William Weinrich column head

Way back when I was a boy we lived on a farm not far from Waverly. There were mother and dad, three sisters and me. Dad made a living farming the fertile bottom ground along the Scioto River. But he also kept a herd of dairy cows and sold milk to help pay the bills.

One day we got word that mother’s Uncle Emory Bauer had passed away and his wife Aunt Mae had decided to sell the farm and move to Chillicothe. So the rest of Aunt Mae’s brothers all got together when Aunt Mae decided to have a farm auction. So dad was asked to help, along with nieces and nephews and cousins who got to help too.

The farm auction was held on Saturday morning and there was already a pretty good-sized crowd there. But the night before, Aunt Mae had the hired man feed the cats in the corncrib. He always fed the cats in two long hog troughs.

Uncle Emory kept three Jersey cows, and what little they used for the house went to the cats and kittens.

The hired man commenced to milk the cows, and when he got done milking he took the milk to the house so Aunt Mae would keep what milk she wanted and the cats got the rest.

So the auction finally arrived, and the auctioneer started the auction. The first thing to go was the household plunder — stuff like furniture and dishes Aunt Mae wouldn’t need. And that took quite a while. Then, if there were any piles of scrap iron, that went next.

At a farm auction, there was always a farm wagon with all the tools and other stuff that pertained to farming. The auctioneer would get up on the wagon and also the clerk. The clerk wrote down what people bought by the number they picked up from the cashiers. He or she would take down the name and address of the person. The person would get a number, and when they bought something they would show their card number.

Finally, it came time to sell the livestock. First of all were Aunt Mae’s prized Barred Rock Chickens. Aunt Mae always kept Barred Rock Chickens.

Aunt Mae always liked Barred Rock Chickens for the big Barred Rock eggs they laid, plus when the hens got to where they wouldn’t lay anymore, Aunt Mae would kill the hens and make chicken and dumplings. Once, when I went to visit her and Uncle Emory, she gave me two pullets and a cockerel for my very own. I raised a lot of good laying hens out of this trio of young birds. I don’t remember what these hens brought, but there were about 100 of them and they were beautiful birds too.

Next, came the Jersey cows. They were all three young cows and gave lots of milk. There was at least one cow milking on the Bauer farm. When one cow would go dry, one of the other cows would be fresh and that way there was always plenty of milk. I do know Aunt Mae cried when her beloved cows were sold.

Then came the big work horse Old Fred. Old Fred was a good work horse, and in the field, in the garden, and in the woods, he couldn’t be beat.

The auctioneer asked someone to bring Old Fred out of the barn so Old Fred could be sold. Grandpa had raised Old Fred and had traded him to Uncle Emory for a young mare. Grandpa hated to see Old Fred go for dog feed and told me he intended to buy him and take him back to the farm he was born on.

My cousin and I were elected to get Old Fred out of the barn. He was tied in a single stall and was going crazy. In those days, when all farming was done with horses and mules, there was a walk from one end of the barn to the other with a small corncrib on each end of the barn. All you had to do was go down the walk and feed the horses and mules their corn and hay. There were feed boxes and mangers to feed each horse separately. Like I said before, Old Fred was going crazy, and we found out why. There was the biggest copperhead that I had ever seen, and, man, he was a big one!

The Bauer farm was a haven for copperheads, and they were everywhere, so the hired man said. Someone killed the copperhead. Old Fred went home with grandpa and lived a long life.

I do remember there was a fracas back at the corncrib. Everyone wanted one of Aunt Mae’s cats or even a kitten would do. Over the years Aunt Mae would never get rid of a cat or kitten. But at this point and time, Aunt Mae didn’t want any of them to starve.

There were only 250 head of cats and kittens, and they all were great mousers or ratters or soon would be. Everybody wanted a cat or a kitten and were willing to fight for one.

So to settle everybody down dad told the auctioneer to make numbers up to 250. Make two sets of numbers, let the people pull a number and have a record of the people who got numbers, put the numbers in a box, or rather have two sets and call out the numbers, and whoever got the winning numbers got to pick out the cat or kitten they wanted. Everyone agreed.

There were a lot of satisfied people, and the ones who didn’t get a kitten were promised by the winners that they would make sure they got one.

This auction happened many years ago. But it happened in the good old days when I was a boy.

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