Auction season is coming and it’s a great way to save a buck on everything you could imagine. Ever wanted to go to an auction but don’t know what to expect and feel intimidated? We will tell you what to expect plus some tips and tricks we have learned. Just don’t bid against us after reading this :p While we are not pro’s we have some years of experience to share. When we went to our very first farm auction we were confused on how everything worked so we spent most of our first auction just watching and feeling things out. By the end we were already bidding on items.
The first hurdle is trying to understand the auctioneer. Each auctioneer has their own style of speaking but once you have listened enough it gets easier to understand them. They have so much to sell and they want to move things along fast. If it’s ever not clear you can always ask the auctioneer what the price is up to. Being farmers we mostly attend the Farm Estate auctions for things we can use on our own farm. Plus these old farms tend to be great places to find the best deals on all kinds of antiques, farm tools and old time memorabilia.
Unless you are buying one of these antiques for yourself they can prove to be hard to re-sell unless you have an outlet to do so. So be careful there. We have scored some great purchases such as an old 1960 Schwinn bicycle for just $7 and turned it around for $100 while some stuff is still sitting here a year later. Diana thought I was crazy bidding on a beat up bike but I knew Schwinn’s are very collectible and no one else was biting on it. The list of finds could go on and on. We won a great two stall horse trailer for just $350 having nothing wrong with it, also a brand new kerosene heater that sells at home depot for $150 at the price of $7 yet again. You can find building materials dirt cheap as well. It all depends on what the crowd is looking to bid on. We often see trailers full of boxes that they will sell a box at a time. You never know what’s hidden in there unless you got there early and looked through them all. We have bought these boxes for just $2 to find things like a collectible $100 Polaroid camera in the bottom in mint condition.
At first we felt guilty paying little for things we knew were worth so much more. The worst case is someone is loosing the farm but if we were not there to get the bids higher they would make less, this is the best way to look at it. Most of these auctions are from people retiring in the best case scenario.
Some tips we have learned:
It’s always good to get to know your auctioneer and make small talk in his down time. Frequent one auctioneer's events often. They switch off at the mike for much needed breaks. Our favorite is this great older man named Skeeter who was a dairy farmer in his younger years. He tends to give us good tips and likes to see us there.
Check the auctioneer's website in advance. Most of them will list the bigger items that will be at the sale which gives you a chance to research what’s a good price using the internet. If you have mobile internet to look things up at the auction, that’s even better. We have seen situations like someone overpaying by $200 when the same rifle could have been delivered to your house brand new. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.
Get there early when they open up for an early viewing before the auction starts. It’s best to go with a friend or your wife since some auctions run two rings. If you see something you're interested in be sure to flip switches, pull cords and look for any signs that it’s broken. They always tell you “If it was broke when it got here it will still be broke when you get it home.” There are no guarantees. We have had our share of broken purchases and it’s not always the auctioneer's fault. It’s the owners fault for not being honest on broken stuff. There is so much stuff they can’t possibly test it all. Now on bigger purchases such as vehicles n such they will at least start it up but there are no test drives. Don’t always take the auctioneer's word for it when they describe a certain item. They can’t possibly know everything they are holding and it could turn out to be a common cheap item.
Be sure you’re not bidding against your partner. I know this sounds funny but it does happen when the auction is flying and you're not standing next to each other. It is good to go with a partner. Sometimes they will run two rings all day. One ring might be antiques and home furnishings while the other could be more tools and equipment. Most auctioneers will stop the two rings and go to one ring for bigger ticket items such as vehicles and guns.
Stake out your next target and get a good visual spot. If you're not interested in what they are currently auctioning, move down the row to what you want and hold your ground so you can be right up front ahead of the crowd. I always write down my purchases to make sure I don’t forget to get anything at the end and also keep track of how much I’m spending. It can feel much like gambling and winning but you’re really spending money. Often my boy is there helping and will either put things in a pile or in the truck. You can do this. They do have people watching to make sure nothing gets stolen and we have never had anything turn up missing from our pile.
Bring cash or check. There is sometimes a percentage charge on your total purchase to use a credit or debit card. Some auctions only take cash or check.
The weather doesn’t always matter. We stood our ground in a blowing sand storm thinking most people would probably leave and we would get better deals. They must have been thinking the same thing since the crowd never lessened. However if you stay all day till the very end, most people leave and then you can score on the leftovers. Some auctions turn out to take all day and I know by the end my back is killing me. Most people don’t stay all day.
The most important tip is when you decide to bid, bid hard and fast. Have a number in your head that your going to stop at but don’t let the other bidders know your hesitant and close to giving up. I always bid fast which leads people to think you’re not going to give in and you want it, then at the last minute if the price is too high I also cut out fast. It’s good to watch the other bidders and see if they are hesitating and looking uncomfortable. It’s much like playing poker. On this note, keep in mind that there are auction veterans there and have their own tricks and can pick up on yours. Don’t let other bidders intimidate you. I have had some get mad because I would bid on one thing after another. Just remember you're not there to make friends and they won’t remember you anyway. If it’s something you want, don’t back down because someone is mad. Some auctions have pockets too deep and others are a total score. The size of the crowd doesn’t always matter.
I hope this information helps and the best thing is to just go and see how they work until you're comfortable bidding. It may sound like a lot of things to know but when you're there all this will just come naturally the more you go. It makes for a great and fun day out as well.
I don't know what happened this year but you would think we are a bunny farm. The wild bunnies have multiplied like gremlins dunked in water. At first we thought it would be cute to feed the ones under our deck. Now they sit there inches away every morning while I have a coffee wiggling their evil noses at me. Everywhere you look is a bunny with no fear. They laugh at us. Luckily we don't have a huge garden yet.
We have to check under our car before leaving. You would think they would run when it starts but nope. Every time our T.V. blacks out I see that evil bunny face. They chewed through our Satellite wires and I have yet to fix them. I was under my truck the other day doing an oil change and two of them came under to see if I needed a hand. Either that or they wanted to pull the jack stands.
The latest act of terrorism: We have a huge pile of Hay bales under our car port and I dolly a couple at a time to the goat barn as I need them. They have decided now to chew all the strings off almost every bale that keeps them together.
Just the other day I was re-stacking some hay and one was just sitting on a hay bale staring at me with those cold black eyes. I couldn't resist. I tried to pick him up but as I got inches away he scurried off. Probably a good thing now that I think of it. He probably would have chewed my hand off like a pit bull. So here is a tribute to my new friends. If you can't beat em. Keep trying to beat em.
We put this stuff destined for the trash back to use. Most of the stuff you see we found on Craig's List for free or dirt cheap.
We ran across this rusty old beat up shed with missing doors and a rotten pallet floor. Out here on the farm we look for any way to save money and keep a "junk" pile from our findings until a use for it finally hits me. I have had stuff sit in that pile for a year until finding an idea or need for it. Being resourceful can keep you from becoming "farm poor" buying everything new and you also keep stuff out of the landfill ; )
I first started with the floor using old rail road ties and some new OSB wood for the base and floor. I then put the rusty old shed down on it screwing it into the floor and the wall of the house. I then fashioned my own replacement doors with OSB and old rocking chair leg pieces for the door handles. After getting it in working order I then use paint-able silicone to seal out any water then used spray can primer on it. We finished it off with some old fence slats painted white to give it a design, a sliding door latch and then used the paint we used on the house to finish it off. Even the river rock on the ground around it was free on Craig's List. Of course we had to rake and shovel it onto our trailer from someones landscape but it was well worth it.
In the final picture I then took an old shipping crate, slapped some paint on it, some hinged top doors and now we have a nice box to hold our split firewood for those snowy days. The walkway just in front of it is the bottom part of an old sturdy shipping crate. Part of the fun is to just go with an idea and see what happens. It all turned out like it was meant to be there and we use it everyday ; ) (Click images to enlar
I hope to add more projects we have done around the farm in the future and thought I would start with this one. I usually don't have a plan when I'm building these things. I just pick up the tools and see what happens. The free section on Craig's List can make for some great finds. Also we go to a lot of farm auctions and find great deals.
Truck toppers can be a quick and easy housing and shelter for pigs and chickens if you want to keep things cheap. We have 4 truck toppers in the yard. Three of which we left the way they are so the chickens can spread out to dry areas during those snow days. The one in the pictures below I decided to soup it up a bit. My only regret was using cheap OSB wood. Plywood would have been better to last longer. I popped out the side windows and made a nest box on each side that can be accessed from an outside hatch. Added two windows that prop open on the sides with hardware cloth. Also added a heat lamp that we only use when we have young baby chicks and it serves as a great brooder. You can also stack hay bales on it for added insulation.
In the end I did paint it green helping the wood last longer. We landed the four truck toppers for just $2 a piece. No one else wanted them and we saw some potential in them.
Getting your girls a baby on board sticker can be a strategic pain in the butt. Though many of you may already know this info, I thought I would share our experiences. With each passing year the does need to be "freshened" in order to get their milk production back up high. This can be a real pain if you don't have your own buck. For most, it's just not cost effective to own your own breeding buck unless you plan to stud him out for a $50 date night and you know he's at top quality show standards.
In case you haven't seen a buck in "Rut," all I can say is their is a good reason the devil is depicted as a goat. Now a neutered male is total opposite. They make the best and most docile pet if that is all you want. To own a buck you can't have just one. Goats are herd animals and don't do well alone. So now you have two bucks to feed for just one breeding season a year. They also need separate housing a good distance away from you and the does because their smell can taint your does' milk if you're in the milk business. Every time we take a doe to be bred we have to feed the milk to the chickens until the smell gets out of their system or about 3 days.
When bucks are in Rut they make their own "perfume." They pee on their own faces and somehow this gets them the girls. Kinky, I know :p The smell is awful and if it gets on your hands you will smell it all day. The bucks are much like that drunk guy in the bar that creeps everyone out and dry humps your leg on the dance floor. For us, owning males just doesn't make economical, or any other, sense.
What does the whole breeding process cost you? Our first year we paid seasoned pros to do all of the steps so we could watch and learn. We now do it all ourselves to save a ton of money. First, in order for a breeder to take your does into their herd for breeding, they require your herd be CAE tested and paper work in hand. This is a good thing for both you and the breeder. Any reputable breeder knows this is important. You don't want diseases to be spread and CAE is the worst threat. This requires someone to draw blood from the jugular of each goat at a cost and then a laboratory test for each goat at a cost. Next is the stud fee of $50 per goat. Then comes more blood tests to make sure your doe is truly pregnant. There is a window to get them pregnant and if you miss it like we did in our first year, we had three does that didn't take. This means you now have does to feed for a year with no milk to pay for their keep.
Two months before birth the does require a CDT vaccine. After birth the doe then needs to be wormed. The babies will then eventually also need a CDT shot, Dis-budding at $10 to $15 per head. Then if you plan to register them, they need a tattoo in the ear or tail, money paid to the ADGA for the registration per goat. For each goat owner the costs can vary depending on what you choose to do or not to do. All the above we now do ourselves, as intimidating as it may sound. It was for us in the beginning. Having a mentor is priceless. In our experience you're lucky to recoup these costs with the sale of the baby when they are ready to be weened off mom.
Now comes the strategic pain in the butt. For the three girls that didn't get Prego last year we were able to leave them at the breeder for a month at a cost of $1 per day for each goat. This is ideal to make sure they take. However if you are in the milk business and need that milk this won't work. So instead you need to know your goats' heat signs and be willing to drop everything, load them into the horse trailer and get them to their man since the window is short. A doe goes into heat every 18 to 21 days so if you miss one window, mark the next cycle on your calender and be alert. We have had goats that took 4 trips to finally get the job done. You then need to plan for a "dry" period and hope your customers understand. Does need to stop milking 6 to 8 weeks before birth and then the baby needs the new milk, especially the colostrum, in the first week.
This year we are pretty confident all our girls are pregnant except one. I have had my eye on her for the last month thinking something just wasn't right and I didn't think she was pregnant despite two dates with the creepy dry humping bar guy. Somehow you just seem to know. We got our first blood from the jugular, drew blood and sent it off to be tested and sure enough we were right. We really need her milk since production has plummeted but we also need her to freshen and we are not sure if it's now too late in the season to have success. The other option is to just keep milking her with a lower amount of milk or let her dry off thus costing feed with no milk money return for a year.
Signs of heat can be different for each goat and once you learn the girls of your herd, you will know their differences. Some good signs are a sudden decrease in milk production, lack of appetite, increase in being vocal, excessive flagging of the tail, rubbing on other goats of the herd and the most obvious would be goo from the girly parts. Some goats can be what they call silent heat goats. Some don't show obvious signs at all. If you miss the window, be sure to mark the calendar for 18 to 21 days later and the sooner you notice the heat signs the better your chance for breeding success. Some goats won't even look pregnant all the way up till the end, while others may look like they are going to pop. Our smallest girl stayed looking small but gave birth to the biggest babies out of the whole herd last year.
There is much more I could go into including bottle feeding versus nursing, goat diets and such. Be sure to have a good birthing kit on hand and know the signs that labor is coming. Try to educate yourself in all that could go wrong. Your does and babies could be at risk just the same as complications in human births. We have had to reach in and re-position babies and had a few still births. Have a clean birthing stall stocked with all that you would need but not out of site of the herd. They get stressed by big changes.
A baby monitor is your best friend during this time as they could go into labor in the middle of the night so have your warm clothes and a plan in place to rush out the door because it can happen fast. As complicated as this all may sound, it's not always that complicated. Nothing beats the experience of holding that newborn baby and building a playful relationship with them. It's a labor of love.
Diana was crazy to stand out there and take these photos but I gotta admit they captured the storms nicely. These were taken just after we moved into our new house while we were remodeling the whole place and before we had any animals. It seemed like there was a hail storm at least twice a week for a month hence the desperate attempt to cover my truck in the ripped out carpet pictured below. The lightning just didn't stop.
This prompted us to buy one of those metal carports and of course it hasn't hailed here since in 3 years. That first year was the craziest storms we've seen. We really need that moisture now though. It's been so dry (click to enlarge)
I wish I thought of this before Valentines but it's never too late right? ; ) I was looking through some of our pictures and I'm so proud to be with such a great person I thought I would share some photos of the past.
If it wasn't for the Internet we never would have met. We are both huge Nine inch Nails fans and were members of their fan club message board where we first "met. " She lived on the opposite coast of Florida in Orlando and I was in Tampa. Back then 60 degrees was freezing for us. After months of chatting online we decided to meet. (The best day of my life.) From that day we spent every chance we had to make the 2 hour 1 way drive and spend weekends together for over a year. Mondays were rough. I would wake at 3am and drive 2 hours straight to work but it was so worth it. There were those days I put on that fake cough and called in sick from the other side of the state for just one more day with her : )
We did so much in Florida together. I swear we hit every beach up and down the coast to the point all beaches started to look the same. We hit every theme park, seen the space shuttle take off, military air shows and went to countless concerts and comedy clubs.
It was after running out of things to do in Florida we decided to branch out to my old home, Denver Colorado. I brought her to meet my family and we spent a week on the road hitting all my favorite childhood campgrounds. Diana fell in love with the place and I too missed the mountains of Colorado. After some time of talking about it we finally decided to get the biggest U-haul, load up both our households and move to Colorado Springs with my son.
It always seems that fate keeps taking hold of us one adventure at a time. If you would have told me I would be squeezing goat teets and hatching chickens back then I wouldn't believe it. From the Nine inch Nails fan club to a box of nine inch nails building barns with my best friend. Isn't it funny how life can take a turn. Now Diana has a whole different set of animals to train. Including me :p This was a definite turn in the right direction. I love you Diana. Don't punch me for writing this. You have bony knuckles ; )
I have heard that this is supposed to be really good for you and I decided to give it a try. I put 2 teaspoons with organic honey and ice cubes and stir until the ice cubes melt. By the time they melt the honey mixes well. I never would have guessed that I would like to drink vinegar. I gotta say that it gives me a pick me up when I'm feeling crummy. It helps my throat feel better when getting sick and settles my stomach Even helps with my chronic heartburn. My teen son even uses it on his face to help with acne. This stuff is great
Most of the health benefits of apple cider vinegar are anecdotal and have not been scientifically confirmed. We make no claims about any of the health benefits listed below but offer them up as a starting point for further research on your part.
1. When diluted with water 50/50 it is often used as a toner for the face. Caution should be used when applying as cider vinegar is very dangerous to the eyes.
2. A bath of apple cider vinegar is said to reduce the effects of sunburn. The vinegar soaked on a cloth and applied to sunburn may also be used.
3. Many women have tried a douche of apple cider vinegar as a remedy for yeast infections. However, many others claim that vinegar causes or worsens yeast infections. Some say it depends on the brand used.
4. There are many claims that apple cider vinegar is a powerful weight loss aid. Many people use it in salad dressings or drink a tablespoon diluted in a glass of water once or twice per day.
5. It is said to treat dandruff by destroying the fungus Malassezia furfur and restoring the PH balance of the scalp. Some people recommend applying a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar, applying it to the scalp, and leaving it to dry. Others suggest applying a couple of tablespoons of straight vinegar to the scalp and leaving it on for an hour or two before rinsing.
6. It has long been promoted as a remedy for arthritis. The National Arthritis Foundation says apple cider vinegar has not been proven effective against arthritis but is harmless to try.7. A reported treatment for warts is to soak the affected area for 20 minutes per day in a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water.
8. It is said to be a natural lowerer of bad cholesterol.
9. A teaspoon of cider vinegar in a glass of water per day is said to lower blood pressure.
10. Mother of vinegar, the layer of film that forms on top of the cider, is believed to have antibacterial and antifungal properties.
These ten benefits of apple cider vinegar are just a few of the reported uses for it. The great thing about this natural remedy is how inexpensive it is. If you're ready to give it a try, we suggest Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar.From:
Have you used apple cider vinegar with positive or negative results? Post your experiences in the comment section below and let us know.
Introduction to Keeping Chickens Part 1 of 5
1/11/2013 11:40:37 AM
By Melissa Caughey
Tags: chicks, starting out with chickens, Melissa Caughey, keeping chickens, Melissa Caughey
So, how do I go about this, you ask? Well if you're like me you read everything you can get your hands on, check the internet and dive head first into something figuring you'll just troubleshoot along the way. However, there is some planning to optimize your chicken experiences that will make life easier. So, lets start at the beginning. How do I get the chickens?
Ordering the Flock
There are a few things that you need to ask yourself before you start.
1. Do I want roosters?
2. Do I want baby chicks or full grown egg laying hens?
3. How many chickens do I want?
4. What type of climate do I live in?
5. What do I want my chickens for? Pets, meat, eggs, or a combination?
The February freeze is coming and I want to share some of our tricks we learned to make the cold easier and more efficient. During this time we use deep litter methods which creates good heat by natural decomposition of the lower layers with a clean dry layer on top. I rake our dead prairie grasses with a thatch rake storing it in barrels to save money on something they are just going to poop on. We don't believe in using heat lamps due to their danger of fires and also you don't want to keep your animals too warm. Doing so creates humidity in their shelter and also makes the change going from a warm house to the outside bitter cold hard on them. You're usually better off letting them get cold and use cuddle power to stay warm but in a draft free environment. You don't want to create conditions that can cause pneumonia and certainly don't want to start a barn fire.
Should you find the need to use heat lamps and your cuddle power is low, be sure to secure heat lamps with backup wires or chains. The last thing you want is a chicken to fly into it knocking it down and obviously don't put them in reach of goats. (Red lights are good for chickens as they can't see well in that color and sleep better. White lights are good if you want to trick them into thinking the days are longer so they lay more eggs.) A timer plugged into the heat lamp that comes on early in the morning works great. You want to also keep your outside wattage low to save money and also not overload your circuit.
Another great tool in the photos below is a Thermo cube. This saves energy and is a great option should you want to use a heat lamp but not create too much heat. It turns on at 35 degrees F and off at 45 degrees F. We use a heat lamp and thermo cube in our well pit. The cold at our house can freeze the pipes, cutting off water supply and using these saves some energy and keeps the water flowing.
Pictured below: We use heated dog bowls for chicken water. The wattage is that of a light bulb and they only turn on as the temperature reaches freezing. Personally I would stay away from those expensive metal heated bases for the metal waters because they have a high failure rate. They are always breaking and the dog bowls are way cheaper. They do sell expensive heated plastic chicken waterers but for that kind of money, if the plastic breaks in the cold I would be pretty upset. A flat back rubber heated bucket works just the same and we use them for our goats. The cords are protected by a spiral wire and they can't chew up the rubber.
Also pictured below is a heated hose. This keeps your hose from freezing and is great if you have a fairly short distance to go -- however they are also a bit costly. The distance of hose we need here on the farm is 150 feet so these don't work for us. We have a covered compressor next to our outdoor outlet and blow the hose out everyday and this works great for us but it's a pain.
Heated pet mats. We use these during the cold part of our kidding season for the goats. They usually cuddle with mom but I like to give them another warm option. Goat sweaters also work great for the newborns. A good and cheap do it yourself option we use is the sleeves of sweatshirts from the thrift store. All you have to do is cut the sleeves off and make holes for their legs.
Wi-Fi Thermometers: These are a great tool if you want to monitor the outside temperature in any outside shelter from inside your home. We use these in our chicken incubators as well. They also can measure the humidity which is important while incubating eggs.
Outdoor electrical outlet covers. These are very easy to install and are great if you need to leave cords plugged in outside. They keep them dry in the wet weather. Also pictured below is a special electrical tape. I'm not quite sure what its called but we use this when we need to join two electrical cords together to be left out in the weather. The tape is not sticky at all but somehow when it's wrapped it creates a chemical reaction that makes it bond together making a water tight seal. So cool.
The dryer vent below is a great use of lost energy. We use this on our dryer in the winter. Instead of blowing the heat outside it keeps the heat inside where you want it. The only hassle of this is to keep water in the base which catches the lint so there is no mess in the air and you have extra heat in the house. This works great in Colorado where the low humidity makes my lips bleed but I wouldn't use it in a place like Florida or your walls will be dripping and mold may form.
Most importantly is to keep yourself warm outside as well. Get some nice wool socks. A good pair of Carhartts plus compression under-layers (better known as long johns) makes a huge difference. The compression clothing is just that. It's made of 100% polyester, fits tight and wicks great. Getting out of the shirt makes you look like your trying to escape a straight jacket but they are completely comfortable to wear. Under Armor is the most popular brand of this type of gear. I personally buy mine on Ebay and the brand is Go-Gear. You can get a shirt, pants, and hat all for $50, where Under Armor can cost you $50 plus, just for a shirt. For guys this is a mentally better option than the old trick of wearing panty hose. I'm neither denying or confirming I've tried this option :p
These are just some of the tricks we learned over the years. They are great products that can sometimes be overlooked but they make winter just a little easier. It seems like just as you get done prepping for the winter your then prepping again for the summer heat. Just part of the joys of farming.