A day at the auction

Cowboys and buggy wheels were on display at the Small Farmer's Journal Horsedrawn Auction & Swap in Madras a couple of weeks ago. It was a drizzly Thursday and the crowd was small, but the atmosphere was upbeat and the auctioneers were busy. We didn't go to buy anything—much as I'd love to have a sleigh—but we did find plenty to gawk at and lots to admire.

The auctions were serious business and the two we watched were busy and selling. There were so many items for sale we wondered how they could possibly get through them in just three days. If you wanted used tack or a saddle you could fondle hundreds before deciding. Farm implements—from pliers to plows—were abundant. We saw old and new buggies and parts, buckboards and covered wagons, sleighs, saddle blankets, hats, boots, belts, and jewelry; fire rings, oil lamps, and hand-carved toys. And more.

As for the buyers, the men greatly outnumbered the women and were almost as decorative. There were chap-wearing cowboys in ten-gallon hats, regular cowboys in regular hats, and a surprising number of gray-headed farmers with pony tails. There were men in overalls and men in fleece, but no one was wearing a suit. (Ray wore his French beret and was ready to tell anyone who asked that he was a Basque farmer. Sensibly, no one asked.)

The only items in short supply were the food choices. Two booths sold barbeque and one sold pizza, or you could get tacos from the inevitable truck. No quiches anywhere; Portlandia was far, far away.

Here's a small sample of photos. We'll definitely go again.

Need a wooden horse or a pair of old snow shoes? Get 'em here.


Just a little fixing and she'll be running fine.

A narrow view of a wide warehouse full of goods for auction.
That's the auctioneer in red.

A nice little buggy awaits its new owners.


The outdoor auction was busy selling miscellaneous tools.

Ready for its movie debut?

How much you want for that one?

Got a buggy needs fixin?

I like these boots.

Seriously, you ought to buy it.

Everyone needs a wagon wheel. Get 'em here.

Me, getting my horse fix.


It was an hour's drive to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, where the auction was held. That meant it wasn't quite in Sisters Country—a tag the local paper loves. But the folks who attended the auction are part of our larger landscape and occasionally they even come to town. This mix of arty village, cowboys, farmers, and lots and lots of tourists makes for an interesting and friendly community. So far we like it just fine.