Saturday, April 2, 2011

Auction Fever

I like auctions.  In fact, I like auctions far too well.  So much so that I no longer go to them.

Livestock auctions are definitely my favourite.  One of my earliest recollections was going to the South River Cattle Auction with my father.  Actually what I remember more than the auction itself was the trip home.  We stopped and visited one of the farmers who had sold the top priced pen of steers.  I'm not sure if Dad was hoping to buy some stock, or what the purpose of that particular visit was, because we never stopped there again.  Also on the way home, we stopped to visit Marshall Dobson, a friendly old bachelor, who died shortly after this.  What sticks out in my mind was the roll of Maple Leaf bologna, encased in wax, lying on the kitchen table.  I was at best, no more than four.

Anyway, I had caught the auction fever.  For the next number of years I made every effort to get a ride to the cattle sales which were held, an hour or so from home, spring and fall.  Johnny Sands was my first means of transport.  Again I was not in school, so five or younger.  Johnny was a bachelor, who loved to help any of the kids around the area, who had the same interests as he did.  I probably prattled on the whole trip about the cattle.

Once I hit school, I would beg Mom to let me have auction day off.  Then it was a phone call to Johnny, Orma Quinn (whom I blogged about her 80th in January) or Nat Harris, pleading for a ride to the auction.  Usually one of those three consented to drive me there.  I would get so excited that I could hardly sleep the night before.  As soon as we got to the barns, I was off like a shot, and up onto the catwalks perusing the livestock in the pens below. Then I would sit with my driver, carefully filling out the prices for each lot, as the auctioneer banged his gavel. And there was nothing to compare with the hotdogs you could buy at the concession stands for lunch.

Sometimes we had our own livestock at the sale, and I would have to locate each of them, and get the prices for Dad.  By this point in time, Dad was away working for the Ministry of Natural Resources from Sunday to Friday night.

I think that particular sale still runs, although I'm certain greatly reduced in participation, as there are so few cattle left in the country.

When I moved to Eastern Ontario.  I attended the Smiths Falls, and Kingston weekly sales.  I no longer had to wait six months; I could get my fix, every week if I so desired.  Alas, both of these venues have closed and the only sale within driving distance, only operates during the day time when I am at work.

As I remember farm auctions from my childhood.

Modern day farm auction. What better place to people watch!

The other auctions that I loved were the farm dispersal auctions.  These were auctions of farm and household goods when someone died or decided to retire.  They were great social occasions.  All the neighbours would be there, vying for some of the possessions of a former neighbour or friend.  Usually stuff went pretty cheaply, and it was always exciting to see what people had kept stored in their barns and homes.

I recall one time when Dad bought a whole granary of wheat.  We didn't have a truck, but I remember him getting a neighbour to transport it home.  Then he had to have it ground for the cattle to eat.  As I recall it, the wheat was of a vintage, so the cattle were not even particularly impressed, after all Dad's hard work and effort.

As I grew up and acquired a little of my own cash and wheels, I started going to every auction in the country.  Usually I would have to come home with something.  Even into my married life I continued the same trend.  Eventually though it did hit me, that I was becoming an accumulator.  The garages started to fill, with stuff that seemed like a good idea at the moment of purchase, and then quickly lost their lustre once I got them home.

So I no longer attend auctions.  I like to think perhaps I have graduated from Auctions Anonymous. The other thing is that the dealers tend to drive prices sky high on anything that might interest me anymore.

But as I think of it, I've moved on to different auctions now.  Ebay purchases over the past years, have been one of my major credit card expenditures.  And now Kijiji ads must be perused every few days just in case some item has been listed that I cannot live without.

And I guess that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

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