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.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How to take livestock to the auction...and update on my sale!

Hey who wants to go to the livestock auction? If you have made the choice to thin the herd then get packed up and head out to the Mt. Hope Livestock Auction tomorrow!

I just put the goats in my car. Yes I did. See how I used the wire crate to keep the 
goats from getting in the front seat with me? This worked great.

I feel better than ever about taking most of the goats to the Mt. Hope livestock auction. Not only is my barnyard nice and calm.... I already got my check! They pay super fast and wow was I glad. Since someone is going to ask (and it's not a secret) I got a check for $357!  I think that is terrific. This is the total amount of my big winnings after they take out the commission fee (about $30). So, yep! It was worth it to drive all the way up there.

Would I have gotten a better price if I had sold directly to someone? I don't know. But it was worth it to get rid of them all in one fell swoop - and I did not have to deal with any Craigslist weirdos. So that was worth it to me. Any twinge of regret has been washed away and I'm doing my victory dance for sure.  

So how do you take livestock to the auction? Let's do a quick step by step.

The first thing is that you have to make the decision. Thanks to everyone for their comments on yesterday's post - both here on the blog and also on 'the facebook.' We all have had to decide to do what was best for the farm and it was really wonderful to hear everyone's stories. I think sometimes we are hesitant to talk about hard things...but we really are all in this together and we all have the same struggles. So thanks, everyone, for sharing!

Then you just need to make a plan and pull the trigger. If you are like me sometimes small steps are easier - just so you can check things out. So I was glad that I took a few goats last fall. I knew what to expect and was comfortable doing this alone. But I also had to factor in drive time and gas money to get up there...and time off the farm. So I just had to change around my work schedule.

But if you have large stock... or lots of little stock... you might be tempted to try and arrange professional transport or rent a trailer or something.  Not me. Nope. I figured it was best to just rip the bandaid off and use what I had - so  I just put those goats in the back of my car. Yep! In they went.

Now for sure this could be tricky business. I had a long drive so I had to make sure I didn't have to make a lot of stops. And I needed to make sure the goats wouldn't totally ruin the inside of the car. Or end up in the front seat with me.

To best secure this livestock load we had to first put all the seats down in the car (or if you had a swagger wagon I guess you could take the seats out) and then line the back with a tarp. Someone told me once that goats won't pee in your car. Lies. Goats will very happily poop all over and then pee everywhere. So put a tarp down then packed it full of straw to keep the mess under control.

Next I used the biggest dog crate we had and positioned it behind the front seats to form a sort of gate to keep the goats in the back. I put the little goats in the crate and went and got Dahli and Daisy. They mostly hopped right in. Then I drove fast up to Mt. Hope.

It's beautiful to drive around  - be sure to check things out!

The thing about going up to Amish country is that it is a warrens den full of roads. None of them are straight so be sure to take or print a map AND get your GPS. Head directly for Mrs. Yoder's Kitchen. That's not where you are going first but it's easily findable and you'll end up there anyway. The auction grounds are across the street.

I approach the auction from 241 and there is a big, well marked entrance to the auction on that road. However, if you go to the intersection and turn right/south on 77 you will find an even better, easier entrance.

Take this entrance and follow to the right along the fence. On your left will be the big white barns. After the second barn you'll see where people are backing in and unloading. You'll see some folks up on the loading dock - they will wave you in. Or just see if there is a empty spot and back in. Ask to make sure you can load out there. There are other entrances for bunnies and such. I'm not sure if you can load out cows there or not. So be sure to ask. They will be happy to direct you to the right spot.

Now the excitement really starts to build.

An Amish man - and probably a helper - will unload your small stock. They will do it for you so it's no problem. It's a little unnerving to see your goats disappear around the corner but don't worry, someone is tagging them. These folks do a ton of trade and they have their systems worked out perfectly.

As your stock is being loaded out the guy on the dock will take your name, address, and phone number. He'll rip off a receipt and give you a copy. Then that's it.

That's it?

Yep! Isn't that fun and easy?

 The parking lot at Mrs. Yoders.

If you've timed it right head over to Mrs. Yoder's and commence to eat your body's weight in chicken. The chicken buffet opens at 11am. Sure they'll ask if you want bread but just wave them off and storm the buffet like you mean it. Eat every chicken in that room. I'm fairly certain that they have my picture plastered up somewhere in the back so when the servers see me they automatically start crying over their lost profits because they know I'm not there to play. And then they go and make more chicken.

Or you can walk around the flea market and the sale barns and check out the auction action.   The Mt. Hope auction and sale barn is an amazing sight to behold. It is a parade of humanity like you've never seen before. You can buy anything there. Tools, guns, antiques, bananas.... I'm telling you they have it all.

I stopped at a house that had a shop on the back. The sign said fried pies. I got all of them.

Be sure to give yourself time to drive around and see some of the other sights while you are in the neighborhood. You can go to Lehman's for all kinds of everything, or some of the roadside produce stands where you might see amazing sights, or one of my favorites... Heinis Cheese Chalets.

Believe me, after a day at the auction you'll go home full of chicken and counting all your big winning to come. It's a great day for sure.

So now that you know where to go and what to do let's do some questions:

So.. where's this again?
It's the Mt. Hope Auction 
8076 OH-241, Mt Hope, OH 44660
Be sure to check the schedule for their livestock auctions. I went on Wednesday. They have other sales on other days of the week including a horse auction and also a produce auction.

What time should you get there? 
I got there about 9:30 in the am. I probably drove home about 2 or so.... and there was still a line of trailers waiting to load out. The livestock sale starts at 11am. Check this schedule for when to load out and for more details. See also they have a hay auction on the same day.

Are you sure this isn't weird?
Nope. It's not weird at all. Mt. Hope has a great reputation and folks come from all around to buy and sell. They have excellent systems and I'm always amazed at how well everything works. It's way easier than you would imagine.

What or who can I take to the auction?
Right now remember that you cannot sell poultry at the auction! I even went over to the poultry barn to see. All they had was rabbits. I've seen all kinds of livestock in all ages, makes, and models. You can check out the market reports to get an idea of what is selling and how much.

Do you have to do anything to prepare your livestock?
What? Like give them a bath and put bows in their hair? I dunno. I just made sure everyone was reasonably clean and I trimmed their hooves.  *shrugs*

How long does it take to get your check?
I got this last one super quick - just a few days!

But what about.... um... cultural differences?
For who the Amish people? It's OK... really. Folks are just folks no matter what kind of hat they wear. Some people are nervous because they don't understand the culture but... there is nothing to worry about. These Amish people speak regular English and are very friendly. You will hear a kind of German/Deutsch that some folks will talk to each other in but that is OK.

You'll also see a lot of buggies around and on the road. Give the horses some room and be careful when you are driving.  Around town there is a buggy lane on the right side. The distances are short but you won't get anywhere fast. Just relax and enjoy the drive.

When in doubt smile and ask questions. Be respectful. If you are driving around and see a sign with something for sale that you want to buy or you see a shop you'd like to visit then just drive on up. One thing that I can't get used to is that it always looks like everything is closed because there are no lights on.... but since they don't have electricity I probably should not be overly surprised. It just takes a second to adjust to that. If the shops have lighting it is usually minimal. And bring a check book. Sure you can pay for Mrs. Yoders with a bank card but some of the shops only take cash or a check. I wouldn't go up on a Sunday as not much will be open.

Anything else?
Nope. Other than make sure you fill up the tank and expect some long stretches of driving without any kind of services until you get up there. The most direct route for me is not on a main highway. And one time I got lost and ended up seeing a lot of scenic roads....and zero gas stations. Yikes! Other than that - have fun!

Happy Tuesday everyone.. what do you think? Are you going to head out to the Mt. Hope auction? Tomorrow is Wednesday!


Vera said...

Oh wow! Didn't realise that you were in Amish country. Would love to have gone with you.....would love to visit Lehmans and all the other places you mentioned. We don't have such places here in France, not that I know of anyway, but we do have markets, but we do not have Lehmans! Glad you got your goats sorted out. Now you can put your feet up and have a rest!!!

Unknown said...

Ooo Amish country, always wanted to visit there. They make some really nice furniture from what I've seen and filling foods! Now I'm hungry and off to eat!!!

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