Auction notes

I enjoy going to farm auctions. There is a very real excitement, or for lack of a better term "high" that comes when you bid on something. Even if it is a $20 box of cultivator shovels my heart starts beating heavily in my chest as I bid. The adrenelin rushes a bit and I get a little shaky holding up my number on the bid card for the auctioneer to read once I win something. Of course, the amount of shakiness is directly proportional to how much money I have just spent.

When I attend auctions I tend to just hang back and see what's out there and if the item is something that I could use, I try to come up with a limit of what I would pay for it and still consider it a "deal" that I would brag about later at the coffee shop. That is sort of my gauge for purchasing items at auction. It's funny but you never hear about how someone over paid for something at auction do you? Most people must have the same sense of guidelines for auction bidding that I do.

Every now and then though I attend an auction for a specific item that I really want to acquire. Be it a nice, shedded tractor with low hours and a fresh engine or a combine with similar features. These are the auctions where a little strategy comes in to play and the nerves are weakened just a bit. Usually, in this case what I try to do is stay out of the bidding just to see who the players are. Hopefully, the item I want is late in the auction and I have had a chance to get to know the crowd...who has the money, who is buying what. I watch for who is going over the equipment I want as the auction proceeds. Usually, the people that want to bid on something go over it with a fine tooth comb. I try to get to know the equipment prior to the auction. Almost always, you can phone the farmer and make time to go look at the tractor ahead of time. Sometimes, I already know the farmer and how he takes care of his stuff.

Now when the tractor is finally up for bid, I let a few guys bid it up and I see who really wants it. I try to let them bid up a few times and wait to see who drops out. I already know how much I am willing to spend so I try to get into the bidding near my limit, but still low enough to bid a few times. When I bid, I bid very fast and with extreme confidence trying to send a message that this tractor is mine no matter how high you want to bid against me. Of course I am not always successful and maybe I am bidding against someone who wants the equipment as bad as I do and he has more money to spend, or set his limit higher, or has no idea what it is truly worth. I bid up to my limit and hope that I have bluffed him out of trying to bid against me any further. If he bids again, I shake my head and walk out...letting the auctioneer know I am "out".

It also pays to pay attention to what the auctioneer is saying at an auction. I almost always attend auctions alone so I don't get chatty cathy and I try to stay focused on the details of the item being bid. A perfect example of this was this weekend when a typical fuel tank and stand went up for bid. I needed a tank and stand and these looked no different than any other setup. I was willing to spend up to $230 for the bid. Then the auctioneer said something curious...that the tank was full of diesel fuel! The bidding started and a few guys started throwing bids. I quickly made a calculation that the fuel in the tank was worth around $900 and that the tank and stand itself would be around $250. The bidding was slowing down at $400 and so, with three successive quick nods of my head, I had won $1150 worth of stuff for $475! When I returned to the auction site later in the afternoon to fill up my tidy tank with cheap fuel, a fellow auction attendee drove past me with his winnings and commented that he didn't know it was full of fuel...should've been paying more attention shouldn't he?

I said earlier that people don't mention the stuff they overpaid for? Well at the same auction, I let emotions get a hold of me and I ended up paying too much for a really nice set of harrows. They are worth more than I paid, but I probably could've waited for another auction and got a similar piece of equipment for less. Oh well...the best laid plans.