Grandma’s Auction

Posted by barb on Oct 3, 2004 in Pictures |

After some fun at the airport, I made it home again from Grandma’s auction. This trip the farm just wasn’t the same. When I visited last Novemeber, for Wayne’s funeral, the farm felt like the spirit had already left it, but the farmhouse felt oddly the same. I suppose that’s because the farmhouse had always been Grandma’s domain. This trip, however, the farmhouse had begun to lose it’s spirit, too. All of Grandma’s things had either been packed up for moving or layed out in auction boxes for the auction.

Stuff layed out for grandma's auction

During the auction, I tried not to dwell on the fact that bits and pieces of Grandma and Wayne’s life were being scattered to the winds. I just concentrated on the few little items that I wanted to win, and bid my heart out when I needed to.

For anyone who has not been to a farm auction, I bet it’s different than you could imagine. This is nothing like the Sotheby’s auctions or a silent auction. This is fast paced, and it takes a keen ear to keep up with the auctioneer. It took me several items before I had a grasp for what the auctioneer was saying. The good news is that they keep track of who is bidding, and if they know you’re interestested, they look directly at you when it’s your bid, and usually make sure that you’ve refused before selling the item.


The first items they auctioned was a wagonful of Wayne’s old tools. Dad had heard some guys talking beforehand and pointing out a couple of Model T jacks. If we’d known they were in his garage, we probably would not have had them on the auction, but they would have gone with the Model T over to Vern’s farm for temporary storage. But there they were, so I would have to bid on them. I think I was the only girl bidding on the tools (another girl bid on a milk-testing kit against me, which was on the same wagon, but I won it, and I suspect that she, like me, was going to turn it into some crafty thing). When they did the jacks, they had us bid on a choice of one of the 6 or so jacks that were there. When I won, I went up and picked out the two Model T jacks, and the auctioneer commented that I seemed a bit young to be in the Model T business, but that he was glad to see it.

Next they started on the household items. Dad mentioned that they never seem to go for much, but I was surprised at how little some of them went for. I bid on a box of tea cups, and won. I also bid on a box of serving bowls, and later two other boxes of tea cups. I’d won all of my bids so far, but then none of them had gone above $20 (and several were less).

I went down for pie after I won my tea cups, since they were moving on to the other household items. Things like the couch and easy chairs went for next to nothing, but an antique wash stand and a pair of arch-way bookshelves (without the archway, of course) sold for quite a bit.


As the auction moved down the hill, I needed to pay attention because there was an old croquette set that I wanted to bid on. It had been found in Wayne’s old house in the 50s, and had the initials of the previous owners etched in the wood, so it likely dated from the 20s or 30s. I was expecting it to go for $100-$150. I bid up to $200, and decided to stop. The guy bidding against me was the person who we thought might buy the house, and we were pretty sure he had money enough to keep bidding for a while.

From there they started on some of the other tools and items out of the garage and sheds. I ran into the house for some leftover pizza, and walked around the grounds, chatting with my brothers and parents along the way.

A farmer checking out grandpa's tractor

When they started on the equipment, Dad ran over to the old Ford tractor, Wayne’s pride and joy, where he was ready to bid until he won. (He did.) We followed the crowd up the hill, where Dave and Jen bid on a couple of the tractors, and Dad finally won the John Deere “pop-Johnny” for them. Dave would have prefered the Allis Chalmers with the hand brakes, which he used to use all the time when helping Wayne with the farming, but the bidding went above his limit. But I think he was happy in the end; plus the Ford will be going to his place, since Dad doesn’t really have any place for it or any use for it, either.

Finally they auctioned the house and farm land. We were all a bit nervous about this, considering this is where the money for Grandma’s new place in Red Wing was coming from, along with money for investments to live off of. All in all, though, it went very well. She not only covered her new house, but got more for the house and farm than she was expecting. Even better, the couple who bought it were people that Gram knows, at least she knows their son who will be farming the land, so she’s happy.

Grandma's house before the auction

It all still seems unreal, though, and it hasn’t yet sunk in that I’ve seen the farm for the last time….

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