Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Auction

I have an addiction.
Since going into business for myself and leaving the daily grind behind,
most days bring something new into my experience.
Different places, different people, and different adventures.

I need this.
I need to experience more.
I need to learn more.
And the world rarely disappoints.

In our quest to acquire tools and equipment for our business,
we've had to do our best to keep costs down by bargain hunting.
Online classifieds have been excellent,
but the ultimate bargain hunting can be had at an auction.

I had never been to an auction before.
So my friend Carmen Lee took me to a farm auction,
so I could get a first-hand look at what it's all about.
A full-on, fast paced, country auction.

This was a farm dispersal auction.
The owner retired and has sold the farm.
So everything must go.
Absolutely everything.

There were boxes of hardware.
Hammers and shovels.
Half-full jugs of herbicide.
Firearms, furniture, farm machinery, 
and pitchforks...lots of 'em.
And so much more.

It felt savage to rummage through someone's possessions,
picking through piles for some bit of treasure or valuable antique.
But the fervour was hard to deny.
The greatest challenge is to keep from buying too much 'stuff'.
It was hard not to imagine my own lifetime's worth of valuables being auctioned off to a rabid flurry of eager bargain hunters.

Before I knew the reason for the auction, 
I wondered if it was a foreclosure.
A failed personal economy,
fed to the wolves to satisfy the greedy banks.
It wasn't the case today, but I had a frightening glimpse of what it could look like;
Hordes of scavengers scrapping for the leftover bits.

The auctioneer was Doug Mitchell.
He was funny, kind, and helpful.
And yes, he called the bids as fast as you can imagine.
It's a blur at first, but you don't need to keep up.
The auctioneer sweeps you into the bidding.
The excitement is heart stopping.

Even with rugged characters, the mud and biting wind,
there was style and culture at the auction;
Tradition and savvy.
And camaraderie; even amidst the bidding rivalry.

Before having been to the auction,
I imagined it as is; a market style.
But an auction is more than that,
It is a cultural experience,
not to be missed out on.

Saturday, 15 March 2014


Let's not argue about how much snow there was this year.
It was cold, but there's no point in going back to the records.
The fact is that Winter is a challenge every year, in one way or another.

The animals have it right.

Most take it easy.
Many hibernate.
Some leave outright.

Like the proverbial grasshopper,

our goal throughout the Summer should be preparing for Winter.
Growing and preserving, hunting and gathering.
All to ensure survival through the Winter months.

Perhaps it's a lesson that we have lost hold of.

Have we become the ant?
Certainly the Summertime is easy.
And why not relax after a hard Winter?

Or maybe it is the drive and ambition foisted on us by our society.

Coercion for the sake of a robust GDP.
The expectation to produce year round, regardless of the seasons.
Western work ethics demand consistent productivity.

I don't expect our gardens to grow food for us in the Winter.
Why should my own progress be measured any differently?

This Winter has been a reminder,

of just how harsh the environment can be.
Even modern solutions fail when faced with a few more degrees of cold,
and an extra layer of snow.

On the homestead, the first victim of Winter is progress.

Short days.
Sub-zero temperatures.
Heavy clothing.
Snow depths.
Winter conspires to halt the drive forward.

And where it should.

The ebb and flow of Nature should dictate our actions.
Long days of Summer serve to give us the extra time we need,
to grow alongside our crops.

To survive is to live in spite of danger or hardship.

Memory gives us the foresight we need to prepare.
Yet Winter is a needless struggle,
as we treat each season with indifference.

Each snowfall, and every frigid night weighs me down.

I struggle forward, only to fail.
Each footfall, and every frozen extremity undermines my determination.
I curse that which I should be thankful for;

The steady breathing of the biosphere that supports my family.

It is not easy to break free from industrial society.  
We are dangerously entwined by it.
But we ignore the whisperings of Nature at our peril.
It harbours a greater certainty than the ephemeral state of modern life.

There is no honour in the battle to impose progress.

It is against Nature.
I will find peace in Winter,
when I put my tools down...
...and survive.