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Monday, October 21, 2013

The Farmwife Goes to Auction: FAIL.


 The first auction the Farmer ever took me to was, as he described it, “the only culture in this town.” To be sure, the Finnerty auction on Friday nights was an evening of entertainment, for people from all walks of life.
That Friday back in 2006 we walked in and I first noticed a huge section of books. Boxes and boxes of books. I could hear Ken from his platform: “There’s only one thing that gives me the s**ts more than green apples, and that is books.” He begged us to take them off his hands. But I was distracted by another discovery. There, in the back corner, was a five foot print of a Klimt painting.
“Uh oh. Don’t tell me you like that,” my future husband said.
“I can hear it speaking to me,” I responded.
The twisting figures and vibrant colours seemed to jump off the canvas. The art looked so out of place in that old warehouse, surrounded by worn farmhouse furniture. It belonged with me.
My date said if he could, he would try to get it for me, but only if it went for less than $20.
I had to wait until the very end of the auction to get a chance at the painting. I watched as the antique dealers from Quebec who frequented the sale started to drift out of the building. Good, go, I thought. Finally I was left to compete with just a half dozen people, and none of them had taken a second look at the painting. One of the workers carried my painting up to the stage. I’ll never forget what the auctioneer said next.
“So, here’s a painting,” he said. “Look at the colours. A lot of work went into this.”
A lot of work went into this?? It’s a Klimt, for Pete’s sake! I smiled and hoped the other people in the room were equally unfamiliar with the art.
Ten minutes later it was mine. For as many dollars. The next trick was wrapping it carefully in a blanket so it wouldn’t get scuffed in the back of the Farmer’s truck. He delivered me and my painting to my townhouse, where I lived until we were married in 2007. After I became his wife, he threatened to hang my Klimt in the barn. He was never a fan.
The next auction I went to was at Leo’s Sale Barn in Greely. My new husband and I were in the market for a Black Angus or two. We toured the barns before the auction and picked out a couple of nice ones. When their number came up, we prepared ourselves to bid. The bidding started at our maximum, then skyrocketed over $1000. Yikes. We had to settle for a couple of less-than-glamorous Herefords. The Farmer was not thrilled with the outcome and to this day he takes out his disappointment on my girls, nicknaming them “Ugly Betty” and “Ugly Ginger”. I’ll admit they aren’t the prettiest bovines in the world but they do have personalities and I love them.
Last week I went to my second Ritchie Brothers farm equipment auction. I had been to one before with my husband, where we were just spectators. This time, I was sent with an agenda. How he imagines I can come home from a farm auction with a party tent when I can’t even make it back from the hardware store with the right air filter, I don’t know. I studied the item online before the auction. I agreed the 20’ x 40’ tent was exactly what we needed for our annual farm party. The Farmer couldn’t come with me, because he is also a professor and was due in class at the time the tent would be up for bids. I enlisted a friend to help me – someone who was very familiar with auctions – Jim Perry.
I had a number in my head, and made sure Jim knew it so he wouldn’t blow my budget. The Farmer figured the tent would be well worth $300 when that is the usual rental price for a weekend. Well, we might have misjudged it by a bit. Bidding started at $500, and rose to $1000 in a heartbeat. I grabbed my friend’s bidding arm and shoved it down to his side. “Ho-lee!” I said, backing away from the action. That tent sold for $2500.

The next time I hear about an auction, I think I’ll stay home. This old heart can’t handle the excitement. 

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