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Why I like farm sales

It’s farm auction sale season again.
Aside from being places where producers can do some serious buying
and selling, these sales are also social events. Local farmers get
together at them to talk to neighbours and see if they can pick up a
bargain in the process. But in the last few years, the number of
sales has been steadily declining. There just aren’t as many farmers
anymore, hence fewer auctions.

As farms grow in size and
sophistication, many of the sales that do take place involve a lot of
late model, high capacity equipment. And buying any of it usually
involves a pretty significant investment. It’s interesting to watch
the high-value stuff sell in order to keep tabs on the demand for
machinery, but sales that are a little out of the ordinary are the
ones that really catch my attention. Especially those that provide an
opportunity to look at some unusual equipment. And, of course, any
sale that offers the chance to pick up a special machine or vehicle
in need of restoration at a bargain (read affordable) price holds a
special appeal.

A few weeks ago I casually looked at a
sale bill hanging in a local gas station and it stopped me in my
tracks. This sale, which was going to be held barely 20 kilometres
away from home, included one of the rarest and most sought-after
60s-era tractors there is, a John Deere 8020. It seemed

inconceivable. It’s the equivalent of finding a Picasso among a
collection of department store wall art at a garage sale.

8020 reduced.jpg

Only a comparative few Wagner-built
8020 John Deere tractors were ever produced, making them rare and
sought-after machines.

But the cat was out of the bag with
this treasure. Even if the elderly farmer who owned it didn’t realize
what he had, the auction company certainly did. And they did a pretty
good job of getting the word out. On sale day the auctioneer surveyed
the crowd, asking people where they were from. And collectors
interested in the 8020, were there from as far away as Nebraska and
Alberta.

Amazingly, this tractor and a couple of
rare Cockshutt 1950 front-wheel assist tractors had still been

putting in regular duty in the field, unlike the vast majority of
other similar models that now do nothing more strenuous than march in
parades and spend the rest of their time parked in high-value
collections.

But on sale day, this 8020 was no
museum piece. Although mechanically it was ready for the field, it
was showing its age. The paint was faded and the tin a little rusty,
but it was far from a beat-up hulk. And while I knew this thing was
going to sell for an amount well out of my price range, I had to show
up on sale day just to get a chance to say I’ve actually seen one in
person. Of course I had my camera with me.

And I clearly wasn’t the only one there
for the show. As I stood with camera in hand, at least half a dozen
others elbowed up beside me to snap their own pictures.

Being the showpiece at this event, the
8020 was the last major machine to sell. The steadily-building crowd
was transfixed as bidding began. Things started off slowly as the
collectors coyly watched each other waiting to see who would make the
first move. The asking bid dropped to $10,000 before one of them
flinched and the rest waded into the fray. The price raced upward to
$70,000 in mere seconds as local farmers looked at each other in
astonishment. By the time the hammer fell, that number had grown to
$90,000.

From the back of the crowd, a friend
and I sipped our coffees, looked at each other, and the only thing
either of us could think to say was, “Wow”. This is one event
that is bound to become a “remember the day” topic of
conversation in years to come. Where else can you find that kind of
drama and entertainment with free admission? That’s why I like farm
sales!

Scott

About the author

Contributor

Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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