Thaddeus’ Ruminations

A farm equipment auction is an event that most people have never had the pleasure of experiencing. These events tend to be for a small niche of people, and the number is only getting smaller.

A case of auction fever

By Thaddeus Barsotti
Published: March, 2007 

There just are not many people who need a tractor, disk, fuel wagon or aluminum sprinkler pipe to get their job done. And, while there are many things that are different about farming conventionally and organically, the common ground between the two is the need for equipment.

Work boots, jeans, plaid shirts, denim jackets and baseball caps are common, too. The boots and jeans never vary much, but the hats and jackets are where farmers really show their colors. Attire provides a prime location to represent the logo of a preferred tractor, the company that buys their product, the bank that gave them a loan or a favorite NASCAR driver. I fit right in with my sturdy, patched-up jeans, my farm credit company hat and a standard issue cellphone in my pocket, which I reached for several times before realizing it was someone else’s phone ringing my ring - I need to download a new tune.

At an auction, there is something about the crowd, the bidding and the excitement of potentially getting a great deal that can make people auction junkies. Personally, the thought alone of bidding on a piece of equipment makes my heart thump in my chest. Experience is the only thing that will safely get you through an auction. Your body circulates an extra flow of blood to keep your brain and muscles working together at their peak, while tracking just how much the auctioneer is singing the price to, and, at same time, preventing any movement that would result in a bid. The most important rule is to preview the equipment and make rational decisions about what you really need and how much you are willing to pay for it. The Golden Rule is not to pass up your previously decided price when you become emotionally involved in the bidding process.

It may seem like an impossible mistake to make but in the heat of the moment, it happens. Once, on accident, my brother bought a land plane (an implement about 40 feet long and 16 feet wide that is pulled behind a tractor to level a field). He had his eyes on this tractor that everyone was surrounding, and he bid. When the dust settled, he realized the price was so great because everyone was actually bidding on the land plane sitting next to the tractor – oops. Fortunately, we only owned the land plane for a few hours, just long enough to track down another guy who was bidding on it; he ended up with a pretty good deal.