Sunday, April 01, 2007

Learning the mechanics of life on the farm

Learning the mechanics of life on the farm
By ELIZABETH KALFSBEEK/Democrat staff Writer
Article Created: 03/23/2007 10:00:08 AM PDT

A new set of wheels? No, Daily Democrat writer Elizabeth Kalfsbeek just contemplates a joy ride on this John Deere tractor.
In light of National Ag Week, I decided to hone in on my roots as a country girl and try my hand at a local farm auction. Coming from a family of farmers, I am no stranger to dirt and dust and harvesters. I went to school in the city, however, and lose touch at times with how, exactly, farmers really do feed America.

It's not Christie's. Nor Sotheby's. There are no fancy wooden paddles with your bidding number on it to elegantly wave. There are not even seats.

No, at the Boeger farm auction in Gridley I recently attended, potential bidders mull around like cattle, following the auctioneer who is standing in the flatbed of a pickup with a microphone.

This was the first farm auction I'd attended, and decided to pass on some of the etiquette I gathered should anyone find himself in my same position.

Rule No. 1: Do not raise your hand for any reason unless you want to go home with a $10,000 piece of equipment. In fact, keep any type of sudden movement to a bare minimum and on an emergency-basis only, like shooing away a wasp - if you are allergic to them. As I learned, gesturing for a cold beverage by putting my hand above my head, flicking my hair, or even pushing my sunglasses up my nose is seen by the watchful eye of
[Welcome Home]
the emcee as a bid. Fortunately, three times was a charm for me. I received a verbal warning over the mic instead of a bailer.

Rule No. 2: "Go" before you leave home. Unless you are a big fan of the porta-potty, I suggest you enjoy the facilities in the privacy of your own home before venturing out. This also means leaving the coffee behind.

Rule No. 3: Try the local fare. If you are lucky, there will be some type of barbecue area and if the tri-tip sandwiches are as delicious as the one I tried, give yourself a treat and buy two. But do not mistake the creamy horseradish sauce for mayonnaise "with a kick" as I did. Too much really clears your sinus's. The hot dog's are great, too.

Though the shelf-life of the farm auction novelty expired during the four hours I spent there, it was quite an enjoyable and educational experience all in all. It is, after all, that time of year again. On the drive there, we passed a tractor on the road, which is rare sight during the winter months. And a sense of nostalgia washed over me, going back to my roots as a country girl. It even smells like "farm" in the air. And I like it.

For the next auction? I will go prepared with a lawn chair, umbrella, ice chest and a magazine. And I'll keep my hands in my pockets.