GAYS MILLS - I went to an Amish farm auction last week, something I had never done before.
There were several non-Amish at the sale, but the crowd was mostly Amish. I like going to auctions as a social event and out of curiosity about what’s up for sale and seeing what things sell for. I got bidder number 167, so the auction was well attended. This was an auction for an Amish couple, who are moving. The auction was quite interesting–it was like a step back in time.
The auction was up in the extreme northeast corner of Crawford County where there is quite an established Amish community. I spotted three small Amish schools in the neighborhood, all within easy walking distance for the students, another sign of the good old days.
To start off with, I was impressed with the many buggies that people had driven to the sale. They looked very new and/or well kept up. Most were covered with a shiny black weatherproof material, which was good because it was a rainy day. I didn’t find out what material the buggies are made of, but would like to. Several of the buggies had hydraulic brakes and some had the older friction brakes - a thick rubber pad pressed directly against the back wheels when a serious “Whoa” is called for. Several buggies had lights for night driving. Apparently an alternator is used with a windmill or other equipment to charge a battery to run the buggy lights.
It was interesting to see the adaptations that had been made to various pieces of farm equipment designed for use with a tractor to convert them for use with horses. There were some small gas engines employed on things such as a portable saw rig, but field implements were made to be horse powered. The original horse power, stout and four-legged.
Several horses were sold at the auction, some with harnesses on them that were sold with the horse. There were some fine looking, jet black Percheron draft horses of various ages. There were a few Standardbred horses for lighter work and pulling buggies. The barn was full of horses that had been used to pull buggies to the sale.
I didn’t stick around for the entire sale, but drove around the neighborhood a bit. I went to an Amish grocery store near North Clayton. It was a large, clean, and quite new building and offered a good variety of groceries. With no electricity in the store, light was provided, quite adequately, by several large skylights. The prices were good and I bought a few items.
I also stopped at L and L Metals, an Amish concern on Highway 14. L and L is a busy place, supplying metal roofing and siding in a wide variety of colors. It is quite popular with builders and farmers who are aware of its services. The material is cut to length according to the customers’ specifications and run through a big machine that forms it into the familiar rigid ribbed pattern. The power for several of the machines was all from small gas engines.
It was interesting being among the Amish. They are enterprising, hard-working people and an important part of the diverse fabric of the Driftless Area.