Buying big mowers for grass and small trailers for calves

Yesterday we decided to go to our first every clearance sale of farm machinery. It was pretty exciting but also a bit daunting. For one thing it took two and a half hours just to get there! We were so fortunate to borrow our neighbour Phil's trailer, otherwise we couldn't have brought home what we bought. Our sturdy little Holden Rodeo ute has been absolutely fantastic, very reliable and has taken to farm life perfectly, despite being only two wheel drive.

So what's a clearance sale?
It's a bit of a sad thing really. When a farmer has decided to cut losses and sell up, he or she has a clearance sale. The farm has already been sold, it's about selling the machinery. Depending on what you've got and how well you've looked after it you can get a tidy sum back or suffer from poor bidding response. As with all auctions, you just can't tell how it's going to go. Things worth $4000 even second hand, like a quad bike, couldn't even sell for $500. No one was interested. Other machinery attracted hot bidding. Even plastic wheelie bins got to $70 each. Fencing and other bits and pieces did ok. A baler machine sold for $800 which was ridiculous. Hay raking machines sold for a pittance. Of course they may have been faulty. It's a mixed bag, but the auctioneer knew his prices, that 's for sure.

Tips for auctions
At first I felt a bit out of  place. Everyone was dressed in their farm clothes, looking very much the working-on-the-land people. We're Townies. We know we're beginners and we're happy to admit it to anyone. But I wasn't going to be goaded into paying more than things were worth. We'd looked online at what things were worth new, which were the best brands, which were well made. When we arrived we checked the condition and then set a ceiling we were happy to pay and stuck to it.

And that's the secret of buying at an auction.

A sort of panic sets in that you've come all this way and could walk away with nothing. That very rarely happens. There's always something you can get for a reasonable price that makes it worth the journey. The key thing to remember is this: people will keep bidding until they get an item they really want. Sometimes they'll pay more than what it would be worth new. I know! Silly, right? This is 'auction fever'. It's important to recognise this in your bidding opponent and STOP BIDDING.

If it's something you have a strong sentimental attachment to, sure, buy it. If you absolutely love it and know they are hard to find, sure, buy it. But don't get caught up in the small incremental climbing match. Before you know it you've wasted your money on something, paid too much and blown your budget. Then when something else comes up you can't afford it. Always set a top price and be prepared to walk away.

There are also ways to get rid of the 'climbers'. Sometimes we've known something will be worth at least $2000 and lots of people have been checking it out and obviously keen, so we go straight in at $500 just to blow out all the hangers-on. But you have to know your prices really well to do this and be confident in the condition of the item.
the cutest little trailer!

So what did we buy?
We saw online there was going to be a small trailer which we needed for our quad bike. Fully galvanised with detachable sides it will be fantastic for carting stuff, fetching wood etc. And it has a tow ball which also fits the car. Awesome! Another bloke was bidding too, standing right beside us and here's the funny thing, he gave up and said, 'You have it. You've missed out on a heap of other stuff.' Now that's country folk for you! I say that also knowing there was some sort of syndicate of guys there buying up stuff which they were taking back to their 'workshop', so they were professional pickers I guess. We also bought the mower, which has five sets of blades and sticks out the side of the tractor, making it easier to get into corners and not leave flattened areas where the tyres have been.
the mower

Farming heritage and know-how
I felt sorry for the young couple who were giving up but at the same time I saw the relief on their faces. And when I saw the state of the farm house they'd been living in I was horrified. His old mum was with them. Possibly she'd farmed the land with her husband and hoped the son would continue it. But it doesn't always work out that way does it? The land was right near the ocean, so lots of rust issues on the equipment. If you're going to buy expensive machinery, for heaven's sake keep it covered in a shed when not in use! He could have gotten bigger prices if he'd spent some time using a water blaster to get off the muck. Oh well. Worked to our advantage. Hubby is good with mechanics and can tell if something is in good working order. I was impressed! And then the fun bit started - watching the tractor pile up people's purchases on their trailers.
our mower being loaded onto the trailer
So what's next?
This morning we went for a walk before breakfast looking at fence lines, dams, water courses and erosion zones. There is A LOT of work to be done just to get the land stabilised here. Overgrazing has ruined large areas with bare dirt and animal tracks eroding hillsides and around dams. It's a bit depressing actually. But we have a plan! It's important to get the big picture of what's been happening. For that we are so lucky to have neighbours Rob and Jane who have lived here forever and who used to farm this land. Rob's family ran a dairy and sheep here along with potatoes. It was a very productive farm in its day. We're hoping to restore the land to a useable space where we can run cattle and sheep, perhaps horses too and cultivate paddocks for hay cutting/silage. But first the old fencelines have to be restored and the erosion fixed. This is going to take outside help. It's not something we cn do by ourselves. I'm tired just thinking about it.

I also have to get my current novel finished.... Too many distractions!