All right, I admit it: I'm an auction junkie. If there's an auction somewhere in the general vicinity I'm there. Buying at auction is not only fun, it's smart. With costs of all kinds spiraling upwards it behooves all of us to lower our expenses and there is no better place to achieve this goal than at an auction. Here's a partial list of the best buys at estate, farm and ranch auctions in my opinion.
Hand Tools: My shop is filled with tools I've purchased at farm, ranch and estate sales. (So is our house.) Tools that are truly made in America are getting harder to find than a Notary Public and that's why I buy older USA made hand tools at farm auctions. I have sat through many a farm auction waiting for an old battered tool box that was full of tools only to discover that's what everyone else was waiting for too.
Livestock panels: These are always sought after at farm and ranch sales. Just make sure that you don't pay more for them than they can be purchased brand new.
Head and shoulder mounts of impressive game animals: They are cheaper and easier to find than doing it yourself.
Old cars: They're so cheap you can usually find enough change buried in the seats to pay for one.
Certified preowned tractors and farm implements: Guaranteed to be old, rusty and worth their weight in scrap iron.
Guns: You can buy barely used firearms for pennies on the dollar. While I approve of the purchase of guns never, ever, buy used ammo. It's illegal and the shells may have been reloaded by some whacko with a sick sense of humor.
Here are some items you should carefully reconsider before bidding on them.
Cattle Scales: I once bought a set of used scales from a defunct cow trader and I never did get the scales to weigh right. They always weighed light.
Old Batteries, Tires and Beer Kegs: Even if they have a little life left in them you are going to be stuck paying someone to take them off your hands. Unless you can find someone as stupid as you were to buy them.
Cattle Truck: With gas prices rising and the low prices of used trucks and trailers one might be tempted to buy your own truck. Just burn the money you were going to spend and save yourself a nervous breakdown. Ditto for 3 wheeled ATV's.
Ropes: Do you really want to pay your entry fees, travel to the roping and then swing a rope that the former owner used to tow a broken down car purchased at a farm auction? Besides, it could have some bad roper's mojo.
Things that plugs in: Buying an old SkilSaw or early model of an electric drill can be a shocking experience. Don't buy old computers unless you need a boat anchor.
Branding Irons: Why would you want to put someone else's brand on your cattle?
Buckets of bolts, nuts and washers: I'm a sucker for these but when I considered all the time I have spent sorting them I figured each washer that I actually used cost me about twelve bucks. This goes for old, rusty and bent fence staples too.
Vet Supplies: Old needles can spread disease and 1985 bottles of LA 200 may have lost some of its zing. Used preg-checking sleeves are never a good idea either.
Sprinkler Pipe: Don't get me wrong, you can probably save more money buying used sprinkler pipe than any other item. But changing pipe is hard work and do you really want to work that hard?
Primitives: I don't really know what this word means but you hear it a lot at farm and estate sales. I think it refers to stuff that was popular when you were a kid, like sewing machines, janitorial supplies and pots and pans. The problem is where are you going to find anyone who knows how to use these things? Trust me, they'll sit in your house unused until it's time for your estate sale and then they'll sell for even less than you paid.