Several FFA chapters around Indiana have consignment auctions to raise money for the chapter. One of the longest-running is at Benton Central High School near Fowler in northwest Indiana. I happened to attend that one a Saturday ago.
If I learned nothing else, I went away realizing the old axiom 'one man's junk is another man's treasure is still as true today as it was the day the old, unknown sage mouthed it for the first time. With more than 1,100 items up for sale and about 1,000 bidders, all kinds of junk and treasure changed hands. It just depended which side of the aisle you were on.
Two auctioneer trucks moved down along a huge line of livestock-type items, everything from pig scales to cattle panels and a rooster cage. My friend was interested in steel posts good enough to fence off trees he's planting in a lot where cattle run. He also was looking for some gates.
One pile of gates didn't look too promising. The top gate was an equal mix of rust and the original silver color. Just for effect, it had a distinct bow on one end. My friend thumbed through the pile. Apparently the quality didn't get much better the farther down into the stack you went. They might be good enough to cut up and put around to protect trees from cattle - that was about it.
The ringman's cane dropped on the top gate and the auctioneer started rattling off his chant, selling the gates by the piece. The bids went from $10 to 15 to 20 to 30 to…are you kidding me? That's per gate!
"I've thrown away gates better than those," my friend muttered as the ringman walked on to the next pile. "Maybe the posts will be more reasonable."
Most of the posts were straight, a few were bent- there wasn't a pile of steel posts that sold for less than $2 per post. Don't any of these people price things at farm stores before they come to sales, my friend wondered out loud.
Apparently not many priced posts, or stock tanks. A cute little galvanized 25-gallon stock tank sold for $10 more than I paid for a brand new rubber one of the same size just last fall. And it's worked out just fine all winter, handling the bone-chilling cold without a hitch.
Like I said, on man's junk is another man's treasure.