Thursday, August 25, 2022

Sale Day: Leaving a Lifetime of Farming


We hustled around on sale day, Saturday, August 13, for some family photos before the festivities began. Tye, who has taken over the farm ground we continue to own and who cares for our cow-calf herd in a partnership, was elected as photographer for 15 to 20 minutes worth of shots before the craziness of the day.

Originally, I had wanted some photos in the wheat field of our final harvest as active farm operators. I   had a professional photographer lined up. But it was just too hard to coordinate schedules and predict the weather. (I only knew that everyone was going to make it home a few hours before they arrived.) My second idea was having photos among the farm equipment before it started driving away or was hauled down the road.  But since school had started for the girls and for Susan the week before, it wasn't possible for them to all get here by the time golden hour rolled around the night before the sale. I knew that Randy would be addressing any issues with machinery on the day of the sale or answering last-minute phone calls about it before the bidding began. Other people were juggling plenty of other balls that day, too. Tye did a great job, and we'll save the pro shots for a time down the line. 

Jill snapped a few of Randy and me by various farm equipment. I definitely wanted one by the feed truck. I spent a lot of time in it during winters the last few years. Randy was always glad to tell any callers that his wife drove the old Army truck. One of my favorite times of the year was riding the buddy seat of the combine during harvest time. I'll miss that.

Anyway, I'll treasure these last glimpses of farm life as we've known it. We used the backdrops you'd expect - the 4-wheel-drive tractor and the combine. 

But I also wanted some photos gathered around the old 8N Ford Tractor. 

Jill also requested a photo by the relic.

I snapped a few of Grandpa with the girls.

The last time Kinley had been on that tractor was when she was a baby in her mom's arms 10 years ago.

April 2012

Randy grew up operating the Ford tractor. Our kids also got the "privilege" of putt-putt-putting down a road on the way to help build fence. While I never drove it, I certainly was part of the team that helped build miles of electric fence to contain our cattle in the fall. (Click HERE for a blog post about one fence building session.) But it, too, went on the auction block at the farm sale. 

Randy's Dad and Grandpa had purchased the Ford tractor in the 1960s. (And, yes, it started on sale day!)

Clarence (Randy's Grandpa, seated), his Dad Melvin and Randy holding Brent in 1988.

Maybe the winning bidder will restore it for parades. Or maybe they'll use it like we did, who knows?

It's amazing to think how far farm equipment has come in the time since our ancestors began farming in the late 1800s. My mom did an amazing job of photographing new machinery they've used during their 69 years of farming together.

(My dad as a toddler and his Dad)


She compiled them into history books she gave to grandchildren. (I may still have one in my dining room curio cabinet for "safe keeping.")

The evolution of technology has exploded since 1972, when Randy began farming as a high school sophomore.

This was a page from Randy's FFA project - 1972 - when as a high school sophomore, he began putting up hay on his great-uncle's ground for a percentage of the hay crop.

In the late 1990s, I compiled this collage to give to Melvin after his final harvest as an active farmer. It shows several pieces of farm equipment we used at that time.

Farm technology has evolved significantly since our marriage in 1981.
Melvin's final wheat harvest

And we certainly didn't have the ultimate examples of modern machinery, but it served our needs at a price we could afford.

Photo by Brent

The girls had to give the big tractor some equal posing time after their modeling on the 8N Ford tractor.

Randy had some restless nights in the week before sale day. He wasn't sure he'd gotten enough phone calls expressing interest in all the machinery. Would in-person bidders come? Would the people who told him on the phone that they'd be bidding online actually follow-through and do it? Would we get a reasonable value for the equipment? Would this part of our retirement plan pay out? I was not immune from the nighttime thoughts that made for some restless nights. 

But Randy was all smiles the day of the auction.

   (These moments were captured on my camera by Kinley, the budding 4-H photographer.)

Photo by Brent

Ultimately, we were thrilled with the large crowd who arrived on sale day.

Some arrived early enough for the small "stuff" on trailers.

Photo by Brent

There was an even larger crowd for the big equipment - both in-person and online.


Photo by Andrew Webb (my brother-in-law)

The day was awfully hot, but the auctioneer with Carr Auction kept the bidding moving along well.
Photo by Andrew Webb

Some of the items began leaving the field before the auction was even over. By Wednesday, August 17, we had only a few things left to be picked up by the new owners. The combine and the drill left that day. The last pickup left last Friday (August 19). We are down to a couple of tractors still awaiting pickup.

Ultimately, this list of farm equipment left our farm to do the job at another farm on down the road. 

We also closed on Randy's folks house on the Monday following the sale, and the young couple who purchased it has already started moving in and making it their own. (Click HERE for the blog post I wrote before that sale.)

It's been a year full of emotion - highs and lows, doubts and dreams. But we feel at peace with the decision. And we're ready for the next chapter. Bring on some K-State football and some trips to National Parks this fall. (We'll add plenty of trips to see the family for good measure.)

The girls were hoping that they could convince their parents they "needed" the 4-wheelers. They had ridden them for a fishing trip during a stay at The County Line last year. Alas, they'll have to settle for Grandpa's new (to us) Gator. The girls approve of Grandpa's new ride. (Uncle Brent may have given Kinley some unauthorized driving lessons on the Gator.)

Next time: Photos from the retirement party


  1. Phew, so much planning and hard work to make this such a successful day. It must be strange to step outside to now empty sheds and spaces. Hopefully you have now been able to slow down, relax and plan those National Park visits.

    1. We had a lot of business to take care of the next week, but things have slowed down some. We were able to go to visit our daughter's family over the weekend and watch a soccer game.