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Rt 2, Box 330 Irrigon, Oregon 97844

I remember my first auction. I must have been eight or nine at the time. It was not very interesting, as I could not tell what was happening. I noticed that most of the important looking people were smoking cigars, so I decided that if I wanted to look important I should smoke a cigar. I found that people who smoke cigars use up most of them. I finally found one that was an acceptable length and put it in my pocket for later use.

One evening on my way to get the cows, I made a swing through the house and grabbed a few kitchen matches and headed to the pasture for a smoke. I sat on a stump and puffed until my vision wasn't real good, then picked a few wild strawberries in the hope that it would clear my vision and my breath, and raced to catch up with the cows.

One particular auction was held on a warm spring day and I felt that I should be home working. Today, I was interested in a John Deere 216 baler that was to be sold.

As with all auctions, a person spends hours standing and waiting, so to help pass the time I often listen in on conversations. You can learn a lot about what's happening this way. I learned that someone by the name of Leo, who lives in Mesa, Washington, has a bull that's in trouble. I think his name is S.O.B. because the man said that if 'that S.O.B. doesn't start performing I'm having him converted to bologna and wieners'. What's he supposed to do? Jump up and down and click his hooves together and beller a tune?

There was a dog with one black eye roaming the grounds. He was a splotchy fellow that was quite boney and unkept. I'll call him Scratch because that is what occupied about half his time.

Scratch, as if programmed, paid a visit to all the rubber tired equipment on the grounds and sent his messages far and wide. This dog must have had his frame sprung at one time, as one rear leg went through all the motions but the foot seldom touched the ground. Maybe his frame took a set from all the leg lifting.

As I rounded a corner to check out the food offerings, I stopped short to avoid a lady. My hands shot out to catch a couple of loose curlers that I thought would fall but didn't. She waved her hands as if reaching for a blade or some mace. I quickly excused myself and hustled off thinking that the lady is a lot safer than she thinks she is.

Part of any auction is the boxes of 'things or stuff.' Usually these boxes have one item of interest on top with the rest being of little or no value. I bought one of these boxes for a couple of dollars to get a John Deere P.T.O. tire pump. As I was searching the depths of the box I realized a young Huck Finn-type boy was also eyeing the box. I said aloud, 'I wish someone would take this stuff' and handed the boy a claw hammer. He tried to hold back a grin as he hustled off. A claw hammer can be a creative tool for a young person (which is not always good).

I remember my first claw hammer. I remember thinking that if I was to become proficient with that hammer that I would need practice. So, I pulled up a block of wood and, with a variation of blows, filled the chopping block with nails. I soon discovered it was not easy to remove nails, so, having an active mind, I simply hunted a suitable punch and sank the nails from sight. Later, I noticed that Dad was having trouble keeping an edge on his axe. Then one day he motioned for me to follow him as he headed for the chopping block. Dad, being diplomatic, said, 'It's a good idea to turn these chopping blocks over at times.' I nodded my approval, thinking, 'especially if the up side is full of nails.' I still can't figure why Dad suspected me.

When it was time to sell the baler, I nodded my head at the right time and ended up the owner for a couple hundred dollars less than I was prepared to pay. With the money I saved, I was able to buy a late John Deere 'A' that had a broken head from, as they say, 'hard water.'

In my opinion, the 216 baler is a very good machine. After converting it to twine, I baled just under 16,000 bales the first year and have used it to a lesser amount the last three seasons, and I don't believe that it has missed 10 bales in the four seasons of use.

When I got home from this auction my wife said, 'Doesn't it get boring just standing around all day?'

I replied, 'It might not be quite as bad as it seems.'