Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Great Yoder Kansas Chicken Auction!

Have you ever heard of the "Yoder Chicken Auction"?
My daughter who raises some of those Fancy Fuzzy Legged chickens that lay Red and Blue and Green Easter Eggs, took me to the Yoder Chicken Auction awhile back. The first time she mentioned it I busted out laughing. Land Auctions. Cattle Auctions, Yes. Who ever heard of a Chicken Auction? It took me a minute to realize that she was serious! It was Amazing. Wonderful. Everyone should attend one before they die! Especially at Yoder, Kansas. An Inspiring event to say the least. Everyone, especially City Slickers, should take their kids to see this. And it's Free. This is So great! I think the nice folks that run the Yoder Chicken Auction ought to sell tickets at $10 a PoP!

Wait till you see things like this. Here was two happy little kids sitting on a big flat hay wagon eating hotdogs and drinking Dr. Pepper. She looked about 6. He looked about 7. Obviously brother and sister. Him in his big white straw hat. Her in her little white bonnet, tied primly beneath her chin.

There they were, smiling, giggling, watching the crowd, happy as 2 little larks. Their bare feet hang over the edge of the wagon Legs slowly swinging back and forth in a silent rhythm. Waiting and watching and laughing at their friends antics. Who are trying to Broad Jump across a huge wide ditch. And usually falling down half ways across. rolling in the grass laughing hilariously! Just amusing themselves. Their mothers and fathers nearby attending to their Chickens, or Geese, or Rabbits, etc.

[ It really doesn't get any better than this. Just ask the kids. These kids make their own fun. Like kids used to do. No Computers, No Computer Games. No "Grand Theft Auto" or "World of Warcraft" or "Ancient Empires" for these kids. Could that be a good thing? What do you think folks?]

The Auctioneer in his little wire granny glasses and blue fedora hat calls out bid numbers while his sturdy helper carefully watches and listens to the crowd, yelling "HuUP" with every new bid; both quickly move down the long rows selling to the eager crowd of buyers looking for a bargain - and sellers hoping for a good return on their produce. Listen. Crying Kids in their cages. They sound like real babies! How am I supposed to know that baby goats cry like that? Almost breaks your heart when they do that. And there. Cackling Chickens and Honking Geese and the Klacket-Klack of Ginny Hens. Off to the side stands a beautiful Peacock someone brought to sell. And a Big strutting Turkey, Tail feathers fanned out proudly. A perfect copy of a Norman Rockwell painting straight out of The Saturday Evening Post - 50 years late.

Smiling barefoot kids in fresh clean clothes, amazingly quiet, running back and forth like kids do - without disturbing anyone. No yelling. Or punching each other. And I though there was no other way for kids to act! Little girls sticking their fingers in the cages daring the chickens to peck them - and Jumping back with a screech and a giggle when they did. Or picking up little fluffy chicks or yellow and black ducklings (with permission of the owners) to hold and cuddle and talk softly to, as little girls are prone to do.

And way over there, on the very edge of the crowd, Teenage boys in a huddle by themselves, talking animatedly as teenager boys do in groups, but quietly, as teenage boys Don't ordinarily do. Carefully holding their voices down - so as not to shame their parents by being boisterous and loud in public.

All of them seem well-mannered and polite. Some are dressed smartly - kind of preppie. Others dressed in identical long floppy stocking hats wearing nice white handmade shirts and dark blue slacks without pleats. Not a pair of store bought jeans in the bunch - according to my daughter who has an eye for such things. One would never know.They are skillfully handmade. You could have fooled me. You would never know except that the clothes are less stylish - but fit well and looked nice.

Teenage boys mingling. Telling jokes on one another as teenage boys do. But never even glancing at the cute young ladies in their bonnets, or talking to them in public. I thought that was something teenage boys Had to do. What do I know. The young ladies working industriously beside their mothers with the cages, and studiously ignoring the boys.

Eventually the evening sun sinks down. Two world embracing shafts cross the sky then dwindle away into the purple. And the deep long shadows wash over row after long row of chickens, ducks, rabbits, geese, ginnys, kids, little pigs,etc. Probably 800 to 1000 small animals are here at the auction I would guess. Still waiting to be sold. People are constantly carrying away cages to their trucks and cars and one-horse carriages filled with chickens, or ducks or rabbits or pidgeons or baby sheep etc. or maybe they're lugging bales of straw for their garden. Dusk slides over the crowd. It's almost 7:30. The chickens are starting to hunker down. They have no roosts. They know nights coming soon. It's time to sleep. The animal noises lessen but never stop completely. There's a low murmur of clucks and peeps and bleets among the animals as dusk quickly turns into night and Venus shines brilliantly in the West just clearing the peek of the shed. Still the chant of the Auction goes on. The Auctioneer now speeds up his chant and occasionally inserts more jokes to the reciprocating, kidding crowd. He's starting to tire and takes a 10 minute break. Still, nearly two more hours of selling to go. A single bright yard light, mounted on the large impliment shed that sides the outdoor auction, flashes on; lighting a cage-filled space about the length and width of a basketball court. It's set to low. It glares into your eyes, blinding folks a little. Buyers bring out flashlights to look closer into the dark cages. Hundreds of people are still milling around - buying, selling or just gawking. Following along with the auctioneer. Stopping with each lot. "Do you want to sell the hens singly", he asks the seller, "or by the each" and starts the auction at a dollar each. The whole lot of 14 hens goes for $1.75 each. $24.50 total. Not to bad. The crowd keeps moving down through the long lines of patiently waiting caged animals.

Over to the side, by the big farm shed with the single light shining down, a hefty older man with a long black and white streaked beard and round black brimmed hat is grilling huge thick hamburgers constantly and selling them for a $1.75 each. No skimping here. A delicious aroma drifts over the milling people. Put on your own mustard, catsup, pickles and onions. The condiments are all set on a cardtable, and kept spotless for the hungry customers lined up eight and ten at a time. The Griller hardly gets a break. Big Chests are filled with ice. Pick up a "chilled-to-the-bone" can of Pepsi - 50cents. Or maybe one of those Famous Yoder Cinnamon Rolls that better resteraunts in the area stock along side their fancy pies in the pie case. These are Fairly expensive but big as wagon wheel. Or maybe you could just settle for a big hotdog, fresh off the grill, slightly scorched laying in a nicely toasted bun. $1.25. Take a seat on the wooden bench to eat your lunch. Your kinda tired after walking around for 2 or 3 hours non-stop. No need to say anything. You just soak up the quiet company of the gentle old folks setting next to you. These are mostly older Mennonies who are a little more laid back than the Pennsylvania Amish. Oh they mostly drive to Church Sunday mornings in their 1 horse sheys or to Yoder for grocerys. But unlike the Pennsylvania Dutch - Amish, their close relatives, these folks probably own a modern tractor that they see as a necessity and they have electricity in their homes - and listen to the weather report on the radio. I understand, and don't quote me, but the one telephone sits outside on a pole for emergency calls. I don't know for sure.

A carriage with a horse loosly tied to a rail, silently waits around a dark corner. every once in a while, you hear the horse knicker. You smile at the lovliness of the evening, and listen to the chant of the Auctioneer as the night wears on. Then it's over and you return to the big city. Still smiling.

Last Friday of Every Month
Folks. This is not a once-a-year event. It happens every last Friday of every Month like clock-work. Go to the Yoder Chicken Auction. Maybe buy a chicken to keep bugs out of your garden. They're miniature dinosaurs. They'll eat every bug in your garden. And your garden if they can get to it. If you bring them home and turn them loose in your garden, you'll have to fence your Vegetables off from them with Chicken wire and Cross your fingers. Or you might bring home a bunny for the kids or a fat Goose or Turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and tell the kids he had to go away....

But Go! Disneyland can Wait! This is a part of Americana that you must see before it too disappears! Hopefully that will never happen. These gentle people could teach us all a lot about how to live. Just a 45 minute drive West/NorthWest from Wichita, Kansas. It's will be an unforgettable experience for you and it will be unforgettable experience for your wife and kids - long after the Florida Mouse has been forgotten. And by the way, don't let anyone wear shoes or boots with waffles or deep treads on them. Don't ask. Just take my word for it. You'll be glad you did....

Happy Spring Gardening to You

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