Farm auction memories [1/100]

I grew up in Central New Jersey with my parents and brother. In the summers, we’d pile into the station wagon on Saturdays and head out to the farm auction.

The farm auction was held in a barn. While my parents registered for a handheld sign to use for bidding, they slipped my brother and I a few dollars to order fries at the food stand. The fries were so hot straight from the deep fryer, the plastic fork melted.

Before the auction would begin, we’d scope out the barn in its entirety. The larger animals would be in the back stables, and the few aisles in the main barn area would have stacked boxes and cages of smaller creatures — chicks, goslings, bunnies, all the farm animals you could dream of. Parakeets chirped loudly from plastic milk jugs with a side cut out and covered up by a piece of chicken wire tied on tight.

The smell of manure and sweat permeated the whole space. The auctioneer’s chant was a rapid stream of seeming gibberish punctuated by increasing prices as he pointed to the raised black-and-white numbers we held up, and once the tempo slowed, the gavel struck wood, and “SOLD!”

We once met a seemingly friendly man once who invited our family over to his place a few miles away (“just follow my car” he said) to check out his animals. My dad placed a call to my aunt telling her that we were following a strange man to his place and to call the police if she didn’t hear from us in a few hours. He turned out to be a really friendly man who just wanted to show us his collection of exotic birds.