Our Rural Roots

Crazy for Auctions

(Jennifer Campbell)

The first auction I vividly remember attending was a bull sale with my dad. He kept telling me to sit still, that any movement could be interpreted as a bid. All I could think was, I'm 10 -- how could scratching my nose make an auctioneer think I was bidding? Finally, Dad looked at me and said, "OK, this is the bull I want. You do the bidding."

Some call the auction chant bid calling, the auction cry or the cattle rattle. I call it mesmerizing. The rhythmic repetition of numbers and words pull me in, and before long, the auctioneer's pattern has me entranced.

It can also be monetarily frustrating. Going once, going twice -- I know that more than once I've upped my own bid because I got caught up in the events.

The items at a farm auction display an endless array of possibilities. Someone else's used junk can quickly become another person's prospective project. The buckets of used bolts and wagons full of shop and barn finds hold endless potential at an auction. I once wanted to buy a portable chicken coop. I don't have chickens or even want chickens.

Trying to keep up with the discreet, stealthy bidders can trip me up, too. The buyers who barely nod their heads or place a finger beside their nose always leave me asking, "Who made that last bid?" I nudge my husband for the answer, and he invariably replies: "That guy in the Carhartt jacket," to which I look about, and all I see is a sea of duck brown.

Auctions are a unique rite of passage. The sights and sounds never fail to spike the adrenaline. A bid card in hand is power -- whether I buy anything or not. And, the auctioneer's song of "Hey, alright, here we go ..." echoes long after I hear the word "sold."


-- Jennifer (Jent) Campbell occasionally wins a bid and hauls stuff home to her Indiana family farm. She also writes a blog called The Farmwife Feeds (https://farmwifefeeds.com/…). Follow her on Twitter @plowwife and on the podcast @girlstalkag