Monday, August 28, 2006

Auctions still going, going

Crowds seeking land shrink, but bidding remains intense.

ANAHEIM - Going, going, sold!

The phrase repeatedly rang out in an Anaheim Convention Center ballroom Sunday as would-be buyers pitted their skills and their nerve against each other in search of an increasingly rare find these days – a bargain on land.

About 500 people packed the room for Sunday's draw – 200 parcels of land from throughout the West being auctioned off by Irvine-based

Jeff Frieden, company chief executive, said that, like the housing markets, crowds have thinned at the land auctions this year and selling prices are down. But bidding remains intense for those who attend.

Nearly half of the crowd Sunday said they had never attended an auction before. Others were veterans, knowing just what they wanted to buy and how much they would spend. Some just wanted to learn how it all worked for a future bid.

"Who doesn't want to be a landowner?" said Tom Williams of Long Beach, who came with his wife scouting property to buy for a sheep farm.

To get people in the proper spirit, pastoral scenes appeared on giant screens at the front of the room as the theme from "Rocky" blasted from four loudspeakers. Then, the tuxedo-clad auctioneer stepped to the podium and the game was on.

Bidding for the first parcel, five acres near Rome, Ore., opened at $500 and ended in less than a minute. Final price: $1,500. Sale of Parcel No. 2, a lot in Costilla County, Colo., was over in another minute. Price: $3,000.

And so it went with the auctioneer rattling off the bids in a rat-a-tat delivery as auction assistants button-holed bidders, often urging them higher. Each sale rarely took over three minutes.

Elva Garcia of Santa Ana was one who hung in during spirited bidding for a 2,500-square-foot parcel in the Arch Beach Heights section of Laguna Beach. She got the winning bid for $70,000 and won first rights to pay the same amount for an adjacent parcel, which she also purchased.

When asked if she got a good price, she just shrugged. Like many, she said she liked buying at auction rather than through a broker because of the potential for a better deal and avoiding commissions., which owns the parcels, charges a 10 percent buyer's premium.

The auction brochure admonishes would-be bidders to check out the property before bidding. Some of the potential obstacles are obvious.

Parcel No. 2 in Colorado "may not have road access," said the brochure.

That was a problem for Sue Lucas of Ladera Ranch, who said she went to look at another parcel that was listed.

"I looked everywhere, but there was no road to it," she said.

Still, there were buyers for everything –– even two other Laguna Beach parcels that went for $80,000 each, a price that had John Wilson of Costa Mesa shaking his head. He went to see the property and said they were on a very steep slope.

"I looked at them and they were so high, my ears were popping," he said. "They are totally unusable."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Implement dealer to sell antique tractor collection at auction

Iowa Farmer Today

Hartington, Neb. - Longtime John Deere dealer Gerry Miller will sell his personal antique tractor collection he amassed over the last 46 years.

His collection includes nearly 60 antique tractors, and the highlighted tractors area1931 GP Wide Tread, a 1938 Unstyled G, a 1948 G, a 1946 BO Lindeman Crawler and a 1950 MC Crawler and many unstyled A & B tractors. John Deere implements, a gas engine and the 1st John Deere #25 front end loader complete the collection.

Miller admits he can't pick just one tractor as his favorite. He likes the 30 series tractors, including his 730, the early-unstyled ones, the R and AR models.

“I guess I like them all,” concedes Miller.

Miller was born and raised on a farm near Hartington and has been around tractors his entire life either as a farmer, auctioneer for 60 years, and a John Deere equipment dealer.

“I was a 4-H boy on the farm. When I was 10 years old I started going to auctions to buy my cattle,” said Miller.

Miller was called to the service in 1945. He spent two years in the Air Force as a meteorologist, but safely returned home to farm.

“When I returned home from the service I farmed, fed cattle and milked cows, and raised hogs” explained Miller.

A week after returning from military service, he decided to attend auction school in Iowa.

Miller stopped farming in 1960, but continued auctioneering and purchased a John Deere equipment dealership. Even though IH and Allis Chalmers sent out company executives to recruit him, Miller decided to go with the John Deere Company.

“I noticed when I was auctioneering that nearly every auction had some piece of John Deere equipment. They were a diverse company. They always had something to sell and we were in John Deere country,” explained Miller.

Miller recalls back in the 1970s and 1980s when many farmers were facing bankruptcy how busy he was with his auction business and dealership.

“At one time I worked for 137 days straight without one day off. It was hard work,” added Miller.

Miller's hard work over the years has paid off with numerous dealer awards and professional awards. Miller was named Nebraska Auctioneer of the Year in 1993 and was inducted into the Nebraska Auctioneers Hall of Fame in 2004.

Aumann Auctions, Inc., is in charge of the one-day, auction that will be held at 10 a.m., Sept. 16 at the John Deere dealership in Hartington. This auction will be broadcasted live over the internet. Preregistration is required to bid live on-line.

For a complete auction listing, photographs and online bidding visit or call an Aumann representative at 1-888-282-8648, or Ryan Creamer 402-254-9753 - Alton Heimes 402-254-3315 - Roger Janssen 402-388-4409 or their website

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Huge alfalfa farm goes on the block

By BEVERLY CORBELL The Daily Sentinel

Thursday, August 24, 2006

SAGUACHE — Saguache County’s North Star Farm, reportedly the biggest alfalfa farm in the state, is going on the auction block.

Owners Myron and Jayne Smith are putting the 5,427-acre farm up for sale in an auction to be held on site on Sept. 14, said Carl Carter, spokesman for the J.P. King Auction Company of Gadsden, Ala.

Selling the big parcel is a huge operation, Carter said, and will begin with advertising in state, national and international newspapers.

“We’ll mail a thousand brochures out, and the last two weeks before the sale will have the farm staffed full-time so people can come out and inspect the property and form an opinion on what they want to pay for it,” Carter said.

Potential buyers can bid on the entire farm, on three parcels of about 1,500 acres each or one parcel of about 800 acres.

Included in the sale are 32 center pivots that irrigate more than 3,800 acres, 30 irrigation wells, three domestic water wells, 14 grain bins, scales, 10 storage barns and two homes — plus all the farm equipment.

Carter said he wouldn’t hazard a guess on what the property will bring, but it will no doubt be in the millions.

“We usually just try to leave that open and let the bidders make up their own minds,” he said.

The Smiths, who were unavailable for comment Wednesday, also have a home in Cleveland but plan to take life a little easier on their 250-acre mountain ranch also in Saguache County, Carter said.

Selling the farm at auction is probably the fastest way for the Smiths to move the property, Carter said.

“It’s often the case that a property this size can be on the market for years, so they came to us because they’d like to go ahead and get it sold,” he said.

The alfalfa farm is not only profitable, but surrounded by the scenic beauty of the Great Sand Dunes National Monument and the San Juan and Gunnison National Forests, he said.

On the day of the auction, bidders will register in the morning and enter the open bidding. The property will sell at absolute auction, Carter said, and will go to the highest bidder or bidders with no minimum bid or reserve.

“The bidding will be face-to-face and elbow-to-elbow at the ranch,” Carter said. “It’s some of the best people watching you’ll ever see.”

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Keeping 'em down on the farm

01 August 2006

Ninety high school students from Wellington to Wanganui put on their gumboots and went to a Manawatu farm to see what careers the meat and wool industry has to offer. Jill Galloway checked out the students and the tutors.

Gone are the days of urban kids going out to enjoy school holidays with their uncles, aunts, cuzzies, and mates.

Instead, and to lessen the growing gap between urban and rural New Zealand, Meat & Wool New Zealand have organised and funded a day on the farm at the Stewart family property at Tokomaru for Year 11 to Year 13 students.

The day was aimed to try to combat the growing town and country gap, and introduce students to the idea of a career in agriculture.

For some, this was their first look at the rural industry and their first time on a farm. As they arrived - the smell of the woolshed was the first thing that hit them.

Wrightson's stock agent Mark Stevens had students drenching lambs, guessing the sheep's weight and trying their hand at a three-way drafting gate.

More difficult than it looked.

It took seven students to push sheep in to the drafting yard - something the auctioneer could do with one dog.

It was a graphic illustration of the importance of farm dogs - and the dogs are more approachable than most teenagers.

They eat less, do not require an orthodontist, and they are not microchipped (although if they had a choice, it's something some parent's might consider for their offspring).

After drafting and drenching, the students took part in a mock auction of a pen of six black face lambs, which were well finished.

The bidding was spirited and they accepted at face value the auctioneer's patter about "getting a bargain" or "being well below the pen's true value." In the end, those lambs went for $79.

Mr Stevens showed them how to gauge the age of a sheep by looking in its mouth.

It was a hands-on demonstration and the students revelled in it.

Joanna Taylor is a director of Taylored, the company which delivers the "OutStanding in the Field" experience day on behalf of Meat & Wool New Zealand.

It is something of a catch-up for the sheep and beef industry - dairying was the first farming cab off the rank with courses designed to attract young people on to dairy farms.

"We are seriously short of young people to work in rural industries. Farmers are desperate for staff - in Gisborne, they cannot get a shepherd. The shearing industry as a whole is getting older," Mrs Taylor says.

Manawatu was the fourth experience day offered by Meat & Wool New Zealand, following three successful days in Hawke's Bay, Nelson/Malborough and Auckland.

The Manawatu day, held on Friday attracted school students from Wellington to Wanganui. Three schools came from Wellington, there was big interest from Palmerston North schools, Feilding, as well as Marton, Wairarapa and Dannevirke.

The students split into five groups of 18 and moved through shearing, wool classing, soil testing, rural banking and stock handling as modules as the day progressed.

There was also a session on education and training opportunities with people from Taratahi Agriculture Training Centre, Massey University, Agricultural New Zealand, land-based training and Tectra Wool training.

Health and safety issues meant there were few activities the students could actually have a go at. Shearing, and boning out meat were two that were considered too risky for them.

But a few did get to hold a handpiece, some did wool handling and for many of them, that was as close they had ever been to shearing.

Emily Woodward shears an average of 320 lambs or 280 ewes a day. She has finished a Bachelor of Applied Science degree and her shearing has paid off her student loan.

"My Dad taught me to shear on the farm in Pukekohe. I couldn't face another season as a rousie so I learnt to shear," she said.

The students saw the face of a young woman, who does a hard, physical job but who makes good money and has travelled.

"I've shorn in the UK and on the money I made, I travelled around Europe. You can work in Australia, the United States, Canada, all around the world," Ms Woodward says.

The combination of money and travel was attractive to the students.

They were interested in what shearers get paid.

"In a year I might make around $45,000 at $1.35 per sheep, wool handlers get between $15 and $20 an hour and pressers a bit more."

It is a really good industry to use as a career, or as a holiday job or stepping stone towards getting a farm Ms Woodward told the students.

They watched as Ms Woodward peeled out a beautifully shorn lamb, then fellow shearer, Sam Welsh showed them how a snow-comb leaves wool on the sheep to help protect it against the cold.

After the shearing module it was off to the covered yards to learn about stock handling.

Claramae Bishop is a year 11 student at St Peter's College in Palmerston North. "I come from town, but I just got interested in dairy. Today I'm just having a look at sheep and beef as well," she says.

She intends leaving school at the end of the year to start a job on a dairy farm and hopes to complete industry with the agricultural industry training organisation and perhaps later do a diploma.

"I like the idea of the hours, lifestyle and working as a team on a dairy farm. I see it as a career, not just a stop-gap measure."

Kristie Newton is a Year 12 student at Freyberg High School.

"I'm a townie, as much as I hate that, and I want to do agricultural science when I leave school."

Her aim is to own a sheep and beef farm.

Year 13 Freyberg High School student Casey Boyce hopes to study zoology at Massey University next year.

She lives on a lifestyle block and has worked for five years on an alpaca farm.

Animal behaviour and perhaps wildlife education is her dream. But Miss Boyce also likes the idea of farm ownership.

"A place for horses and alpaca."

They both agreed the careers day had been fantastic, especially seeing the hands-on approach by tutors and the opportunity to try some things as well.

Benjamin Bridgeman a Year 12 student at St Peter's College wants to be a veterinarian. But was keenly checking out other rural careers.

"I thought the shearing was pretty cool, to see how they do it. I didn't think it would be as easy as it is," he said.

Perhaps those shearers were so good they just made it look easy.

Farmer Gregg Stewart opened his farm gate to 90 students.

"It's just great to see these young people come out to experience farming first hand - better than reading it in a book or seeing it on a video. We need to get young people involved not only on the farm, but in service industries as well," he said.

When it came to the stock handling - the students watched with interest and a few had a try at moving sheep and drafting - but once again the questions were about the career structure.

"Our company has a training scheme, trainee agents might start on $20,000 and then progress to be a junior agent on $25,000 to $30,000," Wrightson's agent Mr Stevens said to students.

A good senior stock agent might make $70,000 to $100,000 he said. That made their eyes light up.

"The Auckland course was interesting - we only had five students who had been on farms before," Meat & Wool's Joanne Jensen said.

"It's not just mud and gumboots - it's so much more. We need sheep and beef farmers, research scientists, shearers, fencers, rural bankers, farm consultants, meat processing staff - hopefully some of these kids will get excited about possible careers in these areas," Ms Jensen says.

Meat & Wool New Zealand will hold one more OutStanding in the Field careers day, in Canterbury August 24.

Adventures with Mom

Wanda Moeller
The Daily Tribune Hibbing Minnesota
Monday, July 31st, 2006 09:13:35 AM

There are only a few things that my mother and I enjoy doing together. One is to go antiquing and the other is to attend farm household auctions.

We usually get along quite amicably during these events — until recently.

I learned at an early age that there’s an art to bidding at a farm auction. First, never raise your hand or nod you head until you’re willing to put your pocketbook on the line. Second, beware of the people standing on the outer edges of the auction — they’re vicious bidders. Third, beware of those shifty auctioneers who’ll get you to bid on any bargain that they think you need but really don’t. Finally, beware of your parent’s occasional nod — it can cost you a lot of money and an undesirable headache.

After scouring the newspaper on Friday morning, I noticed there was a household farm auction in Preston on Sunday morning that contained a lot of antiques. My dad declined the offer to go with me, while quickly offering my mother’s services. “She’s a bit more savvy when it comes to those things,” he said, noting she could always spot a good bargain. However, deep down I kind of knew my dad wouldn’t go. Farm auctions are what he calls “cackling events,” also know as too many women in one room gossiping about immaterial things.

Inside the auction house, I knew why my dad sent me with mother. It would give her an opportunity to chat with all her relatives in her hometown of Preston (which is almost half the town). While I’m busy trying to spot a few bargains, my mother spots one of her high school classmates. She quickly tells me she’s got to talk to him but to watch her cues.

After a few minutes, a mint condition antique egg basket is about to be auctioned. I spy my mother and she’s nodding her head yes. So I get in on the bidding. The bid keeps going higher and my mother is still nodding her head. Hmmm...she must really want that egg basket, I thought. So I kept on bidding. Finally the egg basket is sold to me for a mere $28. I thought to myself, “What in the world is my mother going to do with an antique egg basket?”

Later in the afternoon, my mother wanders back to the chair next to mine and we begin chatting. She asks, who paid that outrageous price for that egg basket.

I gave her this rather odd look and said, “What do you mean who bought that egg basket? I bought it because you kept nodding your head up and down. I thought you wanted it.”

“Now why would I want an egg basket? We don’t have chickens on the farm any more,” she informs me in her scolding tone.

As I rolled my eyes, I thought “what next?” But the good news is: I’m now the proud owner of a $28 antique egg basket that holds my recycled newspapers and magazines.