Months ago my friend Marion asked me to mark today on my calendar so that we could attend a livestock auction. We've been talking about going for a couple of years, but never had the time. I dutifully penciled in the day, and by mid morning we were off. In about an hour we reached the place.
First there was a general auction. I have never attended an auction in my life, so ducked quietly into the building, all eyes, surveying the scene. The first thing I noticed was that there were a lot of beards. And almost everyone was wearing Carhart jackets. I left mine at home because it is strongly impregnated with the scent of barn. That certain odor that speaks of pine shavings and horse sweat and goat drench. I rather like it, but was afraid it would be offensive to some. I need not have worried. I would have fit right in with this crowd.
They auctioned off antique things and junky things. Old shutters, kitchen gadgets, boxes of cameras, vintage games. The building was warmed with a big wood stove and the air was redolent with the smell of greasy fried potatoes and hot dogs and beans and sizzling burgers.
In the afternoon the livestock auction began. That was the real reason for our visit. There were clean, airy holding pens for the animals.
There were bottle baby calves and lots and lots of goats. A herd of Katahdin sheep, two big adult cows, a totally enormous sow pig and two smaller boars.
The auctioneer was quick and funny, and clearly knew animals. The animal handlers were efficient yet kind.
Then there was this guy. I couldn't stop watching him.
He was in front of the auction stand,surrounded by piles of boxes, carriers and cages. Inside those things were rabbits, pea fowl, chickens, roosters, and a few ducks. He lined up a row of boxes on a long table, and would call up to the auctioneer something like: "Lot number 456. He would open the box, peer inside, then hold up an animal, "A fine big hen. Heavy! Young, too." Then the bidding would commence. He'd stuff the hapless creature back into its box, and peer inside the next one. One after another the animals emerged into the light. Then each was sold to the highest bidder.
I needed a few new female ducks. My current flock consists of three drakes (males) and two hens (females.) The ratio is not good. The drakes are very romantic and the hens get tired. So when a box with two brown, mixed breed hen ducks appeared, we bid on them. I had my number ready!
The ducks were mine... for a mere $5.00!
We stayed until the last creature was destined for its next home. Then, two ducks richer and $5 poorer, we headed home.
The ducks are currently tucked into a clean cage in the garage. They were very hungry and terribly thirsty. They are also dirty and smelly, I don't think they've been able to take a bath in a long, long time. I am looking forward to introducing them to the rest of the flock, where they can take a little splash in the warm water of the water pan and begin to look forward to their new life waddling around the meadow at FairWinds. I think they are lucky ducks.