Saturday, March 31, 2007

Farm auction a rite of spring

Farm auction a rite of spring
Thursday, March 29, 2007

By Steven Hepker -- 768-4923

Henry Beckord rubbed his cowhide gloves on the chalky, weathered bow of his 1979 Caravelle boat, revealing a shiny robin's-egg-blue finish.

"It's a good old boat, worth the time and effort for someone," the Sweezy Lake resident said Tuesday at the Napoleon Livestock Commission's auction grounds.

The boat is among hundreds of gadgets, machines, tools, vehicles and what-nots on sale Saturday in the 22nd edition of the annual spring farm auction.

It is Jackson County's largest recycling event and a social gathering for thousands across the region.

Beckord is typical of consignors. He lives nearby, he attends no matter the weather, and he plans to take something home, possibly a flatbed trailer.

He won't miss the old boat.

"I have 11 more boats at home," Beckord said. The Caravelle, complete with a trailer, was purchased new by a family member in 1979 and could last another few decades. It needs a motor, and don't be surprised if one is consigned by Saturday morning.

The Napoleon auction thumbs its nose at the disposable world. Most of the offerings have endured many decades and several owners.

Tractors aged 50 or 60 years are standard fare. Newer ones might be 20 to 30 years old. The line of tractors draws the biggest crowds and is the centerpiece of the pasture that becomes a living history display on the last Saturday of each March.

The Heselschwerdt family, which operates Monday livestock and hay auctions and a Western tack store, started the farm auction 22 years ago as a service and business venture. It has expanded every year.

Not all of the items are farm-related. There are dozens of cars and trucks, including some classics, plus lumber, feeders, gates, potted trees, lawn tractors, lawn mowers, horse trailers, travel trailers, and sporting goods including dozens of guns.

Father Dale and sons Rick and Randy Heselschwerdt are the auctioneers, and they sometimes work two rings to move things along.

Generally, no household items or junk are allowed, although some might see junk where others see treasures.

The auction starts at 9 a.m. and stretches to late afternoon.