Country Auction on the Pittsboro-Goldston Road in Chatham County North Carolina: The Coveted Tractor








Top:  At every country auction awaits at least one coveted tractor.  The tractor takes top billing in advertising leading up to the sale, complete with color photographs on the handbills and internet postings.  On the morning of the auction, the auctioneer walks around telling people when any tractor, truck or automobile will be sold, usually two hours after the auction has begun.

Prior to this zero hour, men over the age of thirty swarm around the tractor like moths to a flame.  These men fall roughly into three groups.  A third of the men are serious bidders.  They want that tractor; for their own farms, or for their collection.  These bidders crawl all over the tractor, searching for serious rust and mechanical issues.  They all ask questions of others standing around, such as “is that a three point hitch on the back of that tractor?  My brush hog lines up on a three point hitch.”

Another third of the men are interested in the tractor, but don’t have the desire or money to actually possess the thing.  They listen intently to others, learning about the tractor; what year it is, what its good for on the farm.  The gentleman are easy to spot after the tractor has been sold, as they ask everyone who will listen, “What did that tractor sell for?  Is that a good price?”

The last third of the group are there, apparently because you need them to be.  The men stand around the tractor, impeding the movement of serious bidders, offering unsolicited advice and telling stories about the tractor before them, “My daddy used to have a tractor just like this, but he said it won’t never worth a damn.  He always preferred a Farm-All.”  They’ll listen in on others’ conversations, then offer their sage opinion, “Did you just say you are thinking of bidding up to two thousand dollars on this tractor?  Oh, nawww…I wouldn’t give over five hundred dollars for this tractor if my life depended on it.”

In the above photograph, the auctioneer attaches a battery charger, in an attempt to get the tractor started.  Just before the sale of the farm implement the crowd starts asking to see the tractor run.  The auctioneer wants to make sure the motor is at least running, as this brings a higher price.


Middle:  A Cub Cadet walk-behind finish mower.


Bottom: A distinguished looking gentleman makes conversation prior to the real estate sale.  At his side stands a Hardee’s soft drink.  Behind him another gentleman looks over the real estate information on a whiteboard (map, survey, property record card).  At many country auctions, the farmland and homeplace are also sold on the day of the auction, at high noon.  Bidders on the real estate can visit the house and land before the auction and make inspections or appraisals.  The successful bidder is required to have five to ten percent of the purchase price with them on the day of the auction, in cash or certified check.


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