In honor of National Agriculture Week, I will be sharing my own “memories of a former kid” growing up on a rural Nobles County family farm. Check back each day this week for some of my most memorable experiences of farm life.
Growing up with three brothers, I usually had to barter if I wanted one of them to play Barbie with me. Most of the time it was the younger brother who joined in … certainly it wasn’t the oldest of the boys. He would have been a teenager when I was into the Barbie, Ken, dollhouse and Barbie Jeep stage.
Anyway, the willing brother would always have the Ken doll, and I’d always have to promise to play farm with their toy tractors and plastic animals.
I’ll admit that I loved playing farm … as long as I could have all the little, plastic goats in my farm yard, along with a couple Holstein calves and the chickens. I don’t know that the boys could say the same about having to endure playing house with Barbie, but oh well, we Buntjer kids learned the art of compromise early on in life!
Some of my favorite memories of building sprawling cattle ranches on the basement floor were when Jason and I could convince Randy to join in. Randy always had one condition … he was the auctioneer of Buntjer Auction Barn, and he’d get to call out prices as Jason and I would bid for our pick of the plastic animals.
I think we all kind of realized, even way back then, that Randy was practicing for his life-long dream. And oh, did Jason and I like to listen to him rattle off those numbers.
It may sound rather silly to some – but for us, going to the sale barn on a Friday night was better than going to the high school football game or taking in a movie.
We’d get to listen to Johnny Vander Grift’s rhythmic auction chant, watch as animals were paraded through the ring and hear the "yep" and "yah" as bids were taken from the crowd. Then, when we got bored, we went outside and Randy would practice his auction call.
On the drive home, if we were lucky, LeRoy Van Dyke came on the airwaves crooning the Auctioneer Song and we’d all sing along …
"There was a boy in Arkansas who wouldn’t listen to his ma
When she told him that he should go to school
He’d sneak away in the afternoon, take a little walk and pretty soon
You’d find him at the local auction barn
Well he’d stand and listen carefully then pretty soon he began to see
How the auctioneer could talk so rapidly
He said, "Oh my it’s do or die I’ve got to learn that auction cry
Gotta make my mark and be an auctioneer…."
And to think, for Randy it all started with a pretend farm in the basement of our family’s rural Worthington home.
One of these days, we’ll have to dig out those building blocks and plastic farm animals for the next generation. I’m pretty sure the little tikes would think it pretty cool to have a resident auctioneer join them for an afternoon of play at the Buntjer Auction Barn.