“Sold!”

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Saw­erville

The Farm Auc­tion is as much a part of the her­itage of the East­ern Town­ships as farm­ing it­self and con­tin­ues to draw a good crowd when the weather is right, and I don’t mean sunny.

Scott Gra­ham, who raises beef in the Sawyerville area, has been an auc­tion­eer in the Town­ships since the 1990’s when he joined his fa­ther Harry’s auc­tion busi­ness. “My dad started in 1961 or ’62, first just auc­tion­ing cat­tle, then get­ting into farm sales and an­tiques. He had a beef farm and even back then you needed a sec­ond job and he was sick of cut­ting wood,” ex­plained Mr. Gra­ham in an in­ter­view with the Stanstead Jour­nal.

“I started with my dad in 1996. I never wanted to be an auc­tion­eer but I was in farm­ing and my fa­ther kept driv­ing into my head that I needed a side­line. But once I started do­ing it, I en­joyed it,” he con­tin­ued. He and his fa­ther, who died last year at the age of 82, worked together for ten years, tak­ing turns on the auc­tion stand. “It was nice to get a break dur­ing a sale. Now it’s just me!”

Although a farm auc­tion, dur­ing which tens of thou­sands of dol­lars worth of ma­chin­ery is sold, usu­ally lasts only two to three hours, the prepa­ra­tion starts weeks ahead. “You take in­ven­tory, get ev­ery­thing washed or pres­sure washed, any­thing that has dirt on it. Some­times you have to look into prices,” said Mr. Gra­ham. Ad­ver­tis­ing in local news­pa­pers, for which the auc­tion­eer is re­sponsi- ble, be­gins a few weeks in ad­vance.

There was ex­cite­ment in the air at Mr. Gra­ham’s farm auc­tion last Satur­day, in Bul­wer. Farm trucks, ready to haul some­thing away, and cars were lined up and down the coun­try road; the weather was cold and wet so a good-sized crowd was in at­ten­dance. “Good weather for an auc­tion is when it’s too nasty for farm­ers to do any­thing else out­side,” said Scott.

The bid­ding be­gan right on sched­ule with the smaller items, tools, chests, horse and cat­tle equip­ment. The pace was lively and quick, with Scott re­peat­ing the bids rapidly in that sig­na­ture way of the auc­tion­eer. A third gen­er­a­tion of Gra­ham, Scott’s son Ryan, and his nephew, Brad Lassenba, were the ‘ring­men’, hold­ing up the items for the peo­ple at the back to see, help­ing to keep track of the bid­ding, and even en­cour­ag­ing the bid­ding with the oc­ca­sional, ex­u­ber­ant “Yeah!”.

“Ev­ery­thing has to be well-or­ga­nized, all lined up and ready to sell. We have to keep the sale mov­ing, can’t have a lull,” Mr. Gra­ham ex­plained. The farm auc­tion isn’t just a sale; it’s a so­cial event and you can lose the in­ter­est of the crowd quickly if the ac­tion slows down. “You have to keep the peo­ple in­ter­ested; it’s like a show. Some peo­ple are just there to watch.”

The pace at last Satur­day’s auc­tion only slowed once, and just for an in­stant when a bid­der of­fered a low $100 for a hay rake. The auc­tion­eer looked at the bid­der and said clearly: “That’s what you’d get if you sold it for scrap.”

Af­ter the last drop of the ham­mer, Mr. Gra­ham and the two clerks, who had been record­ing ev­ery sale by hand, got right to the book­keep­ing. “All the num­bers have to bal­ance, then we pay the peo­ple.”

There aren’t as many farm or fur­ni­ture auc­tions, Mr. Gra­ham does both, as there once was. “The busi- ness was re­ally good in the 1990’s; things were sell­ing amaz­ingly well and there seemed to be a never-end­ing sup­ply of an­tiques. Then when the econ­omy changed, things cooled off quite a bit. There aren’t many old homes, full of an­tiques, and there are less farms be­cause you have a lot of big out­fits now.”

On a thought­ful note, Mr. Gra­ham com­mented: “It’s a big re­spon­si­bil­ity, deal­ing with peo­ple’s things. It’s some­one’s in­vest­ment. You have to be se­ri­ous and do the best job. This kind of sale is dif­fer­ent from a fur­ni­ture sale and it’s not easy. Dad taught me to think about if this was my stuff, how

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

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