Sunday, August 15, 2010
FAIR part 6 - Auction Day - Farewell
To keep this in perspective, BBQ is the word. The goal of the livestock part of the fair is to have a great product to take to market. We raise the lambs to sell for food or breeding which ends up back to food. People eat lamb. So our code word for the real reason we do this project was BBQ. The lambs were not pets they were livestock to sell for someone to eat at their BBQ. If you don't have money to buy the animals then you can't raise the animals or feed the animals so the auction is important to make back what you spent and to continue the next year buying another lamb. The 4-H kids take a pledge to do their best and be kind to the animals but most important to take what comes, death is a part of that, loosing in the ring is a part and saying good-bye.
We got to the fair early Saturday morning. We found out we were sale number 216 and 229 for the auction. If you miss your call number then you can't sell your animal. Sometimes the auctions move right along and sometimes they drag. The steers and hogs are mixed in during the day. They go slow because they sell for so much more and are in high demand. The Steers and Heifers were going for $1700-$2000!! They auction at $50.00 increments. The Hogs were going at an average of $450-$600. Lambs were all over the place but usually sold for $250 - $500. Every animal has a market value according to their weight. If a company from the area comes to the auction, like a supermarket or the local feed store or the ice cream parlor and they just want to donate to the youth in the 4-H community, they only pay the above market price. So for instance, our lambs were priced for market at $130 they sold for lets say $300. The buyer if he doesn't take the whole thing home to eat only pays $170. Which doesn't even break even for the expenses of raising the lamb. But the store that supported us gets a plaque to hang on their wall saying they helped the 4-H kids and this gets them more business and advertising! Then there are also boosts to the auction, usually for those that can't make it on the auction day and don't want the whole lamb. This is when people add $10-$100 on top of what the lamb auctioned for. This is how we break even and can continue the project the next year. Thank you everyone that boosted us this year!!!! It is quite simple and fun for everyone.
The auctioneers are professionals but they donate their time at the fair. They talk really fast and you don't want to accidentally scratch your nose or you will end up bidding. All of the grand champions and reserve champions are sold first and the buyers get to have their picture taken with the child and animal. They will get their picture in the paper. These animals sell for WAY over their market value because they are higher quality. This was the first time I watched this part of the auction, it was fun and interesting. Sometimes I would hold my breath in anticipation for the sale, then I would feel really happy for the price it went for or disappointed it didn't go higher. I can see where people get caught up in the whole thing and could spend more then they planned.
The kids had a very long wait but finally they sold the lambs. This is them coming down the runway.
This is on the "Auction Block". Everyone is looking at you and you just hope someone will bid and buy your little lamb. You try to look good and smile!
Our Buyers were A & D Construction, a kind white haired older gentleman. He was contributing to a lot of different projects. He randomly chose ours! AND the locally owned Cold Stone Creamery Ice Cream guy, Josh. His father was buying for him because he couldn't be there. He was at the ice cream booth at the fair working. We always give a loaf of bread or a little treat with a thank you card to our buyer right after the sale. His father said to take the present up to the booth on the North end of the fairgrounds and give him the thank you personally. The kids were being shy but they headed up there. Well, it just happens that this was the first lamb he had ever bought and he was so excited that he wanted pictures and talked to the kids about the lambs for a while. He will hang the plaque in his store saying he purchased a lamb in 2010 and each year he will add a little medallion with the year to that. BUT the best part was they both got free ice cream! Hooray!
The End...We said good-bye that night to the lambs. Only one single tear was shed and that was that. Next year we start over! Bigger Better lambs and more character building opportunities!