Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Auction Action

Do you go to the auction? You should!  Around here there are auctions for just about everything - estates, farm equipment, the weekly "junk" auction, and best of all... the farm auctions.

I have to drive a bit to get to the bigger auctions but it's so much fun to go that it's totally worth it. The first couple of times I went I had no idea what I was doing and was really nervous.  Generally I talk with my hands so I was afraid I'd end up buying something without meaning to - and I know people who've done this! 

But really the worst thing that's ever happened was that when I bought our guineas I unknowingly was bidding against the guy who brought them. He was trying to run the price up - but heck I would have paid more for them if he would have just put them on Craigslist.

So what do you do at the auction? Well, if you are nervous just go and check it out. Put your hands in your pockets and stand the in back and watch what happens. What you'll find is a lot of people having fun and lots of great deals.

When you are ready to get in the game, go over to the office or check in table and get a number. You'll have to give ID and then they'll hand you a piece of paper (usually) with a number so they can keep track of your purchases. That number can sometimes be used over and over. I have the same one from last year. Some folks get all fancy and will make paddles with their numbers clearly printed on them, or you'll see some of the old timers put their numbers in their shirt pocket so it looks like a name badge. I just keep mine in my checkbook and hold it in my hand when I'm bidding.

Usually you can walk around before the sale and check out the goods. Many times items will be sold in "lots" or groups of items from the same seller. Or they will be grouped by type of item.

Then go and stand where you can see - and the auctioneer can see you. Sometimes you can find a place to sit down or even bring your own chair. When the items come up the auctioneer will start the bidding based on the previous sale prices or even his best guess. And yeah - they do the fast talkin' thing which I think is really fun. However sometimes it's hard to keep up.

When you want to bid just raise your hand - and look at the auctioneer so he can see you aren't just talking with your hands. Watch the other folks and their styles - some of them are really fun. Sometimes it's just a nod or some folks use a complicated series of hand gestures. If the auctioneer doesn't see you then you can waive your hand a little more or even yell out "here!"

Sometimes the auctioneer has a helper and that helper will keep the excitement going and randomly yell out "hey!" or "here we go!" - that's how I get suckered in.

If the price gets out of your comfort zone then just stop raising your hand. You can also kind of shake your head if the auctioneer looks at you to see if you are continuing. Some folks make other hands signals like a movie director will motion "cut" to indicated they are done bidding and the price is too high.

The price is determined by the last person willing to pay the "called" price. The auctioneer will say "SOLD! To bidder number 457" and sometimes will ask "How many do you want?" Sometimes you can buy for instance, 4 of something in that lot. Or just one. Sometimes before they start the auctioneer will say "You have to take at least 2" so be careful - even if you want one basket of green beans to you need to make sure they are selling them individually. Or if there are 6 baskets of beans in that lot you can take all six!

At that point if there are still more of the item that was just sold the auctioneer will ask the "back up bidder" - that's the person who lost out on that last price - if they want to take that sale price for the remaining items. So if I got 3 baskets of green beans for $10 each and your last price was $9.50 the auctioneer will ask you as the "back up bidder" if you want the last 2 baskets of green beans for the winning price of $10. You can say yes if you want them.

Or you can say no and try your luck with the next lot of beans.

Some people go right up and pick out their purchased items but a lot of times the items are taken to a holding area where you can collect them later. You will have to go and pay for your items, get a receipt, and then away you go with your beans, or pie, or roosters.  It's a lot of fun.

The great thing about the auction is that you never know what you'll find - or what the prices will be. These things are determined by what the sellers bring and who else wants those things. So if everyone wants beans and not very many sellers brought them the prices will be high. If there are 40 baskets of beans and it's near the end of the season - well you might just find yourself a deal!

What kind of things are for sale? Almost anything... livestock, hay, straw, firewood, baked goods, produce, crafts, maple syrup, grains.. you name it.

Can you bring things to sell? Sure! Check with the sale manager. Sometimes they have rules about what you can and cannot bring. There are also rules about how items are packaged. Usually you'll have to sign some kind of sales ticket/contract that states that the auction will sell the items and you get the sale price as it's called. Sometimes you might need to have insurance or a license to sell items. For instance in my state you only sell certain canned goods without a license. Baked goods can be sold but they need to be labeled in a certain way. Some livestock need specific tags. So be sure you know what is required. The items will be sold and depending on the sale price you might get a credit to the auction, cash, or a check sent to you the next week. The auction takes a percentage of the sale price.

Where do you find a local auction? Check out craigslist, the local/state agriculture paper (we have The Farm and Dairy), or check with your feedstore. Some auctions have good websites where you can find the sale results.

So what do you think, are you ready for some auction action? Sold! Now run right out and give it a go - you never know what you might find!

Happy Monday everyone!


buddeshepherd said...

Fifteen years ago, when I was happy and optimistic, I used to love to go to auctions. Especially farm equipment auctions. This is where I got to see the strange old bachelor farmers bid on odd junk. And there was always the odd junk. Stuff that you wondered how it survived all those years. Stuff that you were tempted to buy. And sometimes did. And the deals, we once bought a $2,000 corn head for the silage chopper for $150 because no one knew what it was.
Now that there are no small farms and the weird old farmers have died, I stay home.

Autumn said...

If you're in Amish country, keep on the lookout for Amish auctions. They've got everything... from junk to quilts and back again! With Amish auctions, keep an eye out for night-before dinners, which you can preview the auction and get a good meal.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Budd.. i still got my sunny optimism. ;-)

Autumn... night before dinner? WOW I need to get in on that!

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