For the potential buyers (or bidders), it all begins with an advertisement in the local paper, some weeks before the Clearing Sale itself. Potential buyers spend considerable time agonizing over the desire to purchase...balanced against their needs...and of course, available funds (or maybe accessibility to funds?) And deep consideration is given to the distance to be travelled to attend - and/or how to transport the potential purchases home...if successful.
But now the day has arrived, the research into comparable 'new' or near-new prices completed - and top dollar price decided on the desired goods/machinery/whatever. Accordingly, decisions have been made as to which vehicle to travel in - the comfy sedan (if small-sized purchases are planned) - through trailer, utility, truck - or maybe the plan is to book 'professional' transport for the much larger items.
As always, there will be much anxious searching for the agent's signs at road junctions near to the Sale, and fears will develop of somehow missing the place; all amazingly resolved at the turn of the road - or over the other side of a hill. Lo and behold! There are a hundred or more vehicles of all kinds (and trailers and even horse floats)...lining each side of the road - and even more in a cleared paddock in vast numbers, lined up in neat rows, with a heap of maneuvering space between.
A quick perusal of the items for sale decides whether this is likely to be a 'good'un' or a 'dud' (or waste of space). Next move is to find the temporary 'office' of the selling agent - and to register with your name and some details and receive a numbered ticket (about the size of a playing card). This will be your bidder number and all purchases and their prices will be recorded as the sale proceeds - with a final accounting and payment at the end, before the purchases are removed. Of course, the most astute buyers have arrived early enough to examine all the items for sale, pass judgment and decide an acceptable price range.
The first to be sold will be the multitude of boxes of sundries, usually crowded on the back of a truck or semi-trailer, and maybe a trestle table or two. These are the ultimate delight of the tinkerer, the 'wannabe' mechanic-cum-fixer of all things - and of immense value to the newbie farmer, to start his treasured stock of 'stuff' (those countless bits and pieces, odds and sods, that will come in SO handy...some day!) You just cannot imagine how many of these 'essentials' will be picked up, examined in detail - maybe recognised and identified - maybe not! BIT...you never know when you may need that...whatchamacallit.
Somewhat reluctantly, the potential buyer moves on to begin his tour of long rows of this other farmer's 'trash and treasure' - hoping against hope there is far less of the former, and untold bargains to be found in the latter. These rows will include such diverse items as - stock-handling equipment; water and feed troughs; fencing gear; gates and fence posts; bags of feed and bags of seed for sowing;, countless part and full containers of weedicides, pesticides, etc. Maybe there will be a chicken shed or bird aviary or rabbit hutch - even an old half rainwater tank, used as a shelter for whatever.
Next are likely to be a line-up of numerous farm implements; spray tanks and the like - gradually getting larger and more elaborate - until there are tractors, motor bikes, utes, trucks. There may be bales of hay - just a few to show the type stored elsewhere in large sheds...and the auctioneer will give details of numbers available and the 'lots' or how many can be purchased at a time.
Sometimes there are stock - most often sheep, but sometimes cattle - sorted in pens into types...or ages...or pregnancy status...or whether they are wethers (castrated male sheep)...or rams.
All of these will have one thing in common - they are terrified - after weeks or months in the tranquility of the paddock, to be suddenly surrounded by a mass of human bodies - and being poked and wool parted to check length, and mouths wrenched open to check tooth status for age. Not a good place to be.
Finally, it is the household goods - usually starting with outdoor furniture; BBQ's; a tent; maybe a dog kennel or two, perhaps an animal carry-cage. There is likely to be a collection of furniture, maybe the unwanted bedroom leftovers from a grown family - or perhaps just older furniture...tired now...replaced now.
Numerous boxes will hold kitchen items; books and magazines; old records, maybe some CDs - maybe even a stereo or sound system to play them on, as well; all manner of gadgets and either well-used or 'still in their manufacturers' boxes' electrical goods. Lamp shades and lamp stands will be interspersed with crockery and cutlery and glassware on kitchen tables; piles of doyleys and tablecloths and cushions; on the ground and all around, toys and prams and cots; and then radiators...or a surfboard, or biker's crash helmet - and almost always a fridge or two...and the obligatory old super-size freezer.
Around about now, it's a good idea to check the catering for a snack before the sale begins. Usually one of the sheds has a long table set up by the local CWA (Country Women's Assoc.) ladies, or the lady bowlers, or Red Cross - containing a huge array of their 'culinary delights'. Rows of tempting sandwiches with colourful fillings are wrapped firmly in plastic wrap for ultimate freshness, as are countless varieties of cakes and biscuits and slices. Sometimes, small cardboard plates containing 3 or 4 varieties are on offer - sometimes buttered scones, some with jam. And always the choice of tea or coffee, black or white, sugar or not - the urn is on the boil before they have finished setting up.
Sometimes, the local Lions branch, or maybe the footy club will have a 'sausage sizzle' on the go, and then it's a slice of fresh bread on a paper serviette with a couple of sausages slapped on top, and some fried onion rings - and then you 'slip, slop, slap' the sauce on yourself.
It's a great way to prepare yourself for the moment when 3 or 4 men - in matching shirts and jeans and RM Williams boots, all sporting their shady Akubra hats - suddenly jump up on the back of that 'sundries' truck, and the auctioneer shouts -
"SALE-O....SALE-O..... STARTING NOW! SALE-O...SALE-O..."
And another Farm Clearing Sale begins.
© 2011 Christine Larsen All Rights Reserved Worldwide
If this story has whet your appetite for more information and atmosphere of the Farm Clearing Sale, you will enjoy my other articles starting with the prefix - 'Going, Going...Gone - '
And to read of the contribution the Farmer's Wife makes to all of this...and so much more!...see my Squidoo lens - The Farmer Needs a Wife
I've added a YouTube video of a clearing sale to this lens - and whilst it's not Australian, it IS faithful to all I describe above.