

This was just a fun piece to write.
As always at this time of year, a farmer’s thoughts seem to turn to sales, auction sales that is. The farm papers have several to choose from, both near and far. The prospect of going to a sale is a welcome respite from the last couple months of splitting wood for the old shop stove and skinned knuckles received while doing regular maintenance on machinery that will be used as soon as the weather breaks.

There was a bit of frost early this morning but the sun has turned it into a memory and it promises to be a clear day even though there is a chill in the air, a great day for a sale.

We wanted to get an early start; hopefully we will be able to park close to the sale site so that it won’t be too far to walk. Wouldn’t you know it; there is always someone who gets up earlier than you. There is a line of pickups, cars and a couple tractors with trailers parked along the concession road all the way to the corner.

As we walk onto the farm property we see several neat rows of machinery over in the pasture field. Besides the owner’s equipment, several pieces have been brought in to be sold on consignment. There are triple Ks, discs, plows, levelers, planters and just about anything in the line of farm machinery anyone would want.
You can always recognize the serious buyers as they examine each piece of equipment, checking for wear of disc blades or shovels and bearings and the overall appearance. The not so serious are there to just take in the festivities.

It is a carnival atmosphere; there are people from all walks of life, mostly farmers but also town and city people. Unsupervised kids are climbing on tractors, having the time of their lives. You can usually tell who is who by their dress. There is the guy who just walked out of his barn and still has his manure coated boots and coveralls on and two young fellows in their camouflage hunting garb. They are probably hoping to go home with the ATV that is in the lineup of machinery. There is the neighbour who just walked over across the field, wearing a tattered mackinaw to protect him from the chill. His unkempt grey beard and unruly hair protruding from under his old felt hat look as if they hadn’t had a trim since the cold weather set in.

A local church group has set up a table and is doing a brisk business as people stop to get a hot cup of coffee to chase away the chill both from hands and belly. They also have hot dogs, ham burgs and pop.

The Auctioneer makes his way up and down the rows of equipment. A microphone hangs about his neck and with a stick in his hand he points out the next piece to be sold. His constant sing-song chatter calls for an opening bid, then urges the buyers to up their bid another five or ten dollars. There is a lull in the bidding and the Auctioneer, knowing many of the regular auction goers, points his stick singling out someone in the crowd, calling a name and telling the prospective buyer that he could really use this one. This usually brings a laugh from the crowd and the bidding resumes.

With all the big stuff sold, the Auctioneer climbs up on the old hay wagon loaded with garden tools, farm primitives and bric-a-brac also referred to as jewelry. Farm primitives are popular as lawn and yard ornaments and usually sell well. Eager to assist the Auctioneer, one of the local lads holds up items such as well worn shovels, hoes and rakes for those in the back to see. This part of the auction is usually filled with excitement as people crowd in close to rummage through boxes of worthless items, hoping to find hidden treasure in a box, making it all worth while.

A lady, not really dressed for the occasion, with mud on shoes that were not meant to be worn off city sidewalks, elbows her way through the crowd. She seems to know just what she is looking for. She makes her way to the wagon to have a closer look. She joins in on the bidding when a certain box is held up; obviously she had rummaged through it previously. Holding her auction number high, she is determined to get it at any cost as she counter offers each bid.

After what seems a an extra long back and forth bidding battle, finally the Auctioneer, pointing his stick says, “Sold to the lady in the red hat.” Proudly she receives the box as it is handed down to her. I don’t know what is in the box but I am pleased to see that she is able to get it.

There were so many things sold today, some things sold at give away prices and others, perhaps, a little too much. All in all, most people go away happy. The only things I bought were a hot coffee and a hamburg but I’m going home with a pocket full of memories.
It has been a good day.
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